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Why Is Twitter?

October 24, 2016

Snow White.jpgLike every other business today, Boardwalk includes a certain amount of social media activity in its marketing mix. Content marketing is a great way for a B2B enterprise to demonstrate its expertise and competency. There are terrific platforms available: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., and they all have a purpose. They all can add value in some degree or another, depending on the needs of the business. All, that is, except for Twitter, or so it seems to me. Even though I’ve been tweeting for a while now, its difficult to say if it’s really doing Boardwalk any good. But perhaps I’m doing it wrong. You see, I’ve never really been able to figure out what Twitter is all about. What is it for, really? And perhaps I’m not the only one trying to figure it out. Twitter has been losing money for some time now and is desperately looking for a suitor to bail it out and give it a second life. But, apparently, no one wants to buy it.

Google. Disney. Apple. Facebook. Microsoft. Verizon. Comcast. News Corp./21st Century Fox. Salesforce. Alibaba. Tencent. They’ve all taken Twitter out for drinks. But none of them seems to want a second date. Why is that?

For one thing, Twitter is expensive and high maintenance. It is popular. It boasts 300 million active users. That’s a lot of eyeballs so it is expected to sell for a whopping $18 billion. But it is not profitable. It burns through millions of dollars each quarter. Whatever firm takes it on will have to have enough cash on hand to both make the purchase and cover a ton of immediate losses. Then it will have to find a way to turn the tide and make Twitter profitable. That will most likely happen if the buyer has other assets that Twitter can leverage in some sort of synergistic way. So far none of the available suitors fit the bill. They either don’t have the money or they don’t have the assets to leverage. Or, if they do have the money and the assets, they have far better options than to overpay for Twitter.

And another thing … let’s not forget that Twitter has baggage. Of us 300 million tweeters, fully half of us appear to be bat-shit crazy. When you hear about abuse and vitriol and hate-speak spewed out online, a lot of that happens on Twitter. Recently, for reasons that remain unfathomable to me, the comedienne Leslie Jones had to fight off a digital lynch mob organized, in large part, around Twitter. There are plenty of other shameful examples. Twitter has announced efforts to curb this kind of abuse but, really, no one in management knows quite what to do about it. How do you eliminate the crazy from Twitter when crazy is what succeeds on Twitter? The people who do best on Twitter are the ones who seem a little, shall we say, off kilter. I’m looking at you, Kanye and Donald, with your tens of millions of followers … each.

I’m not giving up on Twitter just yet. I’ll probably even tweet this article. But I don’t quite know why I ought to do it. I remain unclear about what Twitter is actually is meant to do for me, beyond giving me a platform to broadcast my opinions on things I may or may not know anything about. Every brand has to have a purpose, a reason to exist, a reason we should care about it. Why should any of us care about Twitter? What problem does it solve for us? When Twitter can succinctly answer that question, they could well see a clear path to profitability. Maybe then they won’t need a white knight to ride to their rescue.

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