Friday, February 05, 2016
A bird in the hand: How we're going to save Twitter

Pic: maxymum

Twitter is my favorite social network. I've been on it since 2007, and use it every day for tracking trends, contacting people directly, interacting with companies, and tweeting about what I'm seeing / doing / eating / watching / buying / listening to.

It's upsetting to watch it struggle for a place in the world it helped create. The earnings call on February 10th is being described as its "make or break moment".

So it's time we saved Twitter, and I've worked out what it needs to do.

1. Choose to be open only to legitimate humans or businesses. Facebook only lets real people on its platform. Twitter lets anyone with an email address. Twitter needs to chuck every spammy, fake, anonymous, or inappropriate account off its service immediately. This will cause a worrying drop in user numbers to start with, but it'll get us on the right path.

2. Get rid of 'moments', 'who to follow', 'trends', 'what you missed', and any other junk features. Once it has jettisoned all the fake accounts, Twitter needs to cut out the noisy features too. It's time to strip things back to the good old days of short updates and clean design. Anything that distracts is superfluous and needs to be trimmed away. The one thing to keep is geolocation - and it should be compulsory for every tweet.

3. Open the stream back up. Now the feed is cleaner, the entire firehose of tweets should be everywhere. Any third-party app that wants to use it needs to be let back in. The Twitter apps should be dumped (because they're terrible), and Tweetdeck should receive all the investment. Twitter should also buy Tweetbot and make it free, because it sets the standard for how Twitter should be used.

4. Integrate with search (and by search, I mean Google). Good data that is being updated in a simple and and intelligent way is useful to Google. I want to be able to search Twitter as easily as I search the web, news, images, and videos. Twitter needs to be a tab alongside those. I'd like it next to 'news' please, as the third most important search (because it will be). Twitter needs to be fully searchable by keyword, trend, location, and media type.

5. Change up the advertising model. This ones a bit harder, but once the feed is clean, easily updatable, and properly searchable, it'll be a very valuable dataset to sell ads against. Ads should be pinned to specific trends only, and carefully screened so they're useful. So people searching for 'Starbucks' get an offer for coffee at their local branch. Or people tweeting at a concert get served ads for the next concert by that band, or a link to discover new music they would like based on their tastes.

That's it. Simple. Please share this and let's hope Jack Dorsey notices, and takes the hint. Oh, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter.