Experiencing a post-IPO slump is hardly unusual for a large internet-focused company. Twitter has been nowhere near as badly hit as Facebook was in 2012; nevertheless, shareholders are starting to express serious concern about its slowing growth.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter has as yet come nowhere close to market saturation point; therefore the fear is that it is becoming unfashionable, which is something that has the potential to cause a hemorrhaging effect as more and more people leave because their friends are leaving. Curiosity about what is really going on led Deutsche Bank, an enthusiastic backer of the brand, to survey 1,000 of its current users, lapsed users and recent quitters to find out what they dislike about it.
The results are interesting. They show that 95% of those who leave Twitter have fewer than 100 followers; therefore, they may simply feel that there is no point in tweeting. A large proportion found Twitter confusing, felt overwhelmed by the number of tweets (perhaps not knowing how to unfollow people), did not know how to find information within it, or felt it had too few pictures. Worryingly for those who use it for social media marketing, 60% said that the adverts annoyed them; another 60%, however, said they would be willing to give the site another try if it offered better filtering, made it easier to share with friends, and had usage guidelines that were easier to understand.
The survey follows a scare last weekend when Twitter's head of news, Vivian Schiller, gave the impression that hashtags were to be phased out, potentially making it difficult for users to share conversations about particular topics with strangers and for businesses to run marketing campaigns. Other Twitter staff rushed to do damage control and it now looks as if Twitter’s intention is to move tagging out of the tweets themselves, meaning that they can still be grouped but without eating into the 140-character limit.
This week Twitter has introduced a new view count statistic, which is rolling out slowly in some areas. This shows users how many times their tweets have been seen. It is not clear quite how this is measured, as many users skim read, but it may help to keep people engaged by making them feel that they are being read. Similarly, a new number highlighting new interactions may help people to notice retweets and responses.
The really good news for social media marketing gurus using the site is that 95% of people have heard of it, which is an unusually high figure even on the Internet; therefore, Twitter is still getting plenty of attention and has ample room for a comeback.