I’m on a bit of a Twitter (TWTR) rant lately. That is to say that Twitter has been on my mind both as an investment and as a platform I use daily. I find tremendous value in Twitter and this has caused me to give a great deal of consideration to its documented failings. Twitter the stock has been obliterated due to an inability to grow the monthly active user base while Twitter the company has been chastised for allowing anonymous accounts to post hateful and abusive messages and otherwise harass users whose opinions differ from their own. All of this is happening while Twitter is in the midst of an identity crisis, not because new users expect it to be more like Facebook (FB) but because those who are not using Twitter are wondering why they would need another Facebook.
The identity crisis
Twitter has made no effort to educate non-users what differentiates Twitter from other platforms. This has left the uninformed wondering why they should sign up for another Facebook.
Twitter is not the place to go to follow your friends. Twitter is the place to go to follow your passions and interests. This is precisely what differentiates Twitter from Facebook, and Twitter needs to engage in an advertising campaign around this idea: “Follow your passions @twitter.”
Twitter is by far the best place to find informed content on the topics that move us. All Twitter needs to do to draw in new users is to demonstrate this idea and teach the masses how to build timelines that engage them where they want to be engaged.
This may seem like heresy but…. Hey Twitter, take to TV if you have to! Once you get those TV viewers to understand, they will become your monthly active users, spending less time with TV and more time on Twitter.
Monthly active user growth vs. abusive anonymous users
On its face, this seems to be a conundrum for Twitter. If they suspend the abusive anonymous accounts and work to block those users from establishing new accounts, they are effectively reducing the monthly active user base at the precise time that investors are screaming for an increase.
The irony is that Twitter already has the solution to this problem. And here it is:
The little blue check mark is the solution. I submit that the reason Twitter hasn’t implemented the solution is they have yet to come to grips with the fact that in order for Twitter (the platform) to advance, it needs to be less about celebrity and more about content. If Twitter begins to view the platform like a monthly active user – as a place to find great content on diverse topics of interest – they will realize that the little blue check mark has value to the account holder, especially the content creator.
Twitter should offer the blue check mark to anyone who is willing to provide the personal information required to verify their identity. This process would encourage identity disclosure without prohibiting anonymity, which would lead to more civil discourse. As a further measure, Twitter could allow users, who are experiencing abuse, the ability to block all unverified accounts.
I’m sure when Twitter was a start-up, it was quite a rush for the founders to watch celebrities adopt the platform as a way to communicate with fans. But the Twitter platform has evolved. It’s time for Twitter to recognize this evolution and to tell the rest of the world where they can find the content that moves them, posted by verified content providers.
Disclosure: The author is long $TWTR