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The Problem with Twitter

By Edited Jul 26, 2016 3 2
Twitter Tips
Credit: twitter.com

 Twitter’s stock price has been cut in half since its all-time high of $74.73 in December 2013.[2] Around that time, I remember seeing a headline that said “Is Twitter worth $50 billion?

The answer was and still remains, no. 

The market finally came to its senses and the stock fell below its IPO price last week and dipped below $30 per share. There was a slight dead cat bounce, however it is still below the initial public offering price because the fundamental issues remain.

Monetizing the Site

Twitter Problems
Credit: Stockcharts.com

Twitter’s latest earnings and current stock price means the  stock is trading at -9.85 times earnings, even with that huge drop.  Compare that to Apple which trades at 14 times earnings which is around the average P/E for the S&P500.  What does that mean?

Well, it should probably be trading in the teens based on its current earnings. However, tech stocks are usually given more leeway which is the only thing saving it from free fall at this point.

The site appears to be having issues with figuring out a way to make money with ads. Unlike Facebook, they still aren't using the right-hand real estate for ads.

Currently, they are only placing ads in the twitter feed, but they are being careful not to overload the users with too many of them. As of right now, it is clear they have still not figured it out yet. But maybe the placement of ads isn’t the real issue with the company.

Maybe it is the eyeballs after all and maybe the real problem is that many of those eyeballs are not real.

Duplicate Accounts

Many of the user accounts that Twitter claims aren’t real people at all. Facebook has the same problem. A study by NBC News in November of last year found that one in ten accounts were fake.[1]

At its IPO, Twitter claimed to have 232 million active users, but also admitted that 5% of all accounts are duplicates.  The problem is with the registrations process. Twitter allows its users to remain anonymous by only requiring an active email address and verifying a captcha test. So if you have 10 different email accounts, you could have 10 different Twitter accounts in about 10 minutes.

I personally have two Twitter accounts. I use one to promote my Infobarrel articles and the other is used to follow a local radio station and other various news organizations.

But according to Twitter, I would count as two active users even though I barely spend any time on either of them.

If I were an advertiser, I would look long and hard at that type of data because I don’t think it is unusual.

No One is On Twitter

I have over 100 friends on Facebook. These are people that I personally know. None of them are on Twitter.  Data like that should send chills down the management of Twitter.  I cannot speak for others, but I have found no use for the site other than to promote an article or as a new feed from time-to-time.

And if no one I know is on there, why am I on there?

One of the problems with using Twitter is that it is much more difficult to understand for older people than even a site like Facebook. It is almost like you have to learn a new foreign language to say what you want to say. And then if you have no followers, you are just talking to yourself.

Twitter Character Limits

Twitter Can Be Annoying
Credit: twitter.com

You may not remember this but Facebook status updates used to have a character limit. I don’t remember how many characters it was specifically, but you could only type about two normal sized sentences then you were cut off, just like in Twitter now.

Facebook now allows you to write a book in your status update and it has been that way for a couple of years now.

You are still stuck with 140 characters on Twitter. Unfortunately, that also includes links and @whoever, and by the time you include a couple of people you don’t have much space left to say what you want. I find that to be annoying.

I think it is time to up that limit to about 200 characters. I know that Twitter wants to distinguish itself from Facebook, and that the idea of a tweet is a short and concise thought.

But at the same time, it is starting to look more and more like Facebook. Have you seen the new Twitter profile page redesign? It is Facebook.

How to Use Twitter

Not Visually Appealing

How to Use Twitter
Credit: Twitter.com

Because of the nature of the Twitter feed, it is not as visually appealing as the Facebook feed. And let's face it, we are all visual creatures. Would you rather look at a bland RSS feed with just titles, or a feed with the article title and preview?

Until recently, photos that were attached appeared as links in the feed, with no open preview. However, they have recently replaced that with open photos, but sometimes you cannot distinguish a tweeted photo from a person you follow from an ad placed in the feed. All of the ads have photos too.

As I write this article, I recognize that some of my points my become irrelevant very soon because they are moving in the Facebook direction so fast. I know they don’t want to be Facebook, but they are morphing toward that look nevertheless.

Twitter is Good for Promotion

What is Twitter Marketing?

Yes, the best Twitter marketing is good for promoting yourself or a product and is one method to get yourself out there in the cyberworld. Unfortunately, that is about it.

I remember having a conversation with a guy on a morning radio show who was on Twitter too. I told him last year that I was throwing the towel in on Twitter. He said, "It's better than Facebook".  Yes, I suppose it is if you are a celebrity or are promoting a business, or a radio show.

If you have another website or business, I suppose with a few trick and tips, you could actually get some use out of the site.

However, if none of that applies to you and you are not interested in having a successful Twitter marketing campaigns, it is not worth the time it takes to set it up in my opinion.

I have tried to use it, but I have no business, nor am I a celebrity or sports figure with millions of followers. No one I know in a normal life is on there so if I wanted to promote something, such as my work on InfoBarrel, I would have much better success doing so through Facebook.

Final Thoughts

So what does all of that mean for the future of the company and the stock?

The Problem with Twitter

Nothing really, it is just my personal observations. However, it is feedback that management at the company might want to listen to because I do not see the company surviving in its current form.

The best thing for Twitter would be if Facebook, Apple or Google would buy them and integrate it into some other property of theirs. I don’t know how that would work for any of those companies and I suspect, neither do they which is why they have not bid for the company so far.

I can certainly see the value in Twitter if you have something to promote, whether it is work you have written online, or business products or even if your product is yourself such as a celebrity.

But for normal people that just get up and go to work every day, I can tell you that in my world, no one is paying attention to Twitter and that could be a serious problem for them in the coming years as advertisers notice that too.

As for the stock price, I would actually consider buying some shares if it dips below $30 again. There is no question that Twitter has a brand that is not going away. It is integrated into a lot of television shows and newscast. Who knows, it might be a lottery ticket one day so you might want to grab 100 shares. If you had listened to my advice in February about buying Apple, you are very happy right now.

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users
Amazon Price: $25.95 $11.90 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 26, 2016)


May 14, 2014 4:22pm
I do get some extra readers to my articles when I send out a tweet. But it's not as good as other social media platforms for getting traffic.
Jun 6, 2014 5:32pm
There is an article in Wired today about Twitter's problems., many of which I touched on in this article. I'd post the link, but there is no HTML allowed in the comments.

The title of the article is "Twitter’s in Trouble. Here’s How It Can Avoid Becoming the Next AOL"
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  1. "1 in 10 Twitter accounts is fake." NBC News. 14/05/2014 <Web >
  2. "Twitter Stock Price." Stock Charts. 9/12/2014 <Web >

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