Weekend thoughts: why is $TWTR so darn bad?
A quick weekend thought as I’m at a wedding this weekend and working on a few other things.
The thought? Why is Twitter so damn bad?
Look, I get it takes time to turn a tech company around. Twitter had a lot of technical debt, and you don’t just solve that over night.
But they still can’t do even simple things right. Their DMs are a disaster; if I look at a DM on desktop instead of mobile, 75% of the time none of my DM history is there. And, of course, I still can’t search DMs.
Fake accounts are rampant, and the process for reporting them is way, way too cumbersome. This is not a new problem; I’m not sure how Twitter’s had this long running fake account problem and still hasn’t solved it. Like, how hard is it to put some code in that says “if an account changes their profile picture and handle to almost perfectly match an existing account, then instantly starts retweeting all of their tweets and DM’ing all of the other accounts followers, that account gets reviewed”? IDK, I get that’s cumbersome, but there has to be a better way than the current format (which involves the real Twitter profile owner reporting the fake account and uploading a photo of their driver’s license every time they want to report).
The ad product has improved a bit but it’s still awful; the worst is the video product where I’ll get a sponsored video that has an ad in front of the video play. Not sure how that makes any sense.
None of those complaints are new. So here is a new one: consider super follows. Twitter rolled that out last year, and I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground to say it’s been a disappointment…. but maybe part of the issue is the whole product is just impossible to use?
Let me give an anecdote to highlight this: I tried to break myself off Twitter a little last year, but to start the year I’ve been on it a little more and I wanted to super follow my buddy Bill Brewster for a bunch of reasons (just to list a few: to support him, to try out super follows, and to get a little cool “super follow” tag on my replies to him like the one below).
So I went on over to his twitter to try to super follow him. Here’s a screenshot of his account page when I went to view it
Here’s a screenshot with the little “…” page opened:
Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t see anything to super follow Bill. It seems like Twitter should be hitting people over the head with the super follow option.
I get that this is just one example, and super follows don’t seem to have lost a lot of priority for Twitter since they launched. But they launched the feature less than six months ago; how the heck are they deprioritizing and hiding it this quickly?
Anyway, I don’t have a dog in this race currently. I think Twitter is an unbelievable platform, and every time I think about the connections I’ve made through it, how powerful it’s been for me growing my mini “empire”, and how outsized an impact it has on the world, I can’t believe that Twitter is only a ~$30B EV company. It’s one of the few companies with an honest shot of being a trillion dollar company (IMO).
But then I see how they can’t do basic things like DMs, or how even their high profile product launches get no support within months of launching, and I think “O yeah, it’s the clown car that fell into a gold mine; they’re just never going to figure it out.”
PS- I wrote all this having only looked at Twitter / Bill’s profile on desktop, and after writing it I figured “hey, maybe mobile is different.” And it is; super follow is right at the top of a profile when you go on mobile (and I’m proud to say I’m a Brewster super follower now; see screen shot below). But that just raises more questions; why can’t they get a desktop super follow together. Desktop super followers would actually be more profitable as they’d dodge the apple tax, and it just seems weird that you wouldn’t make it as easy as possible for people to super follow if they wanted to. Bad for twitter as a business, bad for potential followers, bad for content creators. Again, a clown car.