Those who use it tend to love it. They laud its real-time connectivity, its digital soap box nature, and its openness. Late adopters (and non-adopters) however are less convinced. Besides being able to follow the going-ons of your favorite celebrity, what’s the point, they wonder. It’s like whispering into the throngs of a large crowd: nobody can hear you and even less people care. But those are the detractors speaking. Suffice to say, there are plenty of advocates too.
For 53 million Americans, Twitter is a relevant, engaging, and interesting medium with which to share and consume information. And it is this user base that will spurn the platform’s continued usage and growth. Having recently gone public, the company now has a mission to produce annual profits. And this will require change, even if those changes are at first slight. But what will these changes mean for the average user? Well, in the upcoming year, new and old users alike should expect more of, well, everything!
Twitter is now a publicly traded company valued at $35 billion. This means that the company’s first priority is no longer redefining the standards by which individuals communicate online. The company’s first priority now is to produce revenue. More revenue than there are expenses, in fact. And to do that, Twitter will be required to adopt the same tactics that are currently employed by such companies as Facebook, Google, and Tumblr: advertising.
Users of Twitter can expect a much broader implementation of advertising on the social network over the course of 2014. No longer will a company’s message be limited to those individuals who follow it; with paid advertising, the audience is limitless. There can be little doubt that advertising will become more prevalent and conspicuous over the course of the next year. Unfortunately for the first-adopters, the days of the “free” user experience are over.
Facebook’s own research indicates that posts that include or incorporate images in some fashion show much higher rates of user engagement than those that don’t. It should come as no surprise that this is true for Twitter as well. Going forward, images will take center stage, as Twitter will be forced to:
- Recognize the importance that images play in a person’s user experience; and
- Realize that to attract new “customers,” it’s going to have to model itself in some fashion on the current king of the social media world: Facebook.
As much as Twitter may pride itself on being different than Facebook, there can be no denying the popularity of the platform. And like Coca-Cola and Pepsi or Ford and General Motors before it, this rivalry will result in the companies becoming more like each other, not less.
Over the coming year, the way in which information is presented is likely to be streamlined and tweaked. News feeds have already begun to change to emphasize visual communication and promote conversations, and further changes will likely be made to continue down this path. One such change will be the move to make direct messaging more prominent. When one considers how Twitter has positioned itself within the marketplace, this change can be viewed as being quite drastic.
One of the core attributes of Twitter is that every message is public. While it’s true that some privacy settings exist, the nature of the platform is that it is a soap box – a place to spread one’s opinion. When someone Tweets, everyone sees it. But put simply, people do not always want their conversations to be public, and the direct messaging function provides for just the privacy that people are seeking. By making it more prominent, Twitter is in essence advocating a more private form of communication.
Pretty soon, everyone’s going to be Tweeting. If you think this isn’t the case, think again. Even if you hold fast and refuse to start a personal account, the odds are good that social media will become a part of your daily work responsibilities. More and more, employers are arming their employees with smartphones so that they can take part in the company’s online voice from anywhere – at any time. And social media is starting to show up in employers’ job listings too; even those listings that aren’t specifically for a social media manager. Perhaps one of the biggest trends for 2014 will be the nearly universal adoption of corporate Twitter accounts. And if you work for a corporation, that means you might be first in line to help manage the thing!
Author Bio: Jessica is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.