by Elena McWright, CDAE Public Communication major at the University of Vermont.
Social media platforms have become increasingly popular all over the world as a resource to all for spreading news, personal information, and promotions of all kinds. For Twitter specifically, it has been used since its birth in March of 2006 as a social media outlet where news can be shared instantly in the form of “tweets.” As in many social media platforms, on Twitter you can follow and “retweet” any friends, celebrities, or causes you relate to and feel the need to share. So you may be thinking, why would Twitter be in a state of decline? It sounds like a strong and fun social media outlet for everyone to keep up with news as easy as the click of a refresh button. Every social media outlet must fight to compete for that top seat in the line up of news media and as most marketing specialists know, the Internet is changing everyday, constantly evolving and updating to “what’s next”. If businesses like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat do not keep up with these coming and going trends, they run the risk of slipping through the cracks. While Twitter has so many important qualities that are well liked by users world wide, it also had a lot of drawbacks that leave people feelings tentative about the utilization of this platform in relation with it’s competitors. This idea brings up the frequently asked questions by users such as, “Is Twitter a useful social media tool? Is the party over? Has Twitter become a one-way conversation with everyone talking and no one listening?” (Cuevas, 2016). These questions bring us to the point that Twitter needs to step it up or they will continue to lose traffic to the site and in turn lose revenue to the business.
In 2015, a man named Derek Thompson decided to do a personal study on Twitter and how it correlates with the personal engagement of their brand, The Atlantic. He dove into the “View Tweet Activity” feature on the platform and realized that could tell you how many times your tweet appeared on someone’s screen and if they decided to click on it, or to go even further, share it. We have learned that marketing specialists crave this information because they can find an answer to the question, “What phrases best correlate with Twitter engagement for our brand?” (Thompson, 2015). So Thompson decided to post an image with a link to an article on The Atlantic about the history of American innovation through text literature. “The most popular new idea inputs by decade” was what the picture showed and he believed it would be catchy to the readers on Twitter. At the end of the week he checked the Tweet activity and found this particular tweet had 155,260 impressions, meaning a view has seen the tweet, 2.9% of those who saw the tweet actually clicked on it , and 1.1% favorite or “retweeted” it. But the most important part of this information is that only 1% of those who clicked on the tweet actually went to Derek’s story, which means everyone else just directed their traffic to The Atlantic website. He then looked back to his past 100 most popular tweets to find that even his most engaged tweets barely generated any click through statistics. Basically the moral of the story is, 99% of Derek’s labor for this company on Twitter went to the benefit of Twitter itself, leaving only 1% for The Atlantic. This means that even though companies may think they are generating leads and traffic to their own website, Twitter is actually getting the better 9/10ths of that stick. “The more sophisticated takeaway is that Twitter is worthless for the limited purpose of driving traffic to your website, because Twitter is not a portal for outbound links, but rather a homepage for self-contained pictures and observations.” (Thompson, 2016). This does not mean Twitter should be looked at as useless to businesses that want their brand advertised, but an eye opener to the marketing teams who want to advertise their personal company. It is important not to rely solely on any social media platform for advertising and promotions because like in the case of Derek Thompson and The Atlantic, you may not be getting the results you thought your were.
On the other side, David Cuevas preformed a similar test with impressions and clicks on Twitter. He proposed the question, “if I hadn’t taken the time in more than a year to engage with my followers, why should I expect them to care about anything I have to say?”. The concept of active engagement on Twitter and any social media platform is crucial for sufficient marketing success. After he reengaged himself on Twitter as a constant presence for 30 minutes a day for 30 days, he concluded that people are still using Twitter effectively with their audience. With his increased engagement, his click through rates and impressions were up 600% and he had gained 375 real followers based on his real engagement on Twitter. These experiments and studies done by Cuevas and Thompson show the two different sides of how Twitter can be helpful and how it could be a waste of time for your business. Instagram and Snapchat thrive highly in today’s social media world because they are using photos and images to announce news. This new trend, over straight text, is another reason why Twitter may be struggling to maintain traffic to the site. But, while Twitter does struggle with a lot of aspects for social media standards, they also aren’t completely dead yet. Many businesses and individuals like Twitter because it is “a fast way to get the message out, it can help you stay on top of your industry’s market segment, aids in engagements with new and old customers, and it can help you business refine it’s brand” (Ward, 2017). One can focus on generating traffic to your own website and use Twitter as a platform to just keep you customers updated. The most important thing to understand from this analysis on the rise and fall of Twitter is that everyone’s experience is different and getting results are all about the effort you and your business puts in. Twitter is an excellent source of news updates and advertising, but it should not be your only outlet to market your business, brand, or organization.