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Twitter lost the average Joe and Jane (and they may never return)

Matt Kapko | June 23, 2015
Almost 10 years and 302 million active users (MAU) after its launch, Twitter remains a confusing, social media free-for-all. While it's embracing change on the periphery, its namesake platform remains an increasingly lackluster and frustrating experience for users. If you don't regularly use Twitter now, the odds are you never will.

Almost 10 years and 302 million active users (MAU) after its launch, Twitter remains a confusing, social media free-for-all. While it's embracing change on the periphery, its namesake platform remains an increasingly lackluster and frustrating experience for users. If you don't regularly use Twitter now, the odds are you never will.

Its poor user experience is matched by equally disappointing financial results. Despite surpassing that 300 MAU mark, ad revenue recently declined for the first time since the company's IPO in late 2013 and the current annual growth rate of its user base (18 percent) just isn't enough to feed the appetite of Wall Street.

None of that gets to the root of what's really wrong with Twitter, though. Most people either love Twitter for its quirkiness and insistence on brevity or hate it because they can't easily find anything of value. After almost a decade on the social media scene, for most people there's no compelling reason to use Twitter. Whereas Facebook probably has hundreds of millions of users who log in monthly for one specific reason or another, it's fair to assume those same people can get by without Twitter altogether.

After all, what are they missing? If Twitter is still struggling to answer that most basic question, why should the rest of us even bother?

On Twitter you never know what you're missing

Birds of a feather flock together on Twitter, which means you miss out on tweets from birds of a different feather and all the useful and insightful tweets that are posted to the platform every minute of every day. Surfacing the best, most important or relevant tweets has become increasingly prohibitive.

Forget about any fear of missing out, on Twitter you are guaranteed to be missing something important and much more interesting than what you see in your feed. Twitter leaves almost everything up to you, which is great in theory but in practice it's running Twitter off the rails.

It takes a lot of work and patience to be on Twitter and most people are giving up. Fewer than one out of every three people who have signed up for Twitter are using it at least once a month today. That's 302 MAUs out of more than 1 billion accounts established to date. As New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote recently: "Twitter may be alone among large social networks in turning away more people than it attracts."

Twitter can't make users go it alone

In a world of algorithms and human curation, finding the most important tweets or following conversations on Twitter is a chore that people shouldn't have to deal with on their own. Failure and fatigue sets in too quickly for Twitter to keep most users engaged.

 

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