Will Twitter Become a Public Utility?


As I hear tweets mentioned daily on the news, I find myself wondering what the future of Twitter will look like. Will it continue to be a necessity for social media marketing? Or are we approaching a time where it becomes less valuable? As marketers, how should we think about the future of Twitter?

Let’s take a quick look at what others have to say:

Chris Abraham, Biznology.com – To summarize a recent post from Abraham, Twitter isn’t going anywhere for the following reasons:

  • It is essentially becoming a public utility – a valuable commodity used by the State Department, Open Source Intelligence (NSA, NRO, CIA, FBI), and Corporate Intelligence (NASDAQ, DOW, etc.).
  • Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat don’t do what Twitter can do, all these years later. “Bieber could leave Insta but he would never leave Twitter — I mean, 91.7M followers!”
  • Twitter has become a de facto customer service channel in many ways. The public has learned that it can be liked, retweeted, and responded to by their favorite brands, celebrities, and influencers (or someone representing them) on Twitter. That simply isn’t the case on other social media channels.
  • While it isn’t necessarily a news source, Twitter does provide real time, less-censored intelligence in a way that is different from other media outlets.

Davey Alba, Wired.com – So assuming that everything Abraham believes is true, Alba would probably say, “that’s great – so what?” Twitter’s real problem, as seen in their latest earnings announcement, is that they are struggling to monetize their success. Where all other popular social media platforms take advantage of video and other advertising, Twitter’s platform doesn’t lend itself to video. Its fast scrolling, constantly refreshing content makes it easy for users to ignore traditional advertising and it doesn’t encourage the user to pause and watch… despite Twitter’s efforts to jumpstart aggressive live streaming partnerships (e.g. Bloomberg, NFL, etc.).

Marty Swant, AdWeek – Swant is significantly more optimistic on the future of Twitter and video. He lists eight statistics that show how hard the company is working to tie its future to video and the its results so far.  I will be the first to admit I am a late adopter when it comes to consuming media in a new way, so I have not personally participated in any of the live streamed events mentioned in his post, but Swant seems to make a more optimistic case that Twitter can stay relevant in the future.

So far, I’m not completely sold on Twitter and video/live streaming. Combining Alba and Abraham’s thoughts, I have to wonder if Twitter will eventually become a true public utility. We will all accept it as a given, but it will never be a moneymaker. Marketers will use it primarily as a way to provide customer service, more comparable to a call center than as part of a push advertising strategy.

What else should I read on this topic? Any thoughts to add? Please comment below or (haha) find me on Twitter at @RachelLColello.


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