Twitter’s Tiny Step Forward

By: Sean Mott

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Twitter. The last time we ventured into the social media bird’s realm, it was the proverbial belle of the ball. Twitter seemed to be on the market and rumors abounded that Google, Salesforce, and even Disney wanted to scoop it up. Everyone speculated on what each company could accomplish with Twitter’s vast social resources. It was a great time for armchair predictions.

We weren’t immune to the Twitter sale bug. We imagined the possibilities of a Google-Twitter partnership. We saw a wide-open field of new opportunities for customers and companies. We were thrilled to see what would happen next.

What a difference a month can make. All those potential suitors vanished into the ether, leaving Twitter dancing with itself. Its future seems uncertain. It’s still a big brand, but the lack of interest in its possible sale has hurt its reputation.

We’re not here to lament the disintegrated Twitter sale. That topic has been analyzed and dissected to death over the last few weeks. Instead, we’d like to discuss a new Twitter feature that reveals a larger problem for the company.

Twitter has launched a new direct messaging service. Its goal is pretty simple: Provide a fast one-to-one connection between brands and users. Basically, it’s a bot that companies can employ to reply to customer queries. This tool can respond to a few predetermined questions or connect people with a help desk. So far, Pizza Hut and Evernote are offering this messaging service. Sounds pretty handy. Not a bad way to get rid of the accursed 1–800 ordeal. Unfortunately, it’s a little late to the party.

Earlier this year, Facebook launched a similar service. It lets companies develop chatbots on Facebook Messenger. Even Kik is offering a bot tool. Twitter is not reinventing the wheel with its new messenger feature; it’s playing catch-up.

Twitter has immense power. It possesses a vast swath of data and social media knowledge. It could do something quite different and exciting with its resources. But Twitter has failed to truly unlock its potential. Its lack of evolution has led to its current situation: Alone in the wilderness. Its messenger service is a neat feature but it’s a late-edition tool when they needed a game changer.