Is 2017 really going to sound the death knell for Twitter? The social platform is more or less being written off by media watchers who think there isn’t much life left in the old tweety bird. In spite of currently hosting more than 300 million monthly active users, the little creature is languishing within the confines of its 140-character cage and the prognosis is not good.

Growth has stagnated. New users are confused by idea of having to précis their communication into short, pithy 2-liners. Vine – the short-form looping video app – has been shut down. It’s standalone live video streaming app Periscope is feeling the heat of Facebook Live’s presence in its playing field. 9% of Twitter’s global workforce has been terminated. Top management people have bailed out. The micro-blogging service, with its sullen resistance to change, is phasing itself into irrelevance and ceding ground to younger, livelier social platforms that are strongly focused on staying current and meaningful in this fickle Age of the Upgrade.

Even Twitter’s conciliatory move to relax the 140 golden rule with extra add-ons like quotes, polls, videos and images without losing valuable character space is being pooh-poohed by pundits who feel this innovation will blow up in the face of a platform that built it’s reputation on brevity.

So how did it all go so terribly wrong for the social behemoth? Here are my thoughts:

CHARACTER LIMITATION HAS LOST ITS NOVELTY VALUE

• Once upon a time, users were enamored with the idea of a 140-character limit. The imposition was hailed as an economy that de-fluffs social communications and forces clarity. That moment has passed. The new generation of users are frankly puzzled by this rule that disrupts their expectation of being enabled to communicate within personalized parameters of their own choosing.

INNOVATION IS IN SHORT SUPPLY

• Forget about the brat pack in social media for a moment – the younger platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, that were born within the social churn – and look at Twitter’s contemporaries who’re still going full-steam ahead. Facebook for example, with its 1.94 billion monthly active users. Not a month goes by without some tinkering going on at Facebook with new refinements of its marketing analytics, changes in newsfeed algorithms, design makeovers, app upgrades etc.

In contrast, the social scene is serene on Twitter with no humps, no bumps, and very few mediocre attempts at product innovations. Nothing much has shifted or moved on Twitter; it is essentially the same platform that was launched over a decade ago.

IT’S SPAM CENTRAL

• Political powers have shifted and governments have fallen on account of Twitter’s vulnerability to communication abuse. Millions of fake accounts are propagating malicious messaging for public dissemination, and then lobbing them around with fellow members until agenda-loaded tweets have gone viral. Spambots are peddling everything from pornography to malware and hijacking genuine accounts. As many as 48 million Twitter accounts that are interacting with human users are bots at play. And in spite of Twitter’s best efforts to control this epidemic, so far it has proven unequal to the task.

THE PLATFORM IS NOT FOR THE IMPATIENT

• Scheduled tweets do not spell instant stardom on Twitter – not even if you do it multiple times a day. To thrive on this site, media managers, for example, have to look beyond prepared messaging and engage constructively and continuously in the conversation. Comments pass between users like a shuttlecock, unlike Facebook where a press of the `like’ button will acknowledge and end it. So Twitter isn’t a great social solution for part-time players. You’re either all in – like so many of its root followers are – or you’re not. For modern day users who are essentially multi-platform participants, Twitter is an immersive experience that’s simply not worth their time.

 

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