Can Twitter Pull It Together?

twitterstare-headerDespite adding users, earnings are still below predictions and the Street is showing its displeasure.

It’s adding users, staying relevant to existing fans and continues to be culturally relevant. So why can’t Twitter make a go of it on the financial end of things?

As Casey Newton reports in The Verge, “nothing Twitter has done to improve the appeal of its core product over the last year has resonated.”

The social media company replaced its CEO (and then saw a flock of execs fly the coop); launched a curated highlight feed; advertised on TV; and integrated Periscope live videos in the timeline, Newton notes.

“Individually, most of the changes Twitter has made to its core product have been welcome, if overdue. The company has not alienated the service’s core users in large numbers — no small feat. And Twitter still feels as culturally relevant as ever. But collectively, changes to the product have failed to broaden the appeal of the core service, even as its rivals continue to grow,” he writes.

That failure, Newton writes, is the reason that advertisers have withheld investing in the platform, leading to lower earnings and recent stock losses.

Some point to Facebook as their biggest challenge. To be sure, Mark’s team is aggressively going after not only their live video leadership spot but many of Twitter’s key staffers, Newton explains.

Further evidence of the brand’s confusion is their reclassification in the Apple App Store under News rather than Social Networking, as reported by Jordan Valinsky in Digiday.

“The move shifts it away from its competitors like Facebook, Snapchat and Kik. The switch boosted the app from sixth place in Social Networking to first place within News, according to App Annie,” Valinsky writes.

But what does it mean, beyond being a quick way to boost the brand’s exposure?

“Shifting the category might juice its slowly growing user base,” Valinksy posits. Yet the numbers show the widening gap between Twitter and Facebook. At 310 million active monthly users to Facebook’s 1.65 billion, there really is no comparison between the two at this point.

They aren’t Facebook, they aren’t going to be Facebook, and they really ought to stop trying.

Maybe the reclassification makes more sense in that light; if they can capture a spot as a serious news source – and given the number of news stories recently that cite tweets this could be a real possibility – they might be able to remake themselves. What remains to be seen is if they can wrap a decent business model around that idea.