Sometime last week Twitter announced they were laying off some of their staff. You can read all about it and the letter that Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey sent out to staff at this thenextweb post.
As a Twitter user and a shareholder there are a few things that worried me. The layoffs were said to be done in order to make Twitter more “Lean”, as “restructuring”, in order to “focus”. I’ve heard all these taglines before and it’s not usually a good thing. Twitter is a publicly traded company which means they have to walk a tight line when doing anything public. They can’t do anything to lower shareholder’s confidence or affect the stock negatively. As a company Twitter needs to be able to make money. I’m not going to worry about the people being laid off. They worked for Twitter, I’m sure they will be fine. What I hope is that this layoff will wake people, users, consumers up to reality.
People pay enormous sums of money for all sorts of things. However when it comes to apps, app subscriptions or advertising everyone loses their mind. We complain and launch tirades when a single ad hits our timeline. “How dare they invade our use of this free service” and this attitude needs to change. These companies need to make money or that Twitter timeline of ours will go away. It is the reality of how things work. Many people have said it in the industry and online before. Many users have no problem paying $5 a day or many times a day for a cup of coffee. However if Twitter were to ask users to pay that same $5 a month for the service! Well virtual pitchforks would be sharpened and there would be an online outcry. As I said before these companies need to make money. If we aren’t willing to pay for the service then they have to seek it via other avenues which most times is advertising. The old adage still rings true today as ever “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”.
I’m not going to let Twitter off the hook here either. I’ve been a Twitter user since April 2009. There are problems with the platform. If you want new and existing users on the platform the problems need to be fixed. Perhaps giving users a tool to submit feedback and make it widely known would be the first step. Give users the chance to talk about problems, give ideas on potential new features and make the platform grow. The next step would be to fix the existing problems and issues. The 140 character limit is one roadblock that needs to be removed. It might have been great back in the day when texting and messaging apps weren’t a dime a dozen. Now it’s just a restriction and a frustration. I get it, short messages enable a more efficient timeline. A timeline filled with 1,000 word tweets would not be fun for anyone. However maybe only display 140 characters of a 280 or 560 charcter limit and have a “…” button that enables users to choose to read more or move on. The tweet would expand and contract when the button is tapped. This enables the user writing to not be confined by the character limit. Another problem is engagement with users. My timeline moves way too fast and I only have a little over 1,000 people. I routinely go to some users I follow and see interesting tweets that I didn’t notice in my timeline. How about letting users select favorites from who they are following. Then you have a “Favorites” tab that shows only the tweets from the selected users. Just a few thoughts from one user, these are the kinds of suggestions available and from others much smarter than me too.
Perhaps this layoff is a wake up call to consumers/users. However I doubt that will be the case. Just think, if Twitter were to ask for $1 a month to use the network what would be your reaction? Now just take another minute to get over your initial rage and think of all the things you pay more than $1 for weekly. Is it really that unreasonable? I’m gonna just leave that thought right there for ya.