How Standalone Apps Can Develop Twitter’s Stagnant Consumer Base

Twitter has a progress drawback. Nicely, Twitter truly has a lot of issues — worker retention, profitability and lack of belief amongst diehard customers to call a number of — however consumer progress appears to be its most crucial space.

Our personal Josh Constine defined that Twitter burned bridges with potential new customers a very long time in the past as a result of it was, and largely nonetheless is, troublesome for them to shortly discover worth from the service, in contrast to virtually each different social community on the planet — most significantly Fb.

Now, Twitter is adopting a serious function from Fb: the choice to present some prime tweets in non-chronological order if you open its cellular app. But what it must be doing is taking one other leaf from Fb’s pocket book: Construct extra standalone apps to play to Twitter’s numerous strengths. 

Certainly, providing differentiated providers might increase Twitter’s attraction to those that don’t use it by fixing the “Why do I want Twitter?” query whereas additionally offering a differentiated expertise for many who have misplaced religion.

Twitter’s newest quarterly report confirmed flat consumer numbers — the identical 320 million lively customers that it had on the finish of 2015. When you disregard customers that accessed the service by way of SMS, and subsequently aren’t uncovered to advertisements, the Twitter consumer base truly declined from 307 million to 305 million during the last three months. Put merely, Twitter continues to be struggling to draw new customers.

Twitter’s largest power is its dexterity…. Twitter’s largest weak spot can also be its dexterity.

What doesn’t wrestle to draw new customers? Fb, Twitter’s largest rival. To broaden its attraction and engagement, notably on cellular units, Fb uncoupled a lot of its providers on cellular with, in some instances, nice success.

It launched Messenger as an non-compulsory standalone personal and group chat app in 2011. In 2014, Fb turned the screws by taking out Messenger performance from its core cellular app altogether and forcing individuals to obtain a separate app in the event that they needed to make use of Messenger on cellular. Messenger now has 800 million month-to-month customers. We’d additionally argue that splitting out a devoted app has helped Fb Teams attain 1 billion month-to-month customers on that service. Instagram was by no means built-in into Fb, and neither was WhatsApp.

Even Fb’s much less profitable tasks — Snapchat-like Slingshot and different now-defunct merchandise from its Artistic Labs unit — offered classes in how customers work together and what sort of providers attraction and don’t attraction.

Twitter, like Fb, has in fact stored a few of its key shopper app acquisitions (in Twitter’s case Vine and Periscope) as separate apps. However we expect it might and will spin out much more providers as a result of it, too, is a social platform and there are lots of totally different use instances for it.


Twitter’s largest power is its dexterity. Totally different individuals use it in several methods. Twitter’s largest weak spot can also be its dexterity. An ambiguous use case confuses potential new customers who need to know precisely why they should obtain a brand new app. That’s precisely the place standalone apps, clear of their function, might leverage the strengths of Twitter’s platform and widen its attraction past these 320 million those that get the service in its present type.

Messaging might be the obvious space the place Twitter might spin out a standalone app, and there are some indicators that time to this as a pure subsequent step. A DM app has been rumored earlier than, and there have been apps created by third events which have explored the thought, too.

Within the meantime, there’s some momentum round DMs at Twitter. The corporate has grown the performance of DMs by increasing past one hundred forty characters and letting individuals ship greater than plain textual content. And final week, Twitter famous that DMs in This fall are up by sixty one % over a yr in the past.

Although messaging has grow to be a saturated area the place a number of gamers dominate, a Twitter DM app might differentiate itself sufficient from WhatsApp through the use of a username-based mostly ID system and never telephone numbers, in addition to from Messenger, so individuals might ship messages with out the luggage of Fb.

A brand new messaging app looks like a no brainer, because it speaks to the guts of Twitter’s DNA as a lean-ahead creation software. However what concerning the lurkers?

There’s a utterly totally different path that Twitter might go together with standalone apps that might assist the corporate higher disguise a number of the burden of tweeting, higher aiming it at those that don’t need to use it that means with out annoying those that like to tweet by compromising these options.

Superstar monologues and superstar beef, like Kanye West’s current change with Wiz Khalifa; sports activities and information updates; and different info that doesn’t require a response from customers all movement via Twitter. These may be developed into standalone Twitter apps.

Twitter might have in all probability have created a micro-app ecosystem years in the past.

A Gossip app that’s primarily nothing extra fancy than a Twitter record of celebrities constructed out right into a media information service; or a breaking information app on your favourite sports activities staff are providers that, if packaged in the suitable means, might attraction to a wider group of individuals past those that are Twitter’s core consumer base in the present day.

Throw within the alternative so as to add opinions and voice concepts — primarily tweet by way of a unique medium — and such apps might appeal to new Twitter customers, to not point out additionally supply advertisers totally different sorts of alternatives to market themselves.

This media play has been tried to a point with Twitter’s Moments function, nevertheless it’s not a good comparability. Moments feels half-baked and, because it exists solely inside Twitter’s app — as a tab, no much less — it doesn’t appear to be the sort of function that may ever have the ability to lure hundreds of thousands extra customers.

The query is, will Twitter ever do any of this? Does it need to? Paradoxically, one option to check the market might have been to encourage extra third-social gathering builders to create providers like these.

Twitter might have in all probability created a micro-app ecosystem years in the past if it had given the required instruments to the developer group, somewhat than shutting builders out. Today there are few third-celebration Twitter apps of notice, Tweetbot being probably the most seen instance.

No matter how Twitter does it, one reality stays: There’s an more and more pressing case for the corporate to broaden its efforts as a platform if it needs to really develop right into a media firm past its state at this time as a considerably stalled social community.