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This article was published on June 24, 2016

Why we should all be very worried about Twitter

Why we should all be very worried about Twitter
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

We have 1.67 million followers on Twitter. But sometimes I miss the days when we only had a hundred thousand followers. Back then, when we had only that many followers, we’d get about 10,000 clicks on every link we shared – within minutes. We still get a fair amount of traffic via Twitter, but the numbers are a lot lower. Follower numbers keep growing, but engagement keeps declining.

Sometimes we even see more retweets than visitors, which means people retweet links to articles they themselves aren’t reading.

This is not news. Lots of publishers, writers and marketers, as well as regular people, are seeing declining engagement on Twitter. And it worries me. Because if those numbers keep going down, there will come a time where we will lose interest in Twitter as a platform.

That’s how things end. The audience stops interacting, then the influencers lose interest – which means there’s even less to interact with for the audience – and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself in a downward spiral as a social network.

That’s apparently not how Twitter sees it. Or at least not publicly.

Last night I discussed this subject with someone who had just spoken to some higher-ups at Twitter. He had also expressed his concerns, and relayed their semi-official reply to me. They argued that they were happy being number three, behind Google and runner-up Facebook. And that’s fine with them.

Twitter feels it has enough data and usage to stay relevant and generate revenue. According to my source, they spoke with confidence and told him they weren’t worried. And that worries me even more.

Being a solid number three sounds great. Except it reminds me of Blackberry. They were also number three, for a while. Apple and Android passed them by and I remember their public position sounded similar. They still had lots of users, a lot of data, and they were happy with being number 3.

But we all know that’s just not how it works. That position is not a given, and lots of data quickly becomes useless and worthless, unless a lot of people are generating fresh data every day.

I really love Twitter and it is still my favorite social platform. I also use Facebook, Snapchat, Linkedin and Instagram (and a bunch of other networks), but I’ve always really loved the simplicity and efficiency that Twitter offers.

I’m not predicting the end of Twitter. That would be a cheap shot, and I don’t take any pleasure in seeing the company fail. The world is a better place with Twitter in it. I just hope its executives are secretly worried sick, and working on some great ideas to fix Twitter and make it relevant again.

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