Is Twitter, the one time social media darling, now a cancer?
Twitter once was a beacon of social media's power. In very little time, businesses, celebrities, politicians and governments soon learned of its ability to influence. With its transactional communication model, its bi-direction voice became a means to both positively and negatively (in quite a few instances) impact customers, leads and potential business partner opinions.
It was amazing how the ability to create concise near real-time conversations in a one to many, many to one became such an exceptional tool. But it wasn't until the post left a brand's control via retweets (starting the many-to-many model) where the true value began to be seen. Larger audiences were attracted and more positive campaign movement (lower CPA, higher ROI) could begin to be seen as it drew larger audiences with its more personal touch. As a result, it began to used in ways that opened the ability to shape brand opinion and even create political movements. Likewise, a large enough unified audience reaction also could shape the actions of companies, governments, celebrities and politicians.
Twitter has followed a democratic principle in just about every possible way. It provided a powerful voice to all, with reach potential not seen in any other social platform. It's As result it became a darling to just about everyone. Even Google's algorithm has been constructed to value posts with links a nice SEO boost.
But...then came the bots.
First let's start with what is a bot. A bot is a program that's tied to a social media account and used to act as if it were a person. It's good enough to fool many people into thinking it's a person. With that in mind, approximately 15% of Twitter's active users are believed to be bots. To put that into perspective, let's say if a group of 500 people are discussing a topic, 75 +1 people in this group have a unified voice. That's likely to shape the opinion of quite a few of the remaining 424 people that may be varied amongst the group. So why is this important? That's 48 million bots and that's a lot of influence from 1 person, or 1 business, or one government that controls thousands or millions of them.
So where am I going with this? Twitter has become bot weaponized. The bots have been successful in doing what Twitter can do best - shape opinion. Twitter, as now a 2nd tier social platform has incentive to keep this going. It makes it seem like a more valuable platform from afar and its actions (of not doing anything substantial to curb the negative behavior) fakes its position as a top tier social network. Plus, when news outlets like CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC report enthusiastically on brand campaigns and social/political topics without any insight (or care) as to what really caused the movement momentum, real people become part of it, essentially making it real.
What does this mean?
Once the reporting on the bots begins - and it's starting, the power of its movements will be questioned and diminish. Soon people will see Twitter in the same way as the boy who cried wolf. Its movements won't move. Twitter will need to address this fast. But I don't think they will. I've believed for a long time there is no desire or ability to innovation at the company and I'm not alone. Twitter will die, it's just a matter of how long the bandages will hold.