Twitter is struggling.
Its user growth rate is declining (clarification: It’s still adding users but not as fast as it once did). Some of its once biggest proponents suggest Twitter is dying. One vocal shareholder (who loves Twitter) has some strong words for the company (this is a great read, by the way). Twitter users show up, try it out, and don’t stick around. Ads don’t seem to be working (or so I’ve heard — I have no first-hand knowledge of this). However, what I can speak to is: When my clients ask me where they should be advertising online, I prefer Facebook to just about anything else right now.
Not surprisingly, the former CEO has resigned and is being replaced by one of the founders.
I like Twitter… but I want to love it. I think it has potential. I think it has plenty of untapped upside that just needs to be mined.
So if I were the Twitter CEO, here’s what I would do.
SWITCH FROM BEING A SOCIAL MEDIA SITE TO A “NOW ENGINE”
Several times in the last couple of months I’ve wanted to search something and when I go to Twitter’s home page, I’m met with this screen, which requires me to sign in to search…
I don’t mind signing in because I have an account and I’m usually near a computer (and I’m always signed in on my mobile). But there are times when I just wanted to quickly check something and I now had an extra step of first signing in before I could search.
By creating a home page like this, Twitter stakes its claim as a social media community first, rather than what it really is: A way for people to get a pulse on now.
I don’t think Twitter understands this. Just check out Twitter.com/Search:
That’s bland and less helpful… and there are only a small handful of trending words. And you only get to this page if you know about it.
The fix: I think Twitter’s main page should have a nice big constantly-changing picture (similar to what it has now) across the top 2/3rds of the page with a huge search line in the center for people to search.
Below the search line there should be a few user-friendly ways of sorting results:
- By location: Internationally, Nationally, State/Province, City, or GPS-based location
- By information type: News, Weather, Sports, Business/Finance, Reviews
And in the bottom third of the page, or perhaps on a long scroll below the fold, there should be dozens of themed flat-design boxes/cells/blocks that link to a live collection of tweets on a particular theme. Perhaps these could be auto-sorted (or user-sorted) by topic/theme, location, information type, most active, etc. For example, during an election, there might be a box for #election that people can click on to see a feed of election tweets.
ADD TUNING/MUTING FEATURES
Twitter allows you to make some minor adjustments to your feed by unfollowing or blocking someone. But I want more functionality here: I want to tune my Twitter feed much like I tune my Facebook feed. I sometimes want more of someone and less of someone else. But beyond people, I want to be able to tune topics as well: I sometimes want more of one topic and less of another topic.
It should be easy to do and something I can set ongoing or temporarily. (Ongoing for those annoying topics I don’t care about and temporarily for those times when I watch a NASCAR race that I’ve recorded on my PVR and don’t want to see the results of that race until I’m done.
Twitter has a “Who To Follow” and “Trends” section but these have always been pretty weak. Granted, you can find interesting people to follow using the search function but I think Twitter could do more. For example, when I click on the “more” button in a tweet…
… I should get options to find “people who are a lot like this person” or “people who follow this person also follow…”
I want to be able to create and manage multiple Twitter accounts from a single sign-in. Right now I have my own personal account @AaronHoos, a business account @REIcopywriter, plus a couple of accounts for clients. Each one has its own sign-in. Just give me one sign-in to manage all of them.
When someone posts a link in their page, I want to see a preview of that link, maybe similar to how Facebook “embeds” an image of the site, or perhaps in a fly-out. Give me more info about the site before I click to it so I know what I’m clicking to.
I’ve got a few other ideas that need further refinement before I post them but let’s start with these, please Twitter!