What We’re Expecting, Hoping For And Dreading From Twitter And Periscope In 2016
Growth wasn’t great for Twitter in 2015. From the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2015, they went from 30 million monthly active users to 302 million. During 2015, that figure grew by 5 million. By contrast, Facebook went from 1.4 billion to 1.5 billion monthly active users in 2015.
The growth plateau is scaring Dorsey et al, leading the company to test a series of tweaks to their simple formula. We all know how useful Twitter can be for businesses of all shapes and sizes. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of what Twitter are planning and how you can work these changes into your company’s online strategy.
What we’re expecting:
Changes to your Twitter timeline
There’s a common theme running through Twitter’s recent strategies. To take on Facebook, they’re trying to be Facebook. One of the stranger updates that appeared in 2015 introduced a “While you were away” tab. It shows four selected tweets, removed from the context of your timeline, often around 5 hours old. It’s still in use, despite having no use.
Similarly, in the past couple of weeks, many Twitter users have reported out of order timelines. What’s happening? Twitter are trialling non-chronological timelines. We’re expecting further developments along a similar line as Twitter continue to imitate the Facebook News Feed. We’re also expecting these developments to fail.
Tampering with the current Twitter feed is designing a better mousetrap. The draw of Twitter is its immediacy and this isn’t going to change. Tweets should be planned around specific times. Think of when your followers are logging on and how your followers use Twitter. React to events and interact. Twitter may try to tamper with their formula, but the Twitter experience will not change.
Improved Twitter advertising
Advertising on Twitter will also begin to improve. As more and more companies realise the strength of PPC on Twitter, the service will improve. Advertising is such a money spinner for social media networks that it has to be a priority; an improved advertising platform will allow customers to create campaigns that focus on follower gain, tweet engagement or on-site conversion.
Our small tip for Twitter PPC users, take a look at what device is being used when your promoted tweet is seen and write your tweets with that platform in mind. B2B tweets are usually viewed from a computer, while someone’s at work on a professional account. B2C impressions should be centred on mobile, people use their smartphone to order their personal life and research products they’re after.
What we’re hoping for:
Periscope becomes mainstream
One of the more exciting moves made by Twitter in 2015 was the acquisition of Periscope. Twitter purchased the startup before the app had even launched, for a fee believed to be between $75 million and $100 million. Periscope is a live streaming app, allowing any user to broadcast a video from their smartphone, wherever they are in the world.
To encourage the growth of Periscope, Twitter integrate the streams into users’ timelines. The on-the-spot nature of Periscope suits Twitter and, as the app is still growing, is yet to be fully utilised by businesses. We’ve seen impressive uses already, stars such as Roger Federer and Jamie Oliver have used the app, Roger responded to fans and provided a tour of Wimbledon and Jamie offered free cooking classes to his 5 million Twitter followers. The app has also provided stunning pieces of citizen journalism, with streams of the Baltimore riots and the refugee crisis providing another perspective on the headlines of the day.
We’re hoping everyone tries their hand at Periscope. It’s too versatile to ignore, big brands can show off their new product, an estate agent can broadcast a tour of their latest hot property, developers and influencers can offer question and answer sessions. The app is growing and 2016 is set to be the breakthrough year. Build an innovative image now by logging on and promote your novel approach through Twitter, with organic and PPC marketing.
What we’re dreading:
Twitter tries to be Facebook
The network becoming a Facebook clone. In the pursuit of new MAUs, Twitter are plagiarising Facebook’s ideas, in an odd mirror matchup that sees Facebook copy Twitter’s trending system. A non-chronological timeline flies in the face of everything Twitter is good for. It’s time for them to accept that they offer a different experience.
It’s not Coke vs Pepsi, it’s Coke and Sprite. The two can peacefully coexist, with no reason to use one and not the other. Facebook covers your personal relationships, allows you to create events and connect with your friends. Twitter allows you to follow your fav celebs, see the latest news as it unfolds and join discussions on what’s happening. It’s time for social networks to play to their strengths, rather than pretend that social media only means talking to your mates.
Removing the 140 character limit
A persistent rumour that continues to rear its ugly head is removal of the 140 character limit. In a recent hashtag discussion with Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, many users requested its removal, with an equal amount calling for it to stay.
Here are our four arguments for keeping the 140 limit. First, the limit creates a unique social media experience. We consume the internet in small bites, not large portions. Any content creator knows how tough it is to write for the web. The majority of this article’s readers won’t have made it to this paragraph, they’ll have (at most) read the headings and scanned for any interesting details they can spot.
Like it or not, Twitter understands writing for the internet. No one gets bored halfway through a tweet. It’s no surprise that following the growth of Twitter, we saw the rise of BuzzFeed, a news site centred on short, clickbait headings.
Secondly, Twitter is famous for its character limit. Part of their identifiable brand is the idea of 140 characters. IKEA make flat-pack furniture, Subway make the sandwich in front of you and Twitter is 140 characters or less. Take away the defining core of a brand and it’s a lot harder to fill the niche that made you famous.
Third, Twitter users already have an option to post longer tweets through Twitter. Twitlonger may not be the most attractive application, but it allows users to post an extensive tweet, way over the 140 limit. Despite growing support to change the 140 character limit, Twitlonger isn’t used too often.
Finally, a removed limit will lead to hashtag spamming. The web is full of unscrupulous types. We already see tweets that hijack hashtags and trending topics. An open limit, or even raised limit, will give spam bots the freedom to include each and every trending topic and hashtag in their sneaky post. Not only does it kill one piece of the Twitter brand, the 140 limit, it also kills the hashtag, a feature so popular it entered everyone’s vocabulary.
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