by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, Editor
Yet that is precisely what some people are saying. Flat user numbers, falling revenues and the re-appointment of co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO to slow down the perceived decline in the face of growing competition from the likes of Snapchat and Instagram et al have all conspired to lead many in the marketing world to wonder… how much life is left in the old bird yet?
While the above may be undeniable, my own view is that Twitter’s role is actually becoming more relevant. One of its biggest challenges is that it is always being likened to Facebook – one whose stock market valuation stands at $350 billion, while Twitter’s value is around $10 billion and less than many of those other unicorns Pinterest ($11 billion) and Snapchat ($16 billion).
However, to compare one against the other is akin to comparing a tank with a Jeep – one is a behemoth that is on a quest to be the undisputed social media of the world, the other has a real time agenda that is focused on influence.
For instance, journalists turn to Twitter to source story ideas and to connect with their network when they need help for an article or news story they are writing, whether in the form of securing quotes or someone to be interviewed. They would never do this via Facebook and to be fair, as a PR business, we would never expect them to either.
Quality versus quantity
Too often the discussion over the impending demise of a social media is focused purely on one thing – the number of users. But this is a false economy, as the recent shut down of short-form video platform, Vine demonstrated. Does The Economist give a hoot (no pun intended) that its readership is a fraction that of The Daily Mail? Of course not, because it serves a different audience.
Twitter’s place in the social media landscape does not lie in mass-market reach. Its strength is in its influential user base.
Twitter’s demographic is one of followers who are by and large well-educated professionals that make informed purchasing decisions. Facebook users for their part will often update their profiles with seemingly uninteresting and trivial comments, such as “Just had a brew, ready for another instalment of Richard & Judy”.
Admittedly Twitterers will sometimes write silly tweets, but the difference is that these are deliberately done to add some personality to a company’s profile and make the relationship between company and follower more personable, more human.
Recruiters don’t always get it right
It is the sharing of content that enables recruiters to effectively communicate and engage with clients and candidates – providing this is done in the right way.
Indeed, too many recruiters abuse Twitter is such a way that they not only fail to generate any form of ROI from it, they are killing their brand at the same time. They seem to think that Twitter is a free tool to post all their jobs, and that the more followers they have the more successful their social media will be. Recruiters who think like this are idiots – vain and very, very stupid.
If all you do is scattergun your job postings, you are simply saying to your audience We have sod all of value to say or offer to you and all we are interested in doing is selling to you.
As such, what followers you have will begin to disappear and you will a) never get them back, and b) never get these clients or candidates to work with you.
Put another way, if you are advertising for a job and you receive 1,000 applications, are you happy that your recruitment advert generated such a huge response? Or are you frustrated because you have wasted so much of what little time you have in the day to weed out all the irrelevant applications (which probably account for 990 of all CVs received!)? Twitter is a matter of relevance, not numbers.
Marketing agencies don’t always get it right either!
Tweeting is a two-way communication and anytime the user fails to deliver relevant “What’s in it for me?” content, followers can simply decide to opt-out of following that user anytime they choose to do so. This is what Seth Godin describes as permission-based marketing – it is like having an inbuilt anti-spam filter.
We continue to see and hear of other PR and Marketing agencies telling their clients they can “boost” their followers and get them to those magical landmark figures of 1,500, 5,000 or 10,000 followers. These people have no understanding about social media – it is NOT a competition to see who can collate the most number of followers and if your agency acts like this, fire them. They’re idiots too!
300 millions users is not to be sniffed at
In Q1 of 2010, just 30 million Twitter accounts were in existence. Fast forward to Q2 of 2016 and that number has grown to an incredible 313 million.
While tech investors may be conspiring behind the scenes to manipulate its share price, Twitter’s role as a pre-eminent medium is set to continue – would you sniff at a customer base of over 300 million?
The idea of using 140 characters to communicate and stay connected with your stakeholders is a simple yet equally brilliant one. It appeals to both technophobes and technophiles alike and sees Twitter more closely aligned with LinkedIn than Facebook.
It is not a popularity contest; it is about engagement, and most of the clients you want to work with and journalists you want to reach still frequent the site each day.