Twitter has done some pretty incredible things over the past few years. It has participated in many incredible social movements including the Iranian Green Revolution and the Arab Spring. It has redefined how news get disseminated to people. Twitter users knew about the US Airways plane in the Hudson River than some news organizations. A Pakistani on Twitter was tweeting during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s camp. I will not take any of this away from Twitter. It has been a powerful tool.
After all of those wonderful things, not much of it has changed. The user experience has never been all that friendly. As an “NF” in the Myers-Briggs temperament category, for the life of me, I can’t write something in 140 characters. Abbreviating language to me is akin to Newspeak from the famous book by George Orwell, “1984”. How much more can we dumb down our lives?
So, it begs the question, have they lost their focus? It seems that when companies start focusing their efforts on how to make money, their original purpose gets lost. Can Twitter honestly say that the user experience is the best it could be after 5 years? There are so many issues with Twitter. The biggest being that users have to “think” about how to use it. My friends over in England that run www.hungarianfootball.com will often do live chats of games for those folks with no access to a broadcast of either a Hungarian league game or a national team game. We can follow them pretty easy, its the other conversations. Yeah…yeah…I know we are supposed to use has tags, but again, using a hashtag requires thought on the users part. The Twitter app on my phone is not smart enough to suggest the hashtag. Why doesn’t it even suggest one?
What made Apple a great company when Steve Jobs was running it was the motivation was to make great products. If you make great products the money will come. The biggest stumble in Apple’s recent history was their maps product. Their motivation was not to create the best map product available, it was to hurt Google’s financially because the iPhone was a big revenue generator for Google. Once their motivation changed, they stumbled. The same criticism can be leveled against Facebook. Now that they have gone public, their focus is on meeting Wall Street’s expectations and not the expectations of their users. Facebook fatigue for sure. After all, what have they done recently? They created a system to mine your data, so they can sell it to marketers and meet Wall Street’s expectations. Has the user experience really changed all that much? No, not really.
I have always said that Social Media is much like Church congregations. Once people get upset with the minister, they will start looking for a new church to attend. While people may not leave either Facebook or Twitter en-masse, they could see active participation numbers start to slowly decline as they continue to down money first path.