How Do You Solve a Problem Like Twitter?

NYT twitter image

Woes at Twitter continue resulting in the company’s worst stock decline since its IPO. What triggered the dip? Here are the basic facts:

  • Prematurely leaked earnings reporting
  • Lower than expected earnings results
  • Dissatisfaction with social media stocks in general

At the time of this post, Twitter’s stock is trading at $37.6/share amid a number of issues that include branding confusion, slow audience adoption and limited monetization offerings. If you were Twitter’s CEO what would you do to fix the issues? I presented a few ideas in this post but would love to know what you think.

What Are the Issues That Persist?

1. Twitter’s Biggest Issue Continues to Be Confusion Around Branding

In my estimation, Twitter is a real-time media platform (which I’ve written about before) yet Twitter has still not wrested control of its messaging. Instead, Wall St continues to dictate public perception about the company, which from all angles, is losing the battle to remain relevant in investor’s and user’s eyes.

2. Audience Adoption Has Slowed Due to Difficulty of Use

Those of us who use Twitter regularly are familiar with the steep learning curve involved in ramping up truly valuable user engagement. Heck, much of my work as a Social Media consultant is centered in the fact that most of my clients don’t understand how to use Twitter. Twitter’s audience based hovers around 300 million making it one of the giants in the social media space, yet the company’s inability to advance user adoption and growth is hurting its public perception.

3. Twitter Struggles with Monetization Offerings That Satisfy The Street

Perhaps Twitter’s IPO came too soon as it seems unable to develop ways to monetize its business much beyond offering ad products. Twitter advertising represents a whopping 89% of its overall earnings! Rut-roh! Too many eggs in that basket. The company needs to get more creative here and diversify its earnings potential. It IS starting to—recent deals include an advertising partnership with Google, Partner Audiences (for Ad Targeting off Twitter), and Syndication with Flipboard and Yahoo! Japan—but Twitter needs to grow more aggressively with non-advertising revenue streams.

What’s a CEO to Do?

Prevent the Twitter vs. Facebook Comparison – Twitter should invest in its own advertising strategy hiring the best agency minds in the world to promote its significance, aggressively. “Think Different”? Hell yes!

Apple: think different

Provide Better Guidance Around Its Holy Grail = Content – Twitter could offer curated content streams in key verticals a la LinkedIn Pulse for better user adoption. For example, let’s say you’re a business user solely focused on information about startups. For us power users searching for the appropriate #hashtags (#startups) will guide our path but Twitter needs to make this really obvious for new and casual users. Perhaps a short Content Guide could pop up upon registration or log in to help folks get started…and voila! Ready, set, Tweet!

Monetize Twitter Search – Twitter just started to do this by charging third parties for access to its Data Stream. But I think Twitter could become a huge player in Search, especially in Mobile where the vast majority of its audience engages (80% MAUs). Perhaps if Twitter partnered with one of the new arrivals in this space (Vurb, Quixey, URX) or Google itself (Google Now), it might develop an extremely valuable revenue stream in mobile search.

I’ve been a Twitter zealot and advocate since 2008 and am currently a disappointed share holder, so these views stem from my frustration. Help me out here – share your thoughts about how we can improve Twitter’s reputation and brand perception.

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