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The Reason Why Twitter is No Longer an Innovation Machine

Twipocalypse Now ReduxI used to write a lot about Twitter for It was a new and exciting form of communication. Twitter was innovative, not only for what it was, but for the way that it encouraged and breed that innovation. At one point, there were hundreds of third-part services and applications built around the service.

Twitter was amazing, and I loved it.

Nowadays, not so much, and I’m not alone.

Houston, We Have a Problem 

In Twitter Floundering Post IPO, an article on posted yesterday, it was suggested that Twitter might be in trouble. The post outlined several metrics that do paint a less than flattering picture:

  • Falling ad revenue
  • Slowing growth rate
  • The company losing money

Clearly, something is wrong. 

What Happened?

Just a few years ago, Twitter was a media darling. It was all over the news. People were signing up in droves. The sun was shining. To be sure, the service is still having a tremendous impact, especially for Breaking News and as a “second screen” TV experience. However, as mentioned above, the slowing growth rate is the key.

People are not flocking to Twitter the way they used to. There are three reasons why:

  • Competition: Facebook, Google+ and Instagram (among many others) are fiercely competing for the same users.
  • It’s a Niche Product: Some people like chocolate while others like vanilla. Twitter is it’s own flavor with it’s own personality (and I think limiting tweets to 140 characters is a contributing factor. You’re requiring people to edit themselves).
  • It’s Stagnating: Twitter is very slow to add new features and recent changes have been mostly to their ad platform (only used by marketers) or nearly meaningless interface tweaks.

The Answer is…

Actually, I just mentioned it; “stagnation,” and that comes from a lack of innovation.


In Twipocalypse Now: Warnings of a Twitter Bubble and Twitter Commits Suicide (or Twipocalypse Now: Redux), I discussed the need for innovation and the risks of stifling innovation. While I completely understand Twitter’s rationale, I thought there were much better solutions. Alas, Twitter felt otherwise. Now, years later, they’re starting to pay the price. Growth is slowing.

What Should Twitter DO?


I’ve offered a few suggestions about how Twitter could innovate. They include:

  • A Channel System: The way I use Twitter has changed. Now I only want to see tweets from specific people on specific topics. Twitter Lists, introduced a few years ago, were a good first step, but they haven’t changed since then. No innovation. Also, Twitter subordinates them, making them hard to get to, preferring that all users stay in the main Twitter stream. Channels are something I really need (see, Why Twitter Needs Channels to learn how this would work).
  • A Better Ad Targeting System: In my post, Twitter’s New Ad System REVEALED (the title was hyperbole), I suggested a way to associate a relevant ad with each tweet. While some people were concerned that this system would have cluttered the main Twitter stream (and it might), my intention was to create an interactive ad system where users could do something of value right in the ad unit.

Regardless what Twitter actually does next to improve the platform, it had better add value to the user experience or users aren’t going to stick around.

For more of my posts about Twitter, see my Twitip Author Page.

What do you think? Does Twitter need to innovate? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author

Neal WiserHi, I’m Neal Wiser, President of Neal Wiser Consulting. I have 15+ years experience in the Interactive Marketing, Technology and Entertainment industries. My consulting practice is focused on maximizing results for both large and small clients ranging from Government and the Fortune 500 to small, “Mom & Pop” businesses. My clients have included Comcast, USPS, Hyundai, DreamWorks Studios, MLB, 20+ pharmaceutical brands & NASA. Click About Me to learn more. You can also connect with me via on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook). And please don’t forget to subscribe to my Newsletter (Click Here).View all posts by Neal Wiser →

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