Twitter's structure deters regular users

Twitter is struggling to maintain its growth of active monthly users, having suffered from a steady decline in user growth since 2010 and having experienced a net negative monthly user growth in Q4 2015.

The site has been trying to maintain its competitiveness in the cutthroat environment of social media platforms.

This can most clearly be seen by Twitter’s stock performance since its initial public offering in November 2013; the shares were initially priced at $26 per share from where it reached its all-time high of $74 in December 2013. Today, the price per share has since steadily declined to $15.

In Twitter’s Q1 2016 shareholder letter that was released in late April, the company reported that the average monthly active users count reached 310 million in Q1, which was up an anemic 3 percent year-over-year, and up 1.6 percent from the previous quarter.

Twitter has recently announced some changes to its notorious 140-character limitation, perhaps hoping to stimulate user growth through increased simplicity. It will no longer count media attachments or “@” mentions used in replies toward the 140 allotted characters. It will also eliminate the need for a workaround involving the insertion of a period before a leading “@” mention in order for a tweet to be seen by a larger audience.

These changes do little to address the true causes of Twitter’s stagnating user base. Twitter is a fairly niche social networking platform that rode the waves of exciting originality. Twitter, however, is now suffering from the ebb of that tide. Twitter’s main focus is simplicity, concision and instant communication to a large audience.

This does not appeal to many people. Respectfully, most Twitter users are relatively unknown.  While the follower count may dictate the popularity of a user, most people probably do not want to read what is being said by regular users. Why would you desire to post content to a public audience of strangers who will largely ignore you? It is very likely that your friends read and retweet your posts, but perhaps Facebook is a better outlet for that kind of communication.

Essentially, if you are not a celebrity, public personality, organization or public figure, Twitter has almost nothing additional to offer you in comparison to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms. The problem with Twitter is not the usability of its platform, but its lack of appeal to the mass market because of its fundamental structure.

Twitter was never meant to be the next Facebook, so maybe we should stop thinking about it that way.