Since then, Twitter has mainly become a source for celebrity news gossip, and an app that lets politicans, celebrities and news media personalities take positions in political and social issues, whilst the majority of their time spent has migrated to other apps like Instagram, in which they use a kind of publicity and marketing tool.
However, there are advantages to Twitter that other apps, like Facebook or Instagram don't have, it's a place where one could be completely anonymous, or at least have the illusion of being anonymous. The problem for Twitter has been declining growth, spam accounts, its revenue model and monetisation policy.
One of the things I think are key are about Twitter is that often, people can attain first-person accounts of news, events and insights before the major forces in the media reports on them, similar to South Korea's Ohmynews! where citizens take it upon themselves to upload videos or film news segments from their mobile devices. Twitter was the first site where I had access to what happened during Hurricane Sandy from the photo documentation by a person who was in the area as it was happening, and it was a more authentic coverage of the event than any other news agency at the time.
I also don't follow any celebrities on Twitter, however, I follow other "anonymous" people who work on Wall Street, in finance, venture capital and trading houses. Wall Street has always had sort of a bad rep, especially in all the major media outlets, and it was heightened after the global Occupy Wall Street movements. However, what most people weren't aware is that many people who worked on Wall Street or in the financial markets were often critical of their own organisations, and Twitter gave them a voice to do so under anonymous accounts.
It's not that these men and women who worked for financial institutions were all evil and debasing the population with their risky derivative products; they often felt powerless, trapped within a system of corruption, and unable to speak out for fear of retribution, losing their jobs or becoming blacklisted. After spending half a year engaged in stock analysis on Twitter, I was able to follow all the key people who often gave intriguing insights into their own industries. There were many alternative news publications that I began to follow as well, such as zerohedge, whose editors kept a low profile and whose identities were secret before it was unfortunately revealed in the major media outlets who they were last year.
What I liked about Twitter that I couldn't do on Facebook and Linkedin, was that it gave me candid perceptions into the psychology of people who weren't speaking from their public voicebox, but what they were really thinking. I made some friends as well, people I would've never met from the circles of friends I had on Facebook or even on Linkedin, and became friends with a writer and mentor who published many books on financial institutions and even sent another fellow anon a gift for her funny insights.
If we examine social media today, they are pretty much all turning into each other. Since Linkedin's recent design change and UI, it is fairly indistinguishable from Facebook. Facebook has now entered the news arena, and has the power to influence people's opinions through its curation of the news, despite its criticism of fakenews to alter election results.
Through these polymorphisms of social media, Twitter however, has not changed. It is essentially the same as it was when it launched in 2006, and there is something nostalgic about that, but I also think that it could add some features as well to supplement its monetisation policy.
One thing for investors is that like many other social media, Twitter has a problem with spam, fake accounts, and identity verifications. Its best feature - anonymity - is also its worst feature. Whereas Facebook, Linkedin and Airbnb use authentic personalities and identities, Twitter does not. This has been an disadvantage to investors. I see several features that could authenticate people's personalities whilst still giving them an anonymous platform to speak from.
TwitterPro. Twitter already has a twitter for business site, but aside from ads and analytics which Hootsuite does better and the latter which also integrates all social media accounts onto one platform, TwitterPro could be a business account for companies that engage in customer service. To a degree, many companies already use Twitter to interact with their customers. Twitter could make this a paid subscription service so that business owners and companies can easily interact with their customers and give instant rebates, coupons, refunds etc. to customers who interact with them on Twitter. For restaurants, beauty salons and cafés that use TwitterPro, users could also make reservations and purchase pre-paid discounted meals and services only available through Twitter. Again, these services can be facilitated via TwitterPay.
TwitterWishList. Twitter has recently created a wishlist hashtag for Amazon users and vice versa. However, this could be taken one step further. TwitterWishList could be a comprehensive wishlist feature that would allow users to voluntarily insert details about their real name and location without giving up "anonymity". Users can integrate many wishlists from other eCommerce sites, or even find products they like online, and link the direct page to add to their TWL page in their profile. These details will only be available to the specific user, to Twitter, and to the retailers involved. To keep anonymity, Twitter will either have to have an agreement with all the retailers not to release the name and location of the recipients who receive their gifts from the WishList by another Twitter user even of that user was the sender or this can also be automatically achieved if the funds received through TwitterPay is held in an escrow account, and the gift is technically sent to the recipient through Twitter and not the Twitter user, although it would be attributed to the latter. In this way, users are able to utilise all the features of eCommerce companies, whilst retaining their anonymity and private details from other users.
I remember in 2009, when the pandemonium in Iran had begun and I was watching YouTube, and a woman was narrating in Persian (and someone else had bothered to upload the video with English subtitles) from the rooftop of her building, watching from the window as chaos was ensuing below. And I thought to myself, it would've been so nice to send her a care package from America; to let her know that the politics of war and instability we had instilled in the Middle East were not representative of all the American people. I didn't speak her language and obviously, there was probably no chance we would ever meet, but what she said had a profound effect on me. At the time, there was no way to cross those boundaries of language and national divides, but I think Twitter could become the app to build that bridge, between nations, between different industries, and between people of different social circles who would otherwise, never have a chance to connect.
By Sierra Choi