Reports of Twitter’s imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated—but what if they’re not?
PR pros might celebrate when Twitter gives up the ghost or falls into disuse. To many brand managers, Twitter is a loose firehose that can turn a promotional campaign into crisis management.
One reason there’s a fear that Twitter might die on the vine is that it’s not pulling its weight in revenue. Every other platform handles advertising better than Twitter. Anytime Twitter pushes new revenue channels, the Twitterverse pushes back and the Twitter overlords fold and retreat. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, reddit, YouTube and even Snapchat have integrated ads so thoroughly and shamelessly for so long that there’s no fight left in their users.
The same kind of high-profile publicity—and controversy—that once found its home on Twitter now finds itself on YouTube and Twitch. Over the last couple of years, even mainstream news channels have been using Instagram as a source for soft news, not just TMZ.
There’s a limitation to Instagram and the others, though, because Twitter is the only by-default public sharing platform quick enough to feed the real-time web. Private and encrypted chat programs might be fueling intelligence, but open-source intelligence—the kind that drives PR and crisis communications—demands public and persistent social media sharing.
Instagram can be open and public, but there are far more protected Instagram profiles than there are Twitter profiles. Facebook is a walled garden, requiring extra effort to make each profile public, though it does have excellent brand pages. Although so many platforms cross-publish and cross-share their Instagram and Facebook content in real time with Twitter, it rarely goes the other way.
Though losing the open-source intelligence firehose would be a pity, there will be adaptations. YouTube remains the least understood and least appreciated online community ever; it’s also the second-most-used search engine, just after Google Search.
Twitter is more alive and vibrant than ever. It’s as essential to real-time communication as amateur radio, broadcast radio and television, the cellular spectrum, water, sewage, electricity and the internet, but it’s no longer essential to public relations, marketing or advertising.