Recently it has become fashionable (lol, or as “fashionable” as something can be as a thesis in tech news) to declare that Twitter is dying. These pre-emptive autopsies of a diseased social network are too much.
The New Yorker has noted “The End of Twitter.” My extremely wrong colleague just published the headline “Twitter Is Flatlining” and argued that Twitter “needs to add users at a higher rate or risk growing irrelevant”.
Twitter is not dying. Stop being so dramatic.
Before I go on: Yes, I realise that Twitter is not in a great place right now. Valued execs are fleeing; its stock dropped; it reinstated a Chakra-rave soft boy with horrible leadership skills as its CEO; its monthly active users dropped slightly. These are things I would be worried about as an investor. (I’d also be concerned about how much Twitter fails at dealing with abusive language.)
As a user, though, I’m smiling. I’m grinning. I’m winking at my screen as I tap on a fav, baby.
Twitter isn’t going to grow the way Facebook grew, even if its new algorithmic feed makes the Twitter experience easier for new users. And stagnating growth will certainly affect it as a business. Does this mean Twitter will “be dead in 18 months”, as my tragically insane editor-in-chief Katie Drummond has boldly asserted? No!
Here is an excerpt from an Atlantic piece declaring Twitter’s death imminent:
We’ve been trying to figure out the moment Twitter turned, retracing tweets to see whether there was something specific that soured the platform.
Something is wrong on Twitter. And people are noticing [...] The thing is: Its users are less active than they once were. Twitter says these changes reflect a more streamlined experience, but we have a different theory: Twitter is entering its twilight.
It wasn’t published along with the most recent “RIP TWITTER U SUCK NOW” pieces. It was published two years ago. Media reports have declared Twitter dead since 2009, just like they’ve declared Facebook dead for years. Whatever vague thing was “wrong” with Twitter hasn’t stopped people from using it.
Twitter is smaller than Facebook, but it has hundreds of millions of monthly users. That’s ... an extremely popular service, more than three times more popular than Peak MySpace. People use Twitter because it’s the best place to go to find real-time information and opinion on the internet. Facebook killed MySpace, but there is no viable usurper platform currently vying with Twitter. Perhaps one will come along in the next 18 months, but until a service with approximate utility and a superior user experience appears on the scene, it’s bizarre to suggest that the hundreds of millions of people who use Twitter do not find it a relevant service.
It’s also bizarre to suggest that Twitter will become irrelevant if it doesn’t balloon in size. A social network can be relevant if it’s not as big as Facebook. The (hundreds of millions!!) people using Twitter don’t care about monthly active users (MAU). Twitter is still a good platform for keeping up with breaking news. I mean, it gave us #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch this year. Tech writers are making squishy assertions that Twitter’s not as vibrant as it used to be, but give me one concrete example of a loss of vibrancy. Whatever bullshit you come up with, remember that Zola happened less than four months ago. Remember that a presidential candidate Twitter beef made front-page news this month.
And a business can be viable even if it has a few bad years — especially if it has fat cash reserves. For all its troubles, Twitter has a $3.5 billion cushion between existing and not existing.
Twitter is like a sad-eyed 40-year-old middle manager going through a divorce and an ill-advised “hat phase” mid-life crisis, not a cancer-riddled septuagenarian on its deathbed.