Breaking News: Is Twitter still a part of Social Media?

Posted on July 20, 2016

As the summer of 2016 winds down there is even more proof that the royal social media family is losing one of its own.  For the last few years, Twitter has been slowly growing more and more indistinct as a social media placeholder, lacking the diversified features of Facebook or the raw entertainment value of YouTube.  Twitter has tried many short-term experiments to solidify its user base (such as creating ways to make direct purchases of products from newsfeeds), but these haven’t resonated with the social media industry enough to replenish the old novelty that Twitter was built on over ten years ago.  But in a surprising recent turn of events, Twitter has launched a massive rebranding campaign that has moved away from the “social network” platform in favor of “live streaming” and the result has been an unusual but exciting frontier for its users.

Tweet to Your Strengths
While it’s true that Twitter briefly considered going head-to-head with Facebook and launching an actual social network, the company has gone with a shrewd and cunning approach by taking advantage of its greatest assets: notoriety and live information.  The growth of Twitter users may be slowing down, but the Twitter brand is still synonymous with social media as a whole and there’s no other place that acts as a better online publicist than Twitter’s celebrity news feeds.  Indeed, earlier this year Twitter changed its category in the Apple iTunes Store from “social networking” to “news,” further emphasizing that it plans to put their best foot forward and transform itself into a key source of information.   In a recent digital ad campaign, Twitter shows a rapidly-changing set of video clips depicting events from all over the world, telling its users to turn to Twitter to find out “what’s happening, what’s trending?  How did it start?  When will it end?”  Already Twitter is live-streaming sporting events and news conferences more and more, imbedding hashtags in the content to speed up online trending, with promises of more to come as the presidential election looms closer on the horizon.  Given that politicians, celebrities and sports figures are the current primary source of fuel behind Twitter, defining itself as the best social media news portal is as clever as it is practical.

But Don’t Overtweet Your Hand
In a recent survey given by Twitter resulted in roughly 90% of those surveyed recognizing the Twitter name, but those same people did not say that they were in fact Twitter users themselves.  Despite the new campaign to redefine itself, Twitter’s floundering success as a business tool (or perhaps it’s failure in becoming one) means that there are little measurable methods available to judge its value.  Sponsors and investors alike have made money with Twitter largely based on name recognition alone, which has made the company a cash cow, but the long-term ROI of a company that is little more than the mouthpiece of the social elite is questionable at best.  Nearly all of Twitter’s current features are available with every other major social media platform, but the reverse is certainly not true and internet users are notorious for disliking redundancy.  As Twitter is committing nearly all of its resources to fuel this marketing campaign, it’s no exaggeration to say that if this rebranding fails, the company will be in serious trouble.  Redefining itself to be a live-streaming source for news and video is bold and brilliant, and may indeed have the potential to rekindle Twitter’s former fire in the social media world, but for now, it’s better to wait and see what’ll happen. 

Article by Joshua Rood

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