In an age where there seems to be one piece of technology for every tree that lines a suburban street, it can make one wonder where it will end. Just about everyone carries a smartphone in his or her pocket, bag or purse. The rise of smartphones has meant that people are interacting with the capabilities of their phone more often, which means more time is spent in front of that glossy, rectangular screen. One of the thousands of applications provided for smartphone users is Twitter, which in the recent wake of mixed comments afforded by its most watchful investors and fans, is planning to provide a broader appeal to its millions of users.
Having the option to carry a mobile communication device in one’s pocket has meant that millions of people in the U.S. alone are communicating more often, despite the fact that the mode of communication is not always the spoken word. While the average person checks their phone about 110 times per day, or close to five times per hour, the most frenzied of phone-checkers are taking a gander about 900 times per day, nearly 40 minutes out of every hour. As often as that is, one app that has not received as much interaction and growth as was recently expected is Twitter.
When launched in July of 2006, it only took the platform six years to obtain over 500 million registered users. But as Twitter has risen to the ranks of fame, only half of its registered users have been active users, with the company announcing 255 million monthly users in their first quarter report, an increase of 14 million from the most recent quarterly report. Some of Twitter’s investors have not enjoyed what they are calling slow growth, and Twitter is responding with plans to provide a broader appeal. The social media platform that just last year was one of the ten most visited websites in the world does not want to place themselves on the back burner.
Twitter just released a new format of their user interface that unashamedly mirrors Facebook’s current layout. For a social media platform that was launched in fairly ingenious ways, this is the only aspect of their new charge ahead that appears to be quite lazy. Even so, as Twitter works to be able to widen their gates of appeal for the everyday user, this interface change may be enough to convince people to take a closer look.
With Twitter’s 255 million regular users to Facebook’s 1.28 billion, the micro-blogging app will have to push their growth initiatives full on if they want to end up boasting numbers that are anywhere close to Facebook’s monolithic collection. That is precisely why Twitter aims to become an app that will level more of their digital field. In the instance of Facebook, there can be entire classes of students, groups of friends or family members that primarily only interact with each other. With Twitter, the original design and appeal of the platform facilitated exactly that – an Internet stage from which figures of influence and acclaim could circulate their work, or nuggets of information that would appeal to their followers.
The company wants to capitalize on the masses of “inactive” users that it has every month, along with those who are regularly using its platform, tweeting multiple times daily, and customizing their Twitter immersion. With a wider perspective, it can be likened to any company whose product reaches millions more people than are actually interacting with it. Sure, customer growth is most objectively measured through sales and revenue, but even though everyone does not consume Coca-Cola, its reach is much further than the numbers that are the bedrock of sales.
The users who hopped onto the Twitter train just as it was launching in 2006 have gotten accustomed to the then-uncommon aspects that Twitter used to popularize and permeate hashtags, retweets, follow backs, and each of its other notable features. With Twitter’s plan to provide a broader appeal, some of these early supporters will not take well to the fact that their once tightly knit community will no longer be as sacred. As for the company’s own viewpoint, there should be no need to call it quits just short of where plenty of fresh territory awaits them.
Opinion By Brad Johnson