An Open Letter to @Jack About Twitter

i love twitter

Dear Jack,

For a year now, I’ve joked that Twitter is like the girl I had a crush on in school that wouldn’t give me the time of day. One time we played spin the bottle in the basement, and she nudged the bottle to kiss the guy next to me that was a jerk. She broke my heart. And he eventually broke hers. We both lost. Twitter is losing, too.

You wrote in your earnings call:

We’re thrilled to report that daily active usage accelerated for the 3rd quarter in a row, and we see that strong growth continuing.

I’m not sure who We is, but when I heard the term daily active usage accelerated, I shed a tear. You’re kissing the jerk. And it sucks because I was the one that loved you.

You added:

You don’t go a day without hearing about Twitter.

While that’s true, let’s be honest with one another. That’s basically because the term tweeted has been preceded by the name Donald Trump for over a year now.

That guy you don’t care too much about is really the only reason why the majority of people heard about Twitter at all last year. And it appears that’s going to continue this year. Hardly the gift that will bring Twitter to its prior glory.

I’m not a Hack

I’ve been working in the online industry since its inception and traditional marketing prior to that. I watched as Newspapers committed suicide, ignoring the journalistic talent that readers valued them for and trading it for eyeballs and coupons. They fell in love with the jerk.

I’ve done due diligence investigations and provided SaaS consultations on over $3 billion in investments and acquisitions. I predicted (as many others did) the demise of the gray side of the search industry. I was an early part of the growth of ExactTarget and helped start another company that sold to Oracle. I write about Marketing Technology every day. I get around.

And I love Twitter… despite her not listening to me.

How I Believe Twitter Can Turn Around… Quickly

Let’s jump directly to the point. I am frustrated at Twitter because I think the problem is much less complicated than you’re making it out to be. And because I believe you’ve fallen in love with growing numbers – the jerk – that are leading to your own suicide.

The Twitter experience used to be the incredible discovery of an amazing person, brand, or even genius packed into 140 characters. The experience is now like trying to have a conversation in the largest mosh pit on the planet. (I always wanted to use the term mosh pit in an article).

The noise on Twitter is unrelenting… and you’re celebrating that increase in active usage.

Here’s what I would recommend immediately:

  1. Block Repeat Tweets. Stop the madness. On my Twitter account, I shouldn’t be allowed to repeat the same tweet for a specific duration unless I’m paying to promote a Tweet. Why would I pay you when I can just blast an echo day after day? Hint: I don’t pay you.
  2. Charge for API usage per published tweet. It doesn’t have to be a lot… but as a publisher, I would gladly pay a monthly subscription where I can automatically tweet alerts about my articles so that my followers will respond. Spammers will not. They will leave.
  3. Charge for #ad usage per published tweet. Millions of dollars are flowing through your platform every day that you’re not monetizing. Sure, my friends will hate me for suggesting this, but I’m trying to help you – not them. It will reduce the solicitations, and we can always block or kick the spammers who solicit without tagging.
  4. Add Opt-In Direct Messages. I can’t and won’t check my DMs as they’re out of control. I have no idea where to even start but would have loved the opportunity to allow some users to speak to me in private. Right now they’re mixed in with thousands of other messages and I refuse to check them.
  5. Stop sending me emails to follow Pop Culture Twitter accounts that are totally irrelevant to me. If you listened to me (e.g. watched who I interacted with), you’d know that Kanye West and Justin Bieber are people I have zero interest in. While you think of yourself as some social TMZ, it’s not why I use you… and not how millions of others use you. 
  6. Distinguish Brands from People. There doesn’t have to be much of a difference, but it would be amazing if I could tell the difference. I could filter and segment my feed between personal and professional conversations.
  7. Embrace being a Customer Service Channel. Millions of complaints and reviews pass through your platform every day and move to corporations who purchase social media monitoring tools to capture them. Why aren’t you offering tools for this? Why doesn’t Twitter pull the carpet out from third-party apps and do it yourself? I’d love a review bot on my site that would tag me and publish to Twitter for the world to see. I’d love to see you provide sentiment and reviews automatically as part of a brand profile.
  8. Please fix your internal search and autocomplete accuracy. That I have to use searches on Google to find people on Twitter is ridiculous.

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There you have it, Jack. I sincerely hope Twitter won’t stick with that jerk she keeps kissing at parties. Kick the usage jerk and embrace engagement. Twitter’s true love is sitting right here waiting.

Psst… Call me. 😉


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