January 5, 2017

The Uncertain Future of Twitter

  • Subline: Despite its popularity, Twitter struggles financially

In the department of cruel irony, Twitter is hard to beat. The social media platform, thanks to Donald Trump and other high-profile Tweeters, gets more press than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Google+. In fact, Trump has turned @realDonaldTrump into his de facto press secretary.

But in terms of profitability, Twitter has struggled. Its stock, which peaked at $69 per share in January 2014, has zigged and zagged its way down to $17 and change this afternoon. It was as low as $13.73 earlier in 2016. In October, the company laid off 9 percent of its workforce.

That inability to fully cash in on its big audience -- 317 million active users in 2016 -- is probably its biggest challenge. I’ve placed advertising on both Facebook and Twitter, and I have to say that Facebook has the process screwed down tight. It’s so easy -- just click -- and the platform’s Insights show you exactly how you are doing. Twitter isn’t bad, but a bit more cumbersome. And Facebook gives my clients access to a vast demographic. My mother is even on Facebook.

Also, the platform itself has lagged a bit. While Twitter is live streaming NFL football, others are adding more location-based features, easy video and more diverse live feeds.

Even though Twitter has 317 million users, its rate of growth slowed to 3 percent in 2016. Last fall, the share price was lifted amid buyout rumors. Apple, Alphabet (Google), Salesforce, and Walt Disney were all mentioned. But nothing came of the rumors, and the stock slumped at the end of the year.

In any case, 2017 will be a watershed year for Twitter. The company will:

  • Figure out how to increase profits.
  • Merge its way to health.
  • Join MySpace and Friendster on the social media scrap heap.
  • Get purchased by The Trump Organization.

What does this mean for businesses trying to get the most bang for their social media buck? Social is still a great way to get the word out, and for the right target audience, Twitter is great. tdg can help navigate this changing landscape.