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Twitter: A Dying Social Media Outlet or a Tried-and-True Tool

TwitterEarlier this year, mRELEVANCE wrote a Back to the Basics: Social Media 101 series focusing on the importance of blogging and social media platforms for businesses. It has taken us six months to realize one very important aspect of our series: while we were lecturing on the importance of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+, we forgot all about Twitter! As a company who makes a living in social media and marketing, how could we forget about a social media platform that has been around for 10 years? This made us ask the question, is Twitter still relevant?

While our mRELEVANCE team actively uses Twitter, we have to admit that we’re guilty of pushing it to the side. Looking through past blogs, we noticed that we haven’t even talked about Twitter since 2013 when we discussed how to utilize Twitter’s custom timelines for your brand! It wasn’t that long ago that people would have argued that Twitter was more than just a social network; it was a way of life! However, adjustments to the platform have produced changes that have made it hard to follow conversations and posts, especially with this year’s release of the algorithmic timeline that more closely matches the Facebook news feed than the original chronological Twitter feed. These changes have potentially resulted in a platform where a lot of people are talking, but few are listening (and engaging).

Twitter has made other changes along the way to try and help its audience grow. Links and attachments, such as pictures and videos, used to count as part of the 140 character count; now it does not, allowing more room to say what’s needed while also placing more importance on multimedia content.

Although Twitter is making positive changes to help it retain and grow its audience, it still has several issues that need to be handled. Unlike Facebook, which gives users the opportunity to block individuals and provides more safety filters for its audience, Twitter still identifies safety as a main concern. Many celebrities have reportedly completely shut down their Twitter accounts due to massive bullying.

Financially, Twitter has always struggled with growth, but it seems to be taking a turn for the worse. The company struggles to gain users and get advertisers to devote substantial shares of their ad budgets to the social network, leaving Twitter fighting against the much larger and better-financed competitors. It has been reported that several high-end company members have left the company and are now working for the competition. In the past, we’ve seen a similar situation when Blackberry was fading due to Apple and Android devices. We all know how that era ended!

As a company that specializes in producing fun and interactive social media, we have to admit that Twitter is becoming more difficult to use for the purpose of interacting. We’re not calling it a lost cause yet though! Regardless of numbers, Twitter is still a place to follow and connect with brands. Twitter statistics show that 42 percent of users learn about products and services via Twitter and 41 percent of users provide opinions about products or services on Twitter. And best of all, we see high time on site from visitors clicking through to our client’s websites from Twitter.

One of the challenges that brands are seeing is the lack of direct contact with other users due to platforms like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Crowdfire, which essentially automate the entire Twitter experience. While these tools are extremely useful, they also tend to take away the easy engagement opportunity that is native to the platform. If brands aren’t actively on Twitter browsing the conversations that are going on, they’re missing out on a HUGE opportunity to interact with their followers or potential customers. And customers are surprisingly adept at discerning when brands are being authentic online, or when a brand is attempting to do nothing but sell to them with every single tweet.

How to fix this issue? Create authentic engagement! If you’re not actively interacting with your followers and caring about what they have to say, why should they care about you, your brand or your message? Set aside time to engage with your new followers and people that retweet you, like your tweets or reply to you. Then, spend time interacting with other brands or services that relate to you, or your current vendors, clients or customers. Finally, search the hashtags relevant to your industry or area, and involve yourself in the conversation. Click on content that interests you. If you find things that really resonate with you or your brand, like and retweet it.

Are you still using Twitter as a social platform or do you find that it is slowly fading? Let us know! And, please follow us @mRELEVANCE. Our managing partner, Carol Morgan loves Twitter, follow her at @AtlantaPR where she has tweeted more than 16,000 times since 2008.