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This article was published on December 14, 2017

It’s almost 2018 and we still have to explain how Twitter works

It’s almost 2018 and we still have to explain how Twitter works

Twitter today released two new ads showcasing what it’s for and how to use it. It seems as though the ubiquitous microblogging app is having some trouble onboarding new users.

The two videos, starring comedian Romesh Ranganathan as a kind of Twitter mentor, explain some of the basics of Twitter in a flippant tone that seems less tutorial and more parody in parts.

In the first one, Romesh coaxes a timid potential user named Kenny G — there’s a reference millennials are sure to get — to join. There’s no explanation as to why Kenny has a number of horror puppets in his home, unless this is what Twitter thinks non-Twitter users do with their time.

The second is a little less patronizing, as Romesh follows another neophyte named Julio around on a segway and explains how the Explore tab works in the app.

My first thought is that this seems to come a bit late. Twitter has been a staple of social media for years now — it’s a bit past the point to start telling people exactly how to use it.

But then again, Twitter’s recent changes seem to indicate a slight identity crisis. First the company doubled the size of tweets this year, along with updates that make it easier to tweet longer thoughts in the form of threads. Second, it’s retooling its verification system. It’s almost as though the site is trying to become something other than the place where strangers fire popcorn kernels of though into the ether.

I’m not sure Romesh’s commentary is enough to really orient the non-initiated, but at least Twitter’s trying to make the effort to seem user-friendly. Now if only we could get Snapchat to do the same thing.

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