Several years ago, social media expert, Brian Solis stated that “News no longer breaks, it Tweets.” Sage words that illustrated how citizens around the globe now had the power to report important events before the media — a complete and powerful paradigm shift for how news is reported and disseminated.
With the rise of the citizen journalist, some of the most momentous events of the past decade were first reported on Twitter. Think Sully landing in the Hudson, and Obama taking out Osama.
While Twitter had a meteoric rise, it has also suffered a precipitous drop as analysts have questioned everything from the company’s leadership, to its ability to monetize. More recently, the company has missed the acquisition boat as several of the world’s largest companies have balked at purchasing one of Silicon Valley’s most famous giants.
While Twitter has suffered at the mercy of the what’s-next consumer market, quick to adopt the next shiny social media platform, and the cynicism put forth by the majority of analysts and experts who don’t see Twitter sustaining competition against the likes of Instagram and SnapChat, Dorsey and Co. have had a very unlikely ally as of late: Donald J. Trump.
According to Twitter: People in the U.S. sent 1 billion Tweets about the election since the primary debates began in August of last year. One of the most active people on Twitter throughout the election cycle was Trump himself.
From TacoBowl Gate to “Delete Your Account” Trump provided an enormous wealth of controversy around the election that resulted in millions of re-tweets and plenty of angry thumbs. And with his latest outburst at Hamilton and SNL he shows no sign of stopping as President Elect.
While Trump and his instant highlight reel of 3am Tweets may have reminded us why Twitter is so powerful, and frankly addictive, the millions of controversial microbursts surrounding him have also illuminated the issues that caused the likes of Disney & SalesForce to turn away from a potential acquisition of the company.
As Jim Cramer pointed out regarding the failed acquisitions, “What’s happened is, a lot of the bidders are looking at people with lots of followers and seeing the hatred. I know that the haters reduce the value of the company…I know that Salesforce was very concerned about this notion.”
And this is not a new issue. As former CEO Dick Costolo wrote in an internal memo, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”
Twitter has taken steps recently to address the issue, adding new features intended to help curb abuse on the platform. Users will be able filter out certain keywords, phrases, usernames, and hashtags in their mentions. Whether or not this will stop social media trolls from mooring down the company’s value even further remains to be seen.
So it seems that the same controversial force that made Twitter more relevant than ever in Mr. Trump has also prompted the company to finally take a serious look within and clean up the negativity that’s been hindering the platforms growth.
However, if controversy is the mechanism that fuels Twitter, what will happen when the company finds a way to make the platform more friendly? Food for thought…