Social media giant Twitter was founded in March 21, 2006, and has rapidly grown to the point where it has more than 25 offices around the world.
The downside of Twitter is that it failed to evolve and keep up with the expectations of users. While this statement may appear overly simplistic, it is the only logical conclusion to be drawn when applying some common sense while observing a few facts and trends.
Combined, these translate in to a poor user experience:
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The 140 Character Limit
The original idea was that shorter messages require less effort and lesser involvement. Unfortunately, it also means that the content of the thought to be conveyed is limited. One can only say so much in so many words, and any attempt at using a series of tweets to say more will simply fragment the conversation.
Over time it has led to a culture of short and often senseless messages written in a seemingly alien language, accompanied by an abundance of hashtags.
Having a meaningful conversation with a potential customer requires moving to a different platform or means of communication, which is often counter productive. Facebook, on the other hand, allows you to open a chat window and have a conversation in real time without leaving the platform.
Due to the 140 character limit, users simply post more messages to compensate. Unfortunately, as the name suggests, you end up with an incredibly cluttered and confusing timeline if you choose to follow any reasonable number of people.
The speed at which new posts are generated means that any of your followers following a reasonably high number of people will not be exposed to your message for long.
In fact, in some cases where a user follows a large number of people, the number of new tweets waiting to be displayed can outnumber the number of tweets visible above the fold. Bad luck can literally force your tweet out of sight the moment it is supposed to be displayed.
Users Display Short Attention Spans
The very nature of the platform creates the need for a continuous shift in focus between what different users are trying to say, resulting in a very short time frame to grab the attention of anyone you want to reach.
Due to the sheer pace at which content is generated and consumed on Twitter, followers of businesses often expect answers within unrealistic time frames.
In the event of a crisis, for instance, followers are likely to expect answers before it is physically possible to compile a press release and present it to the company’s lawyers for scrutiny.
It is Addictive & Distracting
The sheer amount of concentration required to follow conversations and engage with other users tends to make it difficult to withdraw from the chatter at will, and users often find themselves spending more time per visit than anticipated.
The availability of a myriad of third party apps, combined with the ease of connecting other content sources to Twitter, makes it ridiculously easy to generate large amounts of automated spam posts.
Setting up automated spam content, including hashtags for hijacking trending topics, can literally be done in minutes.
Blackhat marketers create fake profiles in astronomical numbers. Others create fake profiles for spreading lies and hate speech. Con artists pretend to be connected to established brands.
Thanks to automation and fake engagement, it is very difficult to separate real from fake without personally inspecting every profile.
In order to generate real user engagement, many people buy retweets. As a result, most people have no idea if the “trending topic” they are following is real, or whether the retweet count was inflated by artificial means.
As such, it is often difficult to discern which trends should be engaged in order to gain additional exposure.
Various software solutions allow users to appear to be online when they’re not. Scheduled tweets, random retweets, and even random generic comments can be automated.
Many users fall prey to this, and end up retweeting or commenting on automated content. It is, however, also possible to monitor conversations, mentions and retweets involving your username, so it is entirely possible to limit your real engagement to responding to questions.
All of these contribute to an increasingly frustrating user experience, which is ultimately the downside of Twitter. Management is working hard to catch up and restore the equilibrium, but it might be a case of too little, too late.
The dwindling levels of user engagement speak for themselves. You may, however, want to keep in mind that even these dwindling figures include a percentage of fake engagement. The real figures must be even lower.