Twitter will last for next year
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All the social networks are businesses and must find options to monetize their operations. Platforms are not charging users for the use of the system; therefore, it is necessary, to find the alternative service categories to generate revenue.

In the case of Twitter, you, as the user, are the product. Why? Because your information, once is sanitized, can be used to sell demographics to advertisers, ads, and other marketing alternatives. Let’s start understanding the product, the user, you.

The Business Purpose

Twitter is not an NPO, it is a business that requires profit generation in order to survive. Despite the current purpose of contribute to the public conversation in real-time with trusted sources, the fact is that many people use it for fun and entertainment, and maybe this approach should be reviewed.

Improving User Object

Twitter has the User Object; it contains Twitter User account metadata, that describes the Twitter User. Users can author Tweets, Retweet, quote other Users Tweets, reply to Tweets, follow Users, be @mentioned in Tweets and can be grouped into lists (2022, Twitter). This object contains the following metadata:

User Data Dictionary

AttributeTypeDescription
idInt64The integer representation of the unique identifier for this User. This number is greater than 53 bits and some programming languages may have difficulty/silent defects in interpreting it. Using a signed 64 bit integer for storing this identifier is safe. Use id_str to fetch the identifier to be safe. See Twitter IDs for more information. Example: “id”: 6253282
id_strStringThe string representation of the unique identifier for this User. Implementations should use this rather than the large, possibly un-consumable integer in id. Example: “id_str”: “6253282”
nameStringThe name of the user, as they’ve defined it. Not necessarily a person’s name. Typically capped at 50 characters, but subject to change. Example: “name”: “Twitter API”
screen_nameStringThe screen name, handle, or alias that this user identifies themselves with. screen_names are unique but subject to change. Use id_str as a user identifier whenever possible. Typically a maximum of 15 characters long, but some historical accounts may exist with longer names. Example: “screen_name”: “twitterapi”
locationStringNullable . The user-defined location for this account’s profile. Not necessarily a location, nor machine-parseable. This field will occasionally be fuzzily interpreted by the Search service. Example: “location”: “San Francisco, CA”
derivedArrays of Enrichment ObjectsEnterprise APIs only Collection of Enrichment metadata derived for user. Provides the Profile Geo Enrichment metadata. See referenced documentation for more information, including JSON data dictionaries. Example: “derived”:{“locations”: [{“country”:”United States”,”country_code”:”US”,”locality”:”Denver”}]}
urlStringNullable . A URL provided by the user in association with their profile. Example: “url”: “https://developer.twitter.com”
descriptionStringNullable . The user-defined UTF-8 string describing their account. Example: “description”: “The Real Twitter API.”
protectedBooleanWhen true, indicates that this user has chosen to protect their Tweets. See About Public and Protected Tweets . Example: “protected”: true
verifiedBooleanWhen true, indicates that the user has a verified account. See Verified Accounts . Example: “verified”: false
followers_countIntThe number of followers this account currently has. Under certain conditions of duress, this field will temporarily indicate “0”. Example: “followers_count”: 21
friends_countIntThe number of users this account is following (AKA their “followings”). Under certain conditions of duress, this field will temporarily indicate “0”. Example: “friends_count”: 32
listed_countIntThe number of public lists that this user is a member of. Example: “listed_count”: 9274
favourites_countIntThe number of Tweets this user has liked in the account’s lifetime. British spelling used in the field name for historical reasons. Example: “favourites_count”: 13
statuses_countIntThe number of Tweets (including retweets) issued by the user. Example: “statuses_count”: 42
created_atStringThe UTC datetime that the user account was created on Twitter. Example: “created_at”: “Mon Nov 29 21:18:15 +0000 2010”
profile_banner_urlStringThe HTTPS-based URL pointing to the standard web representation of the user’s uploaded profile banner. By adding a final path element of the URL, it is possible to obtain different image sizes optimized for specific displays. For size variants, please see User Profile Images and Banners . Example: “profile_banner_url”: “https://si0.twimg.com/profile_banners/819797/1348102824”
profile_image_url_httpsStringA HTTPS-based URL pointing to the user’s profile image. Example: “profile_image_url_https”: “https://abs.twimg.com/sticky/default_profile_images/default_profile_normal.png”
default_profileBooleanWhen true, indicates that the user has not altered the theme or background of their user profile. Example: “default_profile”: false
default_profile_imageBooleanWhen true, indicates that the user has not uploaded their own profile image and a default image is used instead. Example: “default_profile_image”: false
withheld_in_countriesArray of StringWhen present, indicates a list of uppercase two-letter country codes this content is withheld from. Twitter supports the following non-country values for this field: “XX” – Content is withheld in all countries “XY” – Content is withheld due to a DMCA request. Example: “withheld_in_countries”: [“GR”, “HK”, “MY”]
withheld_scopeStringWhen present, indicates that the content being withheld is a “user.” Example: “withheld_scope”: “user”
Twitter User Data Dictionary

As the User Data is the main product, it is necessary to maintain the product within a process improvement cycle. And in this stage of life of the product, some additional metadata could be added to improve user engagement and data quality for advertisers.

Metadata Improvement

As many metadata you have from a user in order to segment the population, the better. Of couse this metadata should be collected with the user approval. Some metadata to be included is:

location_country. The country where the account was registered. This is important for marketing purposes and for legal issues as well. Although there is an attribute (location) in place, this is provided for the user without restriction, and you may find values as “Mars”, “The Universe”, “Your Heart”. ¿You got it? This is fine for fun (and should be leaved as it is), and user experience, and the new attribute must be added.

location_postal_code. Maybe the best way for segmentation is to know the postal code of the address. You may be able to extrapolate a lot of data using this single number and complementing with other syndicated data.

location_country_roaming. This should be the country, where the user is currently located, and may be different from the registration country. Knowing this will make possible offer to the user more relevant content, and services.

Also is convenient to include the location_postal_code_roaming and location_preferred, that the user could select to personalize the experience.

social_networks. The accounts the user has in other social networks. People likes to have several social networks, and also enjoy listing all of them as possible. If Twitter allows users to setup their social networks, will improve the user experience and will have additional valuable information from the user. Many users engage with specialized lists to show all their networks.

Twitter Accounts are very general, but certainly, social networks are used for companies and individuals to extend their business activities through the internet. And the User Object, is considered only for regular people without considering whether it is a company or a person with business activity. Despite there is a Professional Profile, and a Professional Spotlight, some additional information could be collected from the user, in order to setup a professional profile such as:

is_business_profile. If the profile is intended for conducting business as the main purpose.

business_name. The legal company name behind the account.

type_of_business. The business type.

business_size. The business employees number.

business_offering. The description of business’ products and services.

With this minimal information, it will be possible to segment the professional business profile, to leverage Twitter to better conduct business with small, medium and large enterprises.

The Tweet

Tweeting is the main core activity within the platform, it is the way the user create content, and as many contents be created, more possibilities to insert intercalated ads. So, the driver must be to incentive the user to create, re-Tweet, like, and comment Tweets in order to keep moving the Twitter Engine.

With this context, the current Tweet length of 280 characters should be maintained, the reasons:

  • If the length is increased, less Tweets will be created. No good for ads.
  • More storage.
  • Boring for the user that prefer short messages.
  • Removing the incentive for the user to be creative writing the Tweet in 280 characters.
  • And users prefer video or images before reading text.

So, just leaving like it is? Maybe not, some additional features could be included:

Social Network Embedded Post. Some people like Twitter, because they feel, they have more freedom compared to other social networks, but certainly, they will continue using other social networks. What if Twitter becomes a container that comprises all the media from creators, allow them to share the content they have in other social networks, without link to the other network, just displaying the content. This could have additional benefits when the storage is in other platform, instead of twitter. Less resources required. Also, the sharing of webpages contents could be encouraged, but not encouraging the user reader to read the content, at the end of the day, the platform is not a babysitter.

Sensitive Content. This is a big topic in Twitter, there is a lot of mature content in the platform, and many of them escape from automated filters, because of the lack of settings of the user when posting. Maybe is better to set by default, not to show mature content when created and account, show the interstitial message for mature content, just one time, once the user has selected show mature content, and flag all the content of a user that post mature content, as mature, no matter what post.

The problem is that many users posting adult content use tags like anime, pokemon, game, or trending topics, to post; and this kind of post reaches users that not necessarily prefer that kind of content. The rule should encourage users to flag their accounts as mature. If they are planning to post mature content, all their posts will be tagged as mature, and only will be viewed by other accounts that selected the option of show mature content. Failing this rule will block the account for ever.

Automated Posts. Although there is a rule to encourage tagging automated accounts, it should be reinforced in the platform. If the account is not tagged as automated, the API should not work over that account. Also, the status could be automatically set, when the account authorizes the API.

Retweet By. It is a reality that users retweet a lot, and the user experience for some users could be the option of retweet by one hour, and unretweet automatically after one hour.

Is Bulling / Spam. An additional option could be a flag as bulling / spam, and then silence the account only for the user who is reporting.

Ad Free. Just an ad free version.

Some of these features could be offered for premium accounts.

Defining Twitter Products and Services

In the first place we may categorize the offering for personal (individuals without business activities), professional (individuals with business activities and companies), agencies (digital marketing agencies) developers and other partners.

Offering for Individuals: Standard Account

In general, services offered for individuals should be free of charge, as it is, but some limits, with a minimal impact, should be implemented:

  • Number of Tweets per month.
  • No Access to API, only Apps.
  • No Access to Twitter Deck.
  • No Monetization.
  • No Tweet Statistics and Analysis.
  • Access to Verification Process Unavailable.

Ads to promote Tweets must remain with cost in the offering.

In case they want to have an additional number of Tweets beyond the limit, the user may buy a Bundle of Tweets and increase the limit.

If the user wants to access API functionality as a developer, without being a developer or want to use the Twitter Deck, or monetize; an upgrade to Premium Account, to access additional features will be required.

Offering for Professionals

The simple way is to offer a Premium Account, this account is primary oriented to individuals with business activities within the platform and companies. With this account they should be accessing to the same functionality of Standard Accounts, plus:

  • Larger Number of Tweets (Bundles should be available as well).
  • Enriched Profile.
  • Tweet by Topic.
  • Access to API (with additional plan purchase).
  • Access to Twitter Deck.
  • Monetization.
  • Access to Premium New Features in the platform.
  • Bundles of Ads (with additional plan purchase).
  • Tweet Statistics and Analysis.
  • Campaigns (with additional plan purchase).
  • Demographics (with additional plan purchase).
  • Access to verification process (no cost).
  • Ads Removal.

Premium Account could be charged with a similar amount like other social networks that offer this option. A discount for launching, or a free test period, or try and buy, could be offered.

Offering for Agencies

Agencies must be treated as a special partner for the company, packs of advertising options and features should be developed for this category, including:

  • Geographical Ads.
  • Topics Ads.
  • Twitter Take Over.
  • Promoted Ads and Twitter Amplify.
  • Followers Ads.
  • Interstitial Ads in Popular Tweets.
  • Ads in Profiles of Standard Accounts.
  • Ads in Notifications.
  • Ads in Messages.
  • Ads in Search.
  • Ads in Trends
  • Ads in News.
  • Interstitial Video Ads.
  • API Integration.
  • Twitter Deck.
  • Multi Retweet.
  • Tweet Statistics and Analysis.
  • Campaigns.
  • Demographics.
  • Managed Accounts.
  • Automated Accounts.
  • Twitter Multi Account Manager.

A monthly fee should be charged to agencies with plans and limits in the use of the offering.

Developers

The offer to developers should be remain the same, but a clear new offering for commercial use should be developed specially for apps with intensive use of the platform.

Offering for Other Partners

Academics, NPO, NGO, or other social organizations, or individuals may have special treatment in the platform, depending on the case.

¿Fake Accounts or Unattended Accounts?

This has seen as a risk and a problem, but depends in the perspective, in the beginning, no one used their own real name, it was common to select a nick name. Now accounts with nicknames, in many cases, are considered as fake accounts. ¿But when a fake account is useless for the community?

  • When the account is agressive with other members, and the account’s contributions are not relevant for the community.
  • When the account is not attended by a human, and it is not posting relevant content.
  • When the account is inactive and is not contributing to the conversation.

People may have several accounts for different reasons, the first one is to have a personal account and a business or businesses accounts. Other reason could be to interact in different communities with different profiles; maybe someone wants to interact with one account in a community related with technology, another account for personal stuff, and another one for the porn. Maybe is crazy, but it is possible.

The important thing is to have accounts with humans in front of the screen, creating relevant content, interacting, and receiving publicity and promotions from sponsors.

And also automated accounts, creating relevant content, valuable and consumed by communities, are important, because produce content that allows the ads insertion.

In the other hand, accounts created for the single purpose of increase followers counts, perform bulling activities or spamming, should be banned.

To identify fake accounts with no movement is pretty easy, in general, those accounts are created similar, and has no posts, no interactions, and in many cases no followers; but the most important thing is the interaction, the use of screen hours using the platform.

To identify if a human is in front of the screen, an ad-captcha could be implemented, when tweeting or retweeting, an ad that requires human interaction in order to identify that a real person is there. If an account fails the test, and is not tagged as automated, it should be reviewed.

The initiative to delete inactive accounts should be continued, but maybe some relevant screennames should be kept by Twitter and listed for sale.

Finance and Metrics

Debt Obligations

In case it hasn’t done, the first critical activity to take into account is restructuring of debt obligations of $1.5 billion issued in 2018, with due in 2024. Restructuring must be accompanied with new funds to finance the new operations.

Annual Report FY2021

The Twitter Annual Report for FY2021 reported:

FY2021 US$

Total Revenue: $5.08 billion
Advertising Revenue: $4.51 billion
Data Licensing and other Revenue: $571.8 million
US Revenue: $2.84 billion
International Revenue: $2.24 billion
Loss from Operations: $492.7 million
Net Loss: $221.4 million

Company is losing money, and that is not good for any business. Urgent changes must be done to improve performance.

Metrics

Currently Twiter has the Monetizable Daily Active Usage or Users (mDAU). The mDAU Key Metric is defined as people, organizations, or other accounts who logged in or were otherwise authenticated and accessed Twitter on any given day through twitter.com, Twitter applications that are able to show ads, or paid Twitter products, including subscriptions.

The metric is OK, but not enough to track the business, additional metrics should be added, such as:

Monetizable Daily Single User vs Total Users. The percentage of single users accessing the platform in a given day divided by the total users in the platform.

Daily Conversion Rate. The percentage of Monetizable Daily Single User that interacts with the ads or buy products or services.

Average Revenue per User. The total revenue divided into all the platform users.

Average Revenue per Monetizable Single User. The total revenue divided into the Monetizable Single User Total.

Operations

Twitter is a web application, pretty simple in fact, and the operation of the technology is not complex from the technology approach. It is a matter of managing capacity to keep a smooth user experience.

Maybe the more challenging task is content management, especially large image files and video, but also nothing special with the available technology in the market. With an approach of embedded third-party content, some storage requirements could be reduced.

Technology should not be a problem for the company, if the required actions to manage capacity in databases, web servers and data links are correctly managed.

Maybe one mayor activity that is not generating revenue and causes cost are reports. People reports other accounts for several causes: spamming and bulling, inappropriate content, or just for fun, or because of jealous. No matter what, reviewing this is a cost for the company. There are some kinds of reports, that should be managed with special care, such as all related with violation of the law. But many others are not so relevant and are more related with the rules imposed by Twitter.

Reviewing the Twitter’s rules to implement automated responses to user reports is mandatory. If the user reports another account, the reported account must be blocked only for the user that is reporting the account, and this process can be automated.

Only critical reports of breaking the law or repetitive undesired misconduct, should be reviewed by a human team.

Operations must concentrate in revenue generation activities to maintain the run rate and create new business from Advertising Revenue and Data Licensing Revenue. With the improvement of the User Object, the data will be more valuable, and advertisers and data scientists will be more willing to pay for the syndicated data. Data Licensing should be the same size or bigger than Advertising Revenue, but certainly is a challenge.

Also processes to accommodate new functionality and better sever agencies should be reviewed.

Sales and Marketing

Must of the sales in Twitter should be automatized, with easy workflows within the applications and instant payments with credit cards. Besides, automated processes for agencies also are required to reduce the need of a large sales team. With the new User Object, Twitter users will be more interesting, not only for large corporations, but also for Mom-and-Pop Stores in every neighbourhood. Creating a local conversation will improve user engagement.

The sales team should include Corporate Accounts Managers, Agency Account Managers, and a Team of Telesales for Small and Medium Business.

Sales Quotas must be established covering all the revenue categories. And should be integrated to reach the break-even point, stop losing money and start generating profits.

Marketing Activities should be mainly performed in the platform, letting know the audience the benefits and alternatives. Advertising in Twitter must be offered not only for benefits within the platform (Boost Engagement and Followers Grow) but more conversion in the business escenario with Call To Action options in promoted Tweets to increase sales or brand recognition of customers or better serve their clients.

Besides, in general, I never seen an Ad about Twitter in Twitter.

Conclusion

Anyone can create a social network, but not anyone can have a grow in users like Twitter did. It worth to keep the company running, making the necessary adjustments to stabilize the company and set a foundation for advanced services integration within the platform, like payments processing and value-added services from business customers and partners.

Javier Torres Madrigal

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Sobre el Autor

Javier

Nací en la Ciudad de México. He vivido la mayor parte de mi vida en la CDMX y el Estado de México. Estudié Ingeniería Industrial y de Sistemas, y una Maestría en Administración de Empresas, ambas en el Tec de Monterrey. Y posteriormente he tenido la oportunidad de estudiar una Maestría en Administración y Política Pública en la Universidad Virtual del Estado de Guanajuato.
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Escrito por

Javier

Nací en la Ciudad de México. He vivido la mayor parte de mi vida en la CDMX y el Estado de México.
Estudié Ingeniería Industrial y de Sistemas, y una Maestría en Administración de Empresas, ambas en el Tec de Monterrey.
Y posteriormente he tenido la oportunidad de estudiar una Maestría en Administración y Política Pública en la Universidad Virtual del Estado de Guanajuato.