Twitter Turns 10: The Industry Reacts

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Twitters launch (or at least, its first tweet). Weve already taken a look back over the companys history, but we also reached out to some of the industrys best and brightest to get their thoughts on Twitters past, present and future.

Thomas Husson, VP and principal analyst, Forrester Research
Thomas Husson Forrester“In the past 10 years, Twitter has managed to establish itself as the 21st Century Reuters, offering unique and still untapped value in enabling real-time access to information. Twitter remains first and foremost a public broadcasting mechanism, which is why it is successful as a second-screen TV experience – but it lacks the one-to-few functionalities that makes messaging apps so successful.

Coupled with the lack of more personalised and filtering options that would make tweets more relevant to end-users, this prevents Twitter from really going mainstream. The end of the character limit wont enable Twitter to dramatically change the user experience, and the challenge for Twitter remains attracting new users without alienating existing ones.

On the advertising front, Twitter has made great acquisitions, like MoPub and TellApart, to add more sophisticated targeting and tracking tools and to expand reach beyond its own walls. But it wont be enough to monetise the audience if they cant first improve engagement on the platform and add new users.”

Shaun Jordan Triniry Mirror low resShaun Jordan, digital sales director, Trinity Mirror
“10 years in, and Twitters audience growth seems to have stalled at just over 300m MAUs. Numbers like these do not drive the share price forward, which is why it is currently sitting around $15, way below the high of $53. With a strong commercial team in place, though, the revenues have continued to come in, with the first quarter of this year looking to be around $460m, an increase of nearly half year-on-year.

In a world dominated by Facebook, are people deciding that platform meets all their sharing needs? If so, the months and even years ahead could be challenging for Twitter, even as the revenue keeps rolling in – for now.”

Adam Croxen, managing director, Future Platforms
Future Platforms Adam Croxen“Twitter proved to be the perfect supplement to live news and TV – the original second-screen experience. From Match of the Day to Eurovision, it’s allowed millions of us to read and contribute to conversations on the topics we’re most interested in. In many ways, though, that has been its downfall as well. Today, the density of tweets per second on trending topics can often make it impossible to keep up, and most of us are following too many accounts that are posting too many links.

The problem for Dorsey is that it’s going to be difficult to reign Twitter back in to its earlier proposition, and each new solution seems to create another problem. You might argue that the algorithmic timeline is designed to alleviate some of the mania, for example, but really that just contradicts Twitter’s core proposition as a reactive, real-time comment platform.”

Jon Hook PhunwareJon Hook, GM advertising, Phunware
“There is no doubt that Twitter has become part of the social set for consumers, despite slowing growth, but Im not convinced the same is true among advertisers. Twitter had a reported 130,000 advertisers at the end of 2015, versus Instagrams 200,000.

Google and Facebook are usually the first two line items on any media plan now. And with Snapchat making significant investments in its advertising product, coupled with its faster growing video base, Id expect this to further impact Twitters slice of the advertising pie from both brand and performance advertisers.”

Jon Mew, chief operating officer, IAB UK
Jon Mew IAB“Twitter has impacted so much in society, from the world of politics to celebrity – and obviously marketing. Twitter has enabled brands to see the conversations that are being had about them, and to be part of them. It has allowed brands to improve relationships with their customers, advertise and target new ones, and amplify their offline advertising. Its hard to think of many platforms that have been so well adopted by and used alongside other media, particularly TV.

One of its undoubted strengths, and perhaps a key part of its popularity today, is that it was built deliberately for mobile devices. While consumers have had to wait until last year for most brands to be optimised for mobile, Twitter was 10 years ahead of them.”

Rob Thurner BurntheskyRob Thurner, founding partner, Burn The Sky
“I’m amazed how the vast majority of people on Twitter never tweet, but use their daily Twitter fix to get an immediate and unedited snapshot of the world about us – whether its global events or trends, or just to keep tabs on their mates and celebs – by simply following a set of hashtags.

For brands, the real value lies in the tracking: building sentiment and geo-location based heat maps, and using that intelligence to detect the faulty fryer in a McDonald’s before your staff flag it up (#soggychips) or to find and hire your latest smart recruit (#genius). The businesses that piece it all together, to deliver faster and better customer service and to engage the most influential tweeters, will get the greatest value from Twitter in the decade ahead.”

Harry Dewhirst, president, BlisMedia
Harry Dewhirst BlisMedia“Thanks largely to broadcasters, celebrities, media outlets and citizen journalists, Twitter has emerged over the last decade as a unique real-time news and information source. It has given anyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.

From our point of view, though, Twitter really became interesting when it bought MoPub in 2013. It was representative of Twitter’s shift from its calling card as a social media provider as it carves out a new role in mobile overall. It’s a tricky venture that involves a lot of change, but it could successfully dampen mounting doubts about the company’s direction in the long run.”

Ross Sleigh SomoRoss Sleight, chief strategy officer, Somo
“Twitter’s early success came from disintermediating any third parties between creators and the consumers. No longer did we have to rely on content intermediaries in order to connect with our celebrity heroes, cultural icons or opinion formers. We felt closer to these creators because of this but despite the potential of participation with them, Twitter became primarily a direct broadcast channel for their opinion. But by choosing who we followed, we created what is probably the largest mass market example of personalised content streams.

Today this usage will drive healthy revenue growth for Twitter in contextual advertising, as it has a mass audience and is an easy purchase for scaled targeted media buys. But in terms of growth of the service we need to change our expectations – Twitter is no longer a social network and will no longer will grow with the same metrics. Instead, I think it is now one of the worlds biggest personalised content curators.”

Simon Andrews, founder, Addictive Mobile
Simon Andrews Addictive“10 years on, it is really hard for someone new to Twitter to know where to begin. In my view the best thing Twitter could do is buy Nuzzel and use that to drive an edited option: tweets the people you follow found valuable. And blending that with a smart use of lists would be a quick win. Imagine if you could follow all your teams players in one click? Labour MPs, the cast of Coronation Street, the top 50 celebs… You get the idea. Like the Twitter equivalent of Lego starter packs.

Overall, Twitter is doing pretty well at 10, but the stats obscure its true value. Lots of non-logged-in people see tweets, and that reach isn’t truly valued – yet.”

Mark Challinor INMAMark Challinor, president, INMA
“I recall visiting Twitters San Francisco office of Twitter two years ago. They presented to the news media group I was with and while it shouldnt have been a huge surprise to us, it was indeed revealing when we realised they knew nothing about their subscribers. Anyone joining Twitter just had to log on with an email address, and that was it. No further info required. This rang an alarm bell as to how they could sustain a long term future.

Fast forward to today, and as they have grown numbers and the commercial offerings, they’ve not gone for simplicity. Business Twitter is still a mystery to many people I know, and the companys recent moves have been to complicate and expand the overall product without clear explanation.

In my opinion, Twitter need to examine and research the foundation of its business – its loyal users – to find out what they truly like about the service and refocus, as Apple did, on a few easy-to-understand products and services.”