Twitter Changes: Out With Social, In With News

Twitter isn't for social any more.

Over the past year, we’ve seen many Twitter changes.

Let’s name a few:

  1. The loss of nine executives and bringing on Jack Dorsey as CEO.
  2. The addition of customer service features, including a button that take the user straight to DM and an in-app feedback form.
  3. The new Timeline algorithm
  4. A change from the term ‘favorites’ to ‘likes’ and a heart replaces the star
  5. The addition of polls
  6. An increase of direct message characters
  7. The launch of Moments, meant to aggregate the top Twitter posts
  8. The welcome of Periscope to the family

The latest of all these Twitter changes:

Twitter is no longer a Social Platform. It is now a News Platform.

Twitter changes ipad news category

This last change raises some questions:

  • Is Twitter changing what we’ll see in our timelines?
  • Is this the culmination of all Twitter changes, or will there be more?
  • Is it still appropriate to share cat GIFs? Do I still fit in on Twitter?
Twitter is no longer a Social Platform. It is now a News Platform. Click To Tweet

First, let’s chat about what is different.

Why is twitter changing?

Twitter, instead of showing under the Apple Store’s ‘Social Networking’ category, it shows under the ‘News’ category. In the Google Play Store, Twitter is still under the ‘Social’ category.

After struggling for years to pull into the top of the ‘Social Networking’ category in the Apple Store, this change comes as a huge boost in confidence. In the ‘News’ category, Twitter is #1 and in Social Networking, Twitter was #5.

How did they get to the point that they wanted to make another Twitter change?

The Organization hasn’t right-out said why they’ve made more Twitter changes, but there are a few clues that lead to a potential answer.

Growth Has Slowed

As shown in Twitter’s Q1 2016 shareholder letter, Twitter’s growth has slowed dramatically.

Twitter ended Q1 at about $12.8 million dollars behind projection. They’ve done a lot to increase value and fun on the app, and although they’ve seen steady growth in both MRR and user numbers, it hasn’t kept up with industry expectations.

Immediately when moving to the News category, Twitter was pushed to the top of the list. It must feel great to be in the #1 spot! In fact, their #1 spot in the News category might also help their overall Apple Store ranking, making their app more visible to Apple Store shoppers.

ROI Has Been Lower Than Expected

Twitter hasn't seen the number of active users or their monetary gain grow as much as they anticipated it to based on all of the changes they put into place.

Remember that list of Twitter changes you read at the top of this article? Well, let's add another one to the list. Another leap Twitter made this year was to release a television commercial. They chose to focus on publicizing their new Moments feature. Some loved it and others were confused by it.

Because these changes haven't panned out to be hugely significant, Twitter is trying this new tactic: changing the category within the Apple Store. With the higher ranking under 'News', it's potential that Apple Store perusers will see the Twitter app at the top of the list and feel that perhaps it'd be important for them to check it out.

Being at the top of the 'News' category also brings the app into view for more Apple Store visitors. More eyes have the potential to mean more uploads and more conversions to active users.

When Twitter's Q2 and Q3 reports are released, it'll be exciting to see if this is, in fact, the case.

Will this be the last change Twitter makes? I think it's safe to say that's a 'no'. There should be many changes to come.

Twitter Has Been Courting News Organizations

Twitter has actually been courting different news organizations for a while.

The concept of Moments is to highlight the best, most timely and relevant content. News organizations play a huge part in the success of this feature. Twitter allowed these organizations to sit on a throne within their app. Was this the start of their shift to more of a news focus, or did Moments open their eyes to this new path?

Twitter also made it easy for these news organizations to link their Moments content to the original publication so that instead of simply seeing an uptick in their Twitter analytics, the news organizations would also see increase website views.

Twitter is still seeking new ways to increase their growth. What's next? Click To Tweet

What Will Come of All of This?

It's unknown what we will see at the end of Q2, Q3 or Q4 for Twitter, but there is a potential a few things can happen:

1. Perhaps, Nothing! Potentially, because Twitter is already so well-known, it might not make a difference where they are listed. People already might have their own bias (good or bad) toward the brand.

Something else anticipated to not change: we don't see this change affecting your timeline. Everything should look as normal.

2. It's possible people won't like the reasons behind the change. Is Twitter trying to 'game' the system, or is it really their intention to see their platform evolve in this way?

3. It's anticipated that these Twitter changes, namely the change from the 'Social Networking' to the 'News' category, will bring an uptick in user numbers due to the fact that a new audience will be pulled in. This new audience might be those interested in the latest news and events. If they see Twitter at the top of the news apps, they might believe they are missing out by not logging on.

4. Twitter might now be seen as a home for those who are only interested in heavy news content. Instead of creating profiles in an effort to grow their own follower-base, these unique news-focused users might solely retain a lean number of accounts they follow to aggregate the best and most appealing news to fill their timelines.

And to answer the question about the cat GIFs... I don't think this change (if #3 above comes true) will ultimately affect how all handles use Twitter. Instead, it might become a bit more inclusive, fitting the unique and specific needs of each user without unnecessary clutter. The beauty of Twitter is that you can decrease your own clutter by decreasing those you follow.

Each user can have a distinct way they use the platform:

  • To promote their business,
  • To offer customer service,
  • Because their company expects it,
  • To learn more about their industry,
  • For social purposes, and now
  • Solely to keep up with the news.

Share Your Thoughts

How do you use Twitter? Is it from the list above, or do you have a unique purpose?

Thoughts or Questions?

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