The view from here

If Twitter is Dying, It’s a Raging Zombie

By James Kiss in Social Media on July 11th, 2016

If Twitter is Dying, It's a Raging Zombie

There’s been a lot of noise recently about the “death of Twitter” and how it’s only downhill for the platform. Article after article seems to say Twitter’s audience size isn’t big enough, they don’t know how to monetize, they’re going to alter their timelines too much, changing the character limit is too drastic and on and on. Basically, publications are spitting, “Twitter sucks and everything we think they’re going to do is going to tank the business.”

But Twitter isn’t cold yet.

First of all, let’s just chill for a moment and breathe. Let’s remember a few years ago when Facebook announced they wouldn’t be showing all posts in our newsfeeds anymore and people absolutely lost their minds about it. There were petitions and groups assembled to lobby against this change. Do you remember what happened? Facebook changed anyway; we all adapted and quickly forgot about it.

Of course, the Facebook change did have its consequences, especially for brands where almost each page saw their organic reach plummet to somewhere in the range of 0-3%. Brands remedied the change by allocating budget to reach their consumers (a positive for Facebook).

No social platform is perfect, but as a social media team we can’t conclude Twitter is dying or circling the drain. It’s easy to forget why those of us who actually use the platform, love it so much. Twitter had an almost magical birth that was very different from any other social platform at the time. Consumers weren’t sure how to use it, so they made it their own -- it was users, not Twitter, that began using hashtags to categorize conversations!

Over the years, Twitter has become a different utility to different people. For example, sports fanatics can keep up with multiple games at once. Journalists use Twitter to scour for what’s breaking and are able to reach out directly to the source. More than anything, Twitter is a way to truly know what’s going on in the world right now. And, with their new Moments feature, Twitter makes it even easier to follow along with current happenings all over the world by curating specific topics and events.

Specifically for advertising, Twitter has brilliantly marketed itself as the go-to platform for real-time marketing. There’s nothing more tantalizing to a brand than seeing wild ‘viral’ successes like that of the Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout or the Arby’s Hat during the Grammy’s (the type of content that we all talk about for months and still reference today).  Those ‘big wins’ have attracted brands to invest more in the platform, establish their social personality and take tent pole events like awards shows and sporting events much more seriously. The trend of marketers wanting to be more in the moment hasn’t decreased, and if anything, each year brings more advertisers on board.

Oreo Super Bowl blackout tweet

Twitter is incredibly data heavy when it comes to determining what is on a user’s mind and that information is invaluable to brands and marketers. When iMessage goes down, for example, people flood to Twitter and perform a search before contacting their support team.  We also recently saw that Twitter is rolling out emoji-based targeting so that marketers can adapt to a generation that is increasingly going ‘hieroglyphic’ in their communication.  People use Twitter to post what’s happening right now. And if you’re a smart advertiser, it pays to have a message that is tailored around those thoughts. In fact, based on eMarketer data, 43% of US marketers see a 26-50% ROI on real-time marketing.  

Revenue ROI US Marketers are seeing from real-time marketing

Twitter has impressed marketers by introducing TV targeting, too. The essence of a demographic profile for your ideal consumer can always be tied back to specific TV shows. Is she a ‘Scandal’ or ‘New Girl’ type of female? Does he love to watch college football or perhaps Squawkbox? Generally speaking, people love to tweet along with a show. In fact, it’s so important that Nielsen factors it into their Social TV Ratings.

Sure, Twitter may change their timeline and has already tweaked it by showing ‘while you were away’ and a slight increase in promoted posts in your feed.  But with Moments and an open community willing to share, it is still easty to find what people are talking about. And that of-the-moment capability isn't going away any time soon. In fact, it’s what Twitter has turned itself into – a real-time social marketing platform.

It isn’t all rosy for Twitter however, with Facebook continually expanding their own user base and advertising opportunities. Brand marketers have experienced great success with advertising on Instagram in terms of performance and reach, and Facebook  is changing Messenger to connect users with brands, adding enticing opportunities for video and live streaming content, and offering efficiencies through its Audience Network which morphs newsfeed ads into display placements.   Twitter, on the other hand, has been slow to monetize Vine or Periscope and their growth has slowed on their main platform leaving marketers impatient for new ad types.

If Facebook’s genius lies in our comfort with sharing personal details because we’re connected to friends, thus making it easier for advertisers to target, then Twitter’s power lies in our ability and need to share what we’re doing instantly and openly. It’s an open mic for opinion, sentiment and reaction all revolving around being in the “now”. When looking at mobile ad revenues for Twitter as a percentage of total mobile ad spending in the U.S., it’s expected to remain flat and rather low compared to Facebook in the coming years; however, there’s plenty of opportunity for Twitter to close the gap for brands and increase ad revenues by capitalizing on their unique position in the solial media sphere.

Twitter Ad Revenues 2014 - 2015

Twitter is a social community that’s able to adapt and remain flexible according to what users are able to dream up, and that’s something completely unique. Perhaps Twitter will remain niche and not become the juggernaut that Facebook is, but comparing the two social media worlds is like comparing zombies to vampires. Both have a fan base, both are feeding on humans, but neither can be considered a winner without an entertaining and messy fight.


What do you think Twitter’s future will hold? Leave a comment or

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  • Great stuff, BKV team. Good information that’s backed up by data. Thanks!

  • Ken Hamm

    Good blog. The sky has been falling for Twitter for years, with people citing grown, audience breakdown, UX design, etc. However, it’s far from falling into obsolesce, joining the ranks of Google Buzz, Apple Ping or the purgatory of MySpace.