Why Twitter has to innovate to avoid being taken over
I am a huge fan of Twitter. I should get that out at the start. When it comes to sharing content, tapping into breaking news, and the way it has created a two-way connection between consumers and brands, it is unsurpassed.
As much as I love using it, however, I’m also convinced that it needs to change if it is to continue to develop in such a way that it isn’t simply swallowed up by one of its bigger rivals.
Think about those 140 characters. So many have written pieces over the six years since Twitter launched about that number, questioning why so few and why stick to it so rigidly? As Twitter develops, the 140-character limit has come to seem a serious flaw. Some have gone as far as saying that such limitations will make it ‘obsolete’.
That is going too far, but it becomes even more of an issue as the site steps up its bid to turn itself into a money-making business and secure its future success. The key to that success is its ability to attract advertisers and convince them to buy in to a 140-character social-media ad strategy, underpinned by Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends.
Twitter has to do all that in a highly competitive environment where advertisers remain unconvinced and it faces a rival in the form of Facebook that is bigger, offers advertisers more marketing scope, and is aggressively expanding. How else can you describe the latter when it has paid $1bn for Instagram? It is obvious from talking to agencies that Facebook exerts powerful pressure on the online market. It is the ‘must have’ compared with Twitter; the latter is viewed by some as ‘optional’.
That will no doubt change as more advertisers try it and are able to experiment, as with Channel 4′s tailored TV spot, which used viewers’ tweets in a live-broadcast ad last week for Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus. That showed how strong the relationship between TV and Twitter is, and how much further it could yet go.
I simply can’t escape the feeling that Twitter feels like it needs something else.
I don’t know what that is exactly; just that it needs to be able to continue to innovate in the way that Facebook has done with Timeline and its social sharing apps. The latter are huge weapons in its arsenal when it comes to attracting more advertising dollars.
If Twitter doesn’t adapt to offer commercial partners more, I can’t help but think that it will be snapped up by a rival such as Google, Apple or even Facebook, which would then have to change the name of its holding company to Social Networking Inc.