Dallas The number two guy at Twitter resigned to no one’s surprise, since he had been selling off his stock like there was no tomorrow. He had been promoted to try to expand their markets and audience and get some growth going, but given the disappointing growth on the micro-blogging site, his job was the only thing going.
Twitter is not worthless. Many value it, and its numbers still make it something worth some notice and attention. The site claims 255 million monthly users, but its growth is marginal, even as Facebook has passed a billion and keeps chugging. Its users are not so much in love with the service as flirting with it from time to time. Research analysts find only 22% of Twitter’s millions visit the site more than one a month compared to 72% for Facebook. I’ve got to admit that I’ve joined the number who don’t even visit monthly. It’s not worth my time and, frankly, Twitter makes it too hard to keep up.
I raised this question at our recent international organizers meeting. The ACORN Canada organizers are still totally committed to the service and find it valuable in dealing with labor and other allies, but none of the other countries or organizations except for KABF radio really use it much at all. Worse, even as we are often surprised to see the number of our members and leaders who are on Facebook and some of them continually, we just don’t find that they use Twitter at all.
I started thinking about this when an app I was using to try to both post and keep up with my various organizational accounts called TweetDeck radically changed, and I was no longer able to rebuild the site, largely because of Twitter’s difficult password and email access system. Unlike Facebook, Twitter requires a different email address for each account along with a different password. Worse, when you can’t remember which email address or password you used, you are totally stuck and frozen out of your own account. Because another app allows my blog to automatically be posted to the ACORN International twitter account that still happens so they probably count me as “in,” but I’m out. I managed to rebuild individual access to most of my Twitter accounts, but there’s no time in the day or, frankly, in life to reopen each individual site to post, much less to “follow” anything. And, Twitter is no help in solving the problem. Because music and radio are cousins to entertainment, KABF still sees Twitter as valuable, but at radio station the old KABF account is long gone, created by some volunteer, and living in webspace, and given the way Twitter works, KABF as an entity can’t even reclaim it, which is ridiculous.
Once I was off, it was surprising how little it mattered. No one says to me, did you see x, y, or z on Twitter. It’s a passive feed. No one can really follow all of the posts. Worse the followers and the posters are often joined by the thinnest links. Celebrities and others actually pay people to boost their followers by the tens of thousands. The simple trick was always if you want lots of followers, then you have to follow lots of people. Such volume loading obscures any folks you really WANT to follow, and dilutes the value to little more than passivity.
In the world of entertainment, Hollywood, sports, and politics, all of which have become more alike than different in modern life, Twitter seems to have some small value as prescribed communications within the 140 characters of control, but that’s also a passive engagement for the “follower.” As an organizing tool, rather than a simple information outlet, Twitter seems to be failing and to not be capable of mass appeal in the way that organizations like ACORN would embrace. In a limited way it will survive in all likelihood, in the same way that People magazine and press releases continue, but otherwise tweets seem to be fading more and more into the distance, far away from all of us in the maddening crowd.
With too much effort for a negligible yield, Twitter’s just not worth it. The only question for me at this point will be whether its decline will be as rapid as its ascent.