Why does Twitter want to change so badly?

by Alexis Serneels

For a couple of months, Twitter has been performing several changes on his user interface. Even though none of these updates has been announced as permanent, one thing is certain: Twitter wants to change. Why is that? We make a recap on this article.

Twitter nowadays

Since Twitter's IPO last year, a lot of pressure has been added on the blue bird's shoulders. Even if the first report was pretty good in term of revenue, users growth stays a concern among investors.

Twitter only has 241 million monthly active users, compared to the 1,23 billion of its competitor Facebook.

Twitter Reach: Q4’13 avg Monthly Active Users 241 million, up 30% y/y. #TWTRearnings— TwitterIR (@TwitterIR) February 5, 2014

What are the reasons of such low growth knowing that, on another hand, Twitter becomes more and more a reliable source for news, research and information?

Twitter's problems

Firstly, Twitter is complicated. Or at least, it's more complicated than social media like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Unlike these visual media, Twitter's content is more text-based and has its own vocabulary including #, @ and other acronyms.

For the story, hastags and retweets's were firstly invented and used by users before that Twitter integrated officially later. It created a great loyalty from early adopters. Unfortunately it's making it harder to attract new casual social media users.

Let's face it, Twitter is not mainstream enough.

Secondly, Twitter drives too much content! You will quickly find yourself following a bunch of people, which are all tweeting everyday. It's then not possible for you to read everything going through your timeline. The only feature that Twitter gives you to help you manage this massive stream of information are Twitter lists, but it's far to be enough.

Recent Twitter's changes.

As a consequence of all this, Twitter wants to change and being able to touch a wider audience. Here are a recap some of the attempts Twitter made recently:

Photos are getting more social. We're unveiling two new features: photo tagging & adding up to 4 photos per Tweet:— Twitter (@twitter) March 26, 2014

Facebook wants to be Twitter and Twitter wants to be Facebook

It's always difficult to implement new features and please everyone. It has been especially the case with last Twitter interface updates. People criticized it as looking way to much like Facebook. Maybe Twitter should try to insist more on aspects that makes it unique rather than copying what other services do.

"It strikes me that both services would do better to improve their own services rather than attempt to ape the other's." Matt Asay

Social networks are trying to be the best at everything. Rather, Twitter and Facebook have to understand that they are two really different social media and that we like them just as they are. As Matt Asay says, Twitter is closer to a news tool than a place where you speak with your friends (like Facebook).

"Twitter, essentially a news site, wants to be more friendly. Facebook, essentially a place to hang out with friends, wants to be more newsy."