Twitter: From Lifeblood To Life Support?

Electronic cables are silhouetted next to the logo of Twitter in this illustration photo in SarajevoMy friend, Wesley Donehue, brought up a subject this week that some of us have long thought, but just kinda let fade away on its own rather than call it out so declaratively. In his blog post Wesley called Twitter, “dead.” Notice he didn’t ask, “Is Twitter dead?” He metaphorically put it out of its misery by pulling the plug himself.

I’ve enjoyed Twitter for a long time. I used to Tweet every now and then, but as more and more folks followed me I Tweeted less and less. While this may seem contrary to how I’m supposed to “work” social media, here’s why. Truth told, I don’t know the great majority of folks “following” me. Consider, my world and my profession are hyper-local, but most of my followers are folks from all over the USA who randomly found me by reading this blog vie a Google search. Conversely, I know every one of my “friends” on Facebook. I’ll probably change my ways soon, but I’ve always subscribed to the thinking that I only ‘friend’ those I actually know on Facebook. Twitter is different. If someone wants to “follow” me, they just hop on anytime they want. Again, Twitter and Facebook are just different that way, which makes for a different comfort level regarding Tweeting and Posting.

As far as a news outlet, I still love it. I can remember blogging about how folks on Twitter could, in some ways, “see the future.” Think of it. I knew Michael Jackson died before anyone else knew Farrah Fawcett passed away hours before.

I knew Osama bin Laden had been killed 30 minutes before my wife saw Brian Williams hit the news, and likely 12 hours before my granddaddy woke up and saw it on any morning news program. I can remember waking Jennifer up from sleeping saying, “Hey babe, watch this.” Sure ’nuff, I knew the news before the news reported the news.

Don’t get me wrong, the Twitter app is still front and center on my iPhone as it’s still a good and fun outlet to know what’s going on…fast. Further still, Twitter has changed the world in many ways. Twitter has been a communication device to start debate and even military battles, and introduced the #hashtag into our everyday conversation. That said, while Twitter has a place, from his vantage point I can see where Wesley is coming from.

See below. Franklin Jones

Twitter Is Dead

I’m calling it. Time of death, 3:59 pm.

I just got out of my weekly client meeting. In every single political campaign report, the time we put into Twitter is not worth what we are getting out of it. What used to be one of our two primary platforms for political campaigns has completely died.

Interaction has dropped dramatically.

Growth in followers has slowed to a crawl.

Traffic to websites for conversions is nearly nonexistent.

Twitter has become little more than a news aggregator for most folks, a place they can get breaking news before it even hits television screens. For campaigns, it’s a place to reach opinion leaders such as reporters. It’s the modern day press release where you reach most people in two steps rather than just one – press writes story, story read by voters.

There is one exception: big races – top tier state-wides and presidential campaigns. Of course no one will argue that Twitter hasn’t been instrumental this year given Donald Trump’s tendency to vomit whatever he’s thinking onto Twitter. But even despite his millions of followers, those tweets are reaching most people because they are being reported by the news.

We had a lot of luck using Twitter this year for Marco Rubio but, again, it was primarily to reach opinion leaders and the most hard-core activists. It was a great tool to recruit and organize a grassroots army. And we did spend a little money promoting tweets, especially to sell merchandise. But that wouldn’t work for the super majority of campaigns in America, which are smaller, local races.

I should also point out that we are seeing good results using Twitter for some of Push’s larger corporate clients. It’s been useful to directly answer questions and serve as a hub for customer service. But not so much for proactive engagement campaigns.

This one stings. I love Twitter. I’ve put more personal time into Twitter than any other platform. I’ll cry as we pull the plug. Hopefully Twitter can apply some CPR and save themselves. But for now I’m hearing that long beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.


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