In the last few months, many blogs have been published on how to fix Twitter. Twitter has to make a lot of people happy. How can investors make more money, advertisers reach more consumers, power users get new features, and Twitter attract new users—all at the same time?
In this post, I want to focus on what long-term users want Twitter to fix. Until now, not much has changed since Jack Dorsey was appointed Twitter CEO last summer (while still being CEO of Square, how does that work?). We got a new algorithm feed, which is not much different from the “while you were away feature,” and favorites are now hearts. Ideas and rumors of what comes next circulate endlessly.
Why do so many people want to help fix Twitter and have an opinion on this? Because Twitter was developed in a large part by its users. Hashtags, Retweets, and the @ Reply were all suggested by its users before Twitter implemented them as a built-in features. Services like twitpic made it possible to post pictures and videos to Twitter before Twitter also added that functionality. To fix the 140-character limit, there are also several services around, like Twitlonger. Twitter is thinking about adding that feature to its product, too.
All tech-bloggers, startup ninjas, etc., are on Twitter—so who does not have an opinion?
Now think, if you are in charge of running Twitter, people are constantly yelling at you about what to do next. From a guy like me with 400 followers to people with millions of followers. Famous tech journalists, startup nerds, and millions of your users have an opinion about what you have to do. Twitter as a product is a liquid feedback engine, and you have to navigate that Titanic.
Twitter has a long history of adapting and implementing what its users want. However, a few years back, they changed their policies for developers, limiting the API functionality and going against third-party clients (to limit how big such a Twitter client can get and to have control over ads, see Tweetdeck acquisition), which led to a lot of tools no longer working. Jack Dorsey said he wants to “reset developer relations” and start fresh. These were the times when Twitter focused on making money and bought a few startups to bring new services to Twitter (like Posterous, Vine, and Periscope).
Let’s have a look at a few blogs published recently from some power users I think are worth reading.
- @randileeharper published a list of 23 things Twitter should fix. She’s suggesting a fix for the block user option and how customizing your streams should work, fixing the apps, and much more. As a long-term user, I would appreciate most of it being implemented.
- @mathewi wrote about the algorithmic filtering of social feeds. He argues that the critics of the algorithmic feed may fade away and users may adapt to it. Facebook had the same issues at the beginning but usage soared. Did you know that Facebook still has a feature to turn off algorithmic filtering? Until now, everyone representing Twitter says the reverse chronological feed will stay forever, and the algorithmic feed is opt-in.
- @mamtachhikara writes about spam issues on Twitter (and why Twitter will die in her opinion), how to create fake trending topics and bad ROI for advertisers on Twitter.
- @karangoel looks into a future where Google has bought Twitter, and the service has evolved and focused on the live theme for good. I like the idea, but I think buying Twitter at this stage is a complicated matter. Even Google would struggle regarding how to get that right. They did not manage to make Google+ a substantial player in the social networking world (I think Slack would be a better fit for Google).
That’s just four of thousands of published blogposts on how to fix Twitter in 2016.
So, What Do I Think Twitter Should Fix?
- Allow some sort of temporary following. I am very careful of the growing the list of people I follow (and constantly unfollow others), but I would add people more often if I could set a time limit. Being at different conferences, events, and other live events throughout the year means I potentially meet interesting people. However, I am not interested in following more than 500 users, and the lists feature does not work for me (maybe that can be fixed too).
- Subscribe a hashtag and get it in the feed. I would like to have the functionality to follow a hashtag in my timeline for a specific time. When I am at republica this May, I will follow the #rpten tag on my phone; right now I have to switch between tabs all the time. Also, give additional filtering options for #hashtags like geo-location (non-visitors of the conference spam from outside the event), limited to only friends of friends, etc.
- Ignore a #hahstag. You know that stupid TV show every one of your followers watches? No, I am not interested in Tweets about that show.
- Work against automation services (auto-follow/auto-DM). Just tweet something about #growthhacking, and watch the number of twitter accounts trying to make you aware of them. This is stupid and is not useful “social networking.” Remove or very heavily limit how much the API can be used to auto-trigger such tweets/follows/likes. Maybe limit how much automation can happen on an account?
- Limit the possibility to send scheduled tweets (via Buffer or Hootsuite, for example). This is a very important feature for brands, but it destroys the “live” feeling of Twitter. Maybe create separate accounts for brands (like Facebook pages).
- Be nice to developers; give them more functionality via the API and let them do their thing. That has been announced.
- Implement what the Nuzzel app offers as a feature or just buy them. I like the service to discover what’s hot in my Twitter universe as a source for reading material.
- Make it easier to filter for Tweets published nearby. Following a worldwide used #hashtag is not manageable. The current implementation to filter for geo-location is not easy to use.
- Let users vote on features. Sounds stupid at first, but why not try it? You have a few hundred million on your service, and a lot of them are very into Twitter and love it. Why not ask the community what they actually want to be implemented as a feature? Publish a roadmap, and let users vote on five different things to get implemented. Create a board of VIP ambassadors to support this matter within the community.
It will be very interesting to see which direction Twitter will navigate toward in 2016 and whether it can satisfy so many different user groups. As for now, I still enjoy it more than Facebook and hope Twitter will ship a few features for its power users in 2016.