Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

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How to Fix Twitter Now. They Were on The Right Track

How to Fix Twitter Now. They Were on The Right TrackFix It Now


Companies evolved along military lines. Even the word, “company” has a military connotation. It means a group of 80 to 250 soldiers commanded by a captain or major.

Commercial companies are far larger. A company with 80 to 250 employees is a small business.

Continuing the military analogy, there are wartime generals and peacetime generals. There are business-builders and business-maintainers. Military or business, there are precious few who excel at both.

I know I don’t.

I’m a builder. I get bored maintaining. I'm not the greatest maintainer. I'm a damned good builder, though.

If someone fell on their head and offered me a choice between being CEO of Google or CEO of Twitter, I’d choose Twitter.

Well, actually, I wouldn’t choose either.

Twitter is in full-blown identity crisis mode. It’s a little over 10-years old and has no clue what it wants to be when it grows up.

That’s not something a CEO, any CEO, can fix. He has too much maintenance work to do. Oh, he can try but he will fail.

You can’t engineer a turnaround of the whole beast. Inertia works against you. You have to move one piece. Make that piece work. Other pieces will follow. Fix the pieces that don’t follow.

Rinse and repeat.

There are four tricks to turnarounds.

1 – Act, do it now

Don’t wait to have all the information before you act. By then, it will be too late. Inertia is the enemy.

Besides, is it even possible to have all the information? Do you even know which information is pertinent?

If you think you do know, you aren’t a builder. We know that there’s something lurking around the corner that will shock the heck out of us.

We also know we can deal with it when it bites us on the ass.

We builders are on the confident side.

2 - Don’t fall in love with an idea

This one is actually #1 part two. When you act, you will take missteps. That’s a guarantee. If that bothers you, don’t build.

Builders are quick to try ideas and brutal in killing failed ones.

The important thing is to figure out why they failed. That isn’t always easy to do.

3 – Your imagination is limitless. Your resources? Not so much.

Resources are not just the financial variety. More turnarounds fail through lack of resource planning than any other reason.

Time is the resource most often wasted.

4 – THE idea can come from anywhere or anyone.

Builders know that the thunderbolt decides who it will hit. It may not be the Leader. Chances are, it won’t be the leader.

Deal with it.

There’s a saying in tournament poker, “Check your balls at the door with your coat.” That means lead with your head, not your ego. It applies equally well to a turnaround.

Most builders recognize this fact. They will proudly exclaim that the Big Idea came from the janitor or intern. They “just” nurtured and developed it.

Most have a hard time saying the same thing about their predecessor.

It’s this “trick” that explains why Twitter will have a hard time turning around. Dick Costolo started the nugget of an idea that can save the day. He was CEO before Jack Dorsey. The Big Idea came up under his watch. Twitter just didn’t take it far enough. Costolo ran out of time. 

No one picked up the baton.

What is Twitter really?

Twitter was founded on March 21st, 2006. It was my daughter’s 16th birthday. If you believe in horoscopes that makes Twitter an Aries. Oy. As an Aries myself, and the father of another, Jack Dorsey has my sympathies.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. What the hell does that mean? It isn’t a messaging platform. It isn’t a blogging platform. You can’t really carry on a conversation on Twitter.

Yet, Twitter insists that you can. It insists that that is its raison d’etre.

Bull biscuits.

What do you expect from a 10-year old? 

At ten, my son was a basketball player. To him, that was his identity. It was also his career goal.

He’s 6’2” now. That’s vertically challenged for a professional basketball player.

It took some doing to convince him that MBA was a safer bet than NBA. Eventually, he got it through his thick Croubalian skull.

Twitter is stuck in the same type of identity crisis.

Twitter you are not a micro-blogging platform. Get over it. Just the term is a non-sequitur. You are a promotion distribution platform. You are also the best, damned promotion distribution platform there is.

Embrace that.

Looking Closer at Twitter, or, what resources are available

Into the MAU of the Beast

I hate the term “Monthly Active Users,” a.k.a. MAU. To my mind, the words “monthly” and “active” just don’t go together. If you aren’t on a platform at least every other day, you aren’t active. Period!

Anyway, Twitter has 313 million monthly active users. Yup, that’s 313,000,000.

That’s a quarter of Facebook’s and three times LinkedIn’s. I’ve read that LinkedIn’s MAU is actually closer to 38 million.

Not that it matters a helluva lot, you can’t reach them all anyway.

And, there lies part of the fix.

API (Application Program Interface)

Twitter has the best API in the business with the possible exception of Google’s massive suite of APIs. If the closest comparison is Google, that’s a good thing.

Sure, some parts of Twitter’s API are pretty wonky. They can’t really document every nook and cranny lest they open the floodgates to spammers and scammers.

The Twitter Super API is another part of the fix

Analytics built right into the platform

Given the existing analytics, any fix can show immediate proof of concept. That’s important to get buy-in from the board, the public, and advertisers.

That isn’t really part of the fix, but it sure helps.

An Open inter-networking model

Twitter’s system is the easiest on which to build. I started on LinkedIn eighteen months ago. I built up to 1500 connections. I started being active on Twitter fourteen months ago. I’m up to 15,731 followers.

That’s after wiping out 3000 or so that were not well enough targeted for my purposes.

This open system is vital to the fix. It does, however, bring issues.

There’s been a lot of talk about trolls on Twitter. Some people even say that the troll issue was why Salesforce pulled their offer. I doubt it. Salesforce isn’t that stupid.

Tweeps can control their feed. They can follow and unfollow in the blink of an eye.

The Original Chat Bot

Chat bots will need to take up some slack. I don’t mean a super-duper AI-enabled thing. You just need a simple method of answering common questions without human involvement. The chat bot should be easy to set up and use.

That already exists.

Twitter Cards

Most people use Twitter Cards and use them often, but they don’t really know they exist.

Every time you click on a Share-to-Twitter button, you create a type of Card. There are eight other types.

If you want a deeper dive into Twitter Cards, read Kristi Hines’ Social Media Examiner post here.

Twitter Cards are mostly for advertisers. They also have their very own set of analytics.

Cards are a huge part of the fix.

Buy on Twitter

Buy on Twitter is also a type of Card like Shares are. The big difference is that it’s a Card with a buy it now button.

The whole Buy It on Twitter thing started on Dick Costolo’s watch. That’s probably it’s biggest problem.

Get over it, seriously.

Much has been made of the lack of success of the Buy on Twitter. I even read an article titled something like “People just don’t buy on Twitter.” No kidding! Most can't even if they wanted to. 

It’s not available to everyone, it’s poorly implemented, and not even targeted to those it would benefit most.

I already said, one of the tricks of a turnaround is figuring out the why behind a failure.

This is one of those times.

Buy on Twitter did not fail because it was a bad idea. It failed because it stayed a test forever. Put another way, it wasn’t taken far enough. It didn’t use all the resources it had access to. It didn’t maximize its revenue potential. A ton of advertisers who could have used it, would love to have used it, never even heard of it.

It didn’t even scratch the surface.

Worst of all, there are plenty of examples of how to do it right. Twitter doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel here.

My Twitter Turnaround Strategy

Before I start on that, let me offer this disclaimer. I’m on the outside looking in. That’s not the greatest vantage point.

I am a Twitter fan. I am a student of the platform. I value the platform highly. I would mourn its demise.

I have no insider knowledge, nor am I privy to the ins and outs of Twitter’s corporate strategy. Everything I know is available on Twitter itself, or searchable online.

Also, this idea is not “instead of the current Twitter” it’s added to the current Twitter. They must be doing something right if 313,000,000 people use them regularly.

Twitter, Embrace your True Strength

Your strength is in promotion and distribution of promotion, not conversation. That’s fine. People and companies want promotion and distribution. Put the micro-blogging moniker to rest already.

Loosen API strings for legitimate advertisers. Allow them the full power of your Beast-API to build their Twitter Following/Market.

You’ll need a vetting process and an ombudsman program. Goof-ups will happen. So will fraud and scams. Be ready to correct.

Data mine your Feed

Dig through it and build personas. What types of Tweeps live where? What are their likes and dislikes? You already have demographics. Flesh them out.

You’ll need this info to recruit your test partners who will end up being the first clients for this fix. While you’re at it, promote the geo-location side of Twitter. It will come in very handy.

Concurrently: Update Buy on Twitter (the technical side)

Convert versions of Product Cards, Player Cards, Gallery Cards, Big Image Cards, and Summary Cards to Buy on Twitter Cards.

That minimal amount of coding will open several doors.

People will be able to advertise via video.

They will be able to showcase a single product or promotion.

They will be able to post several related products at once.

They will be able to sell the stuff not just show it off. When they do, you make money.

Open the Market

I think the Buy on Twitter buttons only work in the US, and, possibly the UK.

Why? What did the rest of the world do to you?

Twitter is everywhere. Why limit the feature? Why do you focus on 385 million and ignore the other 7.1 billion?

Plan the expansion into different markets. Start with Canada, Europe, and Australia. Then head into South America and the Orient.

While you’re expanding that reach, keep the next steps in mind. They’re the real game-changers.

Rebuild the Buy-Now methodology Part 1

Right now, you can build Buy-On -Twitter cards through specific web store portals like Shopify. That’s fine for testing and for growth before opening a new market. That doesn’t cut it long term.

Face a few facts. You will not be able to sell Buy on Twitter Cards as a product. You’d compete head-on with Amazon and Facebook. That’s not the best idea.

Instead, set yourself up as a partner like Amazon does. You’re great at promotion, you’re better at it than they are. So promote and take your cut. There should be no charge for Buy Cards. I’ll repeat that.

There should be no charge for Buy Cards.

Once more. . .

There should be no charge for Buy Cards.

So now, you may be asking, “If there’s no charge, how does this fix anything?”

Okay, so I lied. There’s no immediate charge. Make it a pay-as-you-play thing. A vetted seller can put out his “ads” without paying a dime.

You process the purchase and send the payment once product ships. That’s my preliminary thought and subject to revision/further thought. There are other possibilities. They can range anywhere from a Twitter Visa or MasterCard (both?), to PayPal integration, to Credit / Debit Card processing, to a World Bank of Twitter (okay, maybe not), to simple affiliate status.

Think more “affiliate” or “commission” rather selling a product.

313,000,000 people buy a lot of stuff.

I would go so far as to make the fee sliding. The better the deal they give, the better the deal you give them.

Someone promoting their new Turkey Wings plate will pay one price. Promote it as a 2 for 1 to pay another, cheaper price. Promote it as a 2 for 1 Twitter exclusive offer and pay yet another price that’s even cheaper.

It wouldn't be a bad thing to be known as THE place to score great deals. Now, connect that to geo-location...

Rebuild the Buy-Now methodology Part2

There’s more to commerce than just products. There are also services and e-products. This post is already getting far too long so I’ll just touch on one such topic.

eBooks are a big market. They are a growing market. Right now, independent authors are using Twitter to push people towards their books on Amazon. Yes, you are doing most of the work. Amazon is getting the money.

Wake up.

This idea is even easier to implement than the other one. An eBook is just a type of HTML file. ePub is a generic standard. You are free to adopt it.

You are already in the independent author promotion business. Get into the fulfillment side as well. All it takes is a specific Download Card similar to your App Card. Actually, it should be a cross between the Large Image Card and the App Card.

It would only cost you server storage. That’s pretty cheap these days. Even if you undercut Amazon, you’d be looking at 20-50% of the sale price.

313,000,000 people buy a lot of books, songs, powerpoint templates, apps, etc. They're all just little computer files.

Okay, enough. This post is starting to look like “War and Peace,” at least lengthwise. I ain't no Tolstoy. I’ll just cut it here.

It’s not like anyone at Twitter will even read it, right?


How to Fix Twitter Now. They Were on The Right TrackFix It Now
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