On every Twitter earnings call, there seems to be an elephant in the room. That elephant is Monthly Active Users. Over the past 5 quarters, Twitter's barely managed to increase its MAUs by more than 8 million.
It begs the question - has Twitter tapped itself out? Are there only so many people in the world that want such a real time, fast paced social network?
Personally, I refuse to believe that. I see a challenge that can be met, but it's going to require some serious changes to the platform. Twitter needs to focus on what it does well, and perfect those features continuously. Here's a look at what I think Twitter specializes in, and ways that they can improve their core strengths.
1. Real Time News
Twitter is still the best place on the web to follow news in real-time, and its new Moments feature is a great way to stay up-to-date. However, I see some negatives.
While it's fun to play with at the beginning of an event, Twitter's Moments need to be more continuously updated. As it currently stands, they are curated and then left alone until well after the event ends. For example, if there was a Moment which focused on an important NBA game, you'd hope that the story would continually be added to until the game's end - that way if you missed the game, you could see all of the relevant Tweets in one place, and get a summation of what happened.
This isn't how Moments works as of writing. For a game, you'd be able to see a few highlights and lots of warm up action, but the story doesn't follow through until the end of the game. Instead, Twitter encourages you to follow the story, but if the game is mid-way through, you don't have context on what's been happening. Twitter needs their Moments to be continually updated in real time - especially for anything happening live.
This is their bread and butter, and they need to own the space.
2. Thoughts of the Rich & Famous
Celebrities, athletes, and entrepreneurs all use many social media platforms - but Twitter is the place where they really let their voices be heard. On other platforms, it seems as though celebrities are censored by their publicists, or have a team posting on their behalf. On Twitter, though, it's the wild west. Kanye West could start a Twitter feud with Donald Trump at any given moment, and users love to watch it all play out.
Twitter's doing a good job at capturing these stories in their Moments feature, but more can be done. Facebook does a great job of explaining why topics are trending, and this is a feature Twitter should look to emulate. If I see 'Donald Trump' trending on Twitter, I'll assume that he's called someone a loser (again) and won't bother clicking - however, if there were a two sentence write up on why he's trending, explaining that he's closing the gap between himself and Secretary Clinton, I may choose to explore that trend.
Give people context, and you'll be rewarded.
3. The Fun Social Network
Twitter used to be the fun social network - a place where people could talk about #UpgradedRapperNames, or tell each other what they had for breakfast. In order for Twitter to grow, it needs to focus on ways to let users have more fun (Snapchat's done a great job of this). One immediate area that can be improved upon is in the reply section of Twitter.
Right now, if you and 1000 other people reply to a Kim Kardashian Tweet, they all fall in chronological order - meaning, if I click on KK's Tweet, I'll see the latest response below it. This needs to change. Reddit's reply model, for example, has the most upvoted responses reply at the top of the page, and fall into threads for organization. This could be replicated, if you used favorites and retweets as engagement indicators. This way, you'd guarantee that the funniest/best responses would always show right below any original Tweet, making the platform more fun for everyone.