Twitter has a problem: more than a decade after it debuted, most people still can’t even describe what it’s used for.
And most react as humans have always reacted to the unknown: they poke it with a stick and watch for a response. And then they get bored and leave.
Pew Research recently completed a survey in which they asked respondents in the US if they use twitter (only 22% say they do) and for permission to examine their accounts.
The numbers are bleak.
Even the minority that actually use the platform don’t use it much. The median Twitter user posts just twice a month. They click the little heart button next to a tweet just once a month. And they follow just 89 other accounts.
In comparison, power users – the top 10% of Twitter users – post more 80% of the tweets on the entire platform. This makes sense. Journalists simply love Twitter, they like talking to other journalists on Twitter, they love stressing the importance of certain news largely to an audience of people who never consume the news, and everyone’s known this for quite some time.
And anecdotally, I can say that the churn is getting worse. 5 Mag has been on Twitter continuously since 2008. Twitter is mostly a place to tell bad jokes and scream into the void, which is perhaps a large part of some people’s lives but a small part of most people’s lives. Lately we’ve noticed more and more people are taking longer and longer to reply on the platform compared to the past. This suggests they’ve either uninstalled the app or turned off notifications (or, as frequently happens on an iPhone, an iOS upgrade turned notifications off and the user hasn’t missed them). More and more new artists don’t have or don’t publish a Twitter address at all, and many that do merely use it to robopost from Instagram.
Twitter is trying to re-engage users by broadcasting live sports events, but music is another story. The company was an investor in SoundCloud, but wrote off almost all of its $70 million a year ago. There doesn’t seem to be any indication Twitter wants to jump back in beyond some peripheral links with the streaming giants.