There’s no doubt that millions still love Twitter. Tweets are in the news every day and remain fodder for late night comedy shows. Millions react to messages from everyone from President Donald Trump to Kim Kardashian, and breaking news often lands on the micro-blogging site before it hits anywhere else.
Yet even as its major competitors — Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube — continue to rapidly expand, Twitter seems stuck with relatively the same number of users. The San Francisco-based company seems to have plateaued and hasn’t found a way to sustain any new growth.
Twitter reported failure to add any new active users in June, and in the last quarter, the company actually lost two million users. That news caused Twitter stock to drop by double digits, and now everyone from Wall Street to the Main Street businesses that could sustain Twitter’s profitability are wondering if the company has simply hit its ceiling for growth.
There are many reasons Twitter has struggled to grow beyond these limits. Some users don’t like the permanent limits on individual tweets, and find the interface either unnecessarily frustrating or too limiting in many ways. Then there are those who simply see Twitter as the epicenter of online harassment, the place where one errant tweet or misunderstood comment can create a massive, nonstop bullying campaign.
Case in point: recently singer Ed Sheeran appeared on an episode of the hot HBO series “Game of Thrones.” For some reason, this caused many fans to rage on Twitter. Then all the trolls piled on. The incessant hate and nasty messaging was too much for the singer, who eventually closed, then purged, his account. Later, he announced plans to drastically limit Twitter and stick to Instagram. This is hardly an isolated incident, and Sheeran is definitely not alone in the sentiment.
Unfortunately for Twitter, many of the reasons a lot of social media users hate Twitter are the same reasons many users love it. They like the ease, the simple messaging and the opportunity to connect with — and openly criticize — public figures. It doesn’t matter if they take advantage of this opportunity or what they might say; they just appreciate the direct access.
So, how does Twitter keep these folks happy while creating an environment in which others will begin using their platform? It’s a difficult question to answer, but it’s a hill Twitter leadership will definitely have to climb if they want to break through this ceiling that is holding them back and limiting their profit potential.