The news that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo would step down from the social media platform on July 1 set the tongues of tech pundits wagging from Manhattan to Palo Alto, with everyone offering an opinion on how the company can position itself for growth after a disappointing April earnings call. Should the company reinvent itself to attract new users, as venture capitalist Chris Sacca suggested in an 8,000-word blog post? Should it focus more on photos and videos? Is it ripe for acquisition, perhaps by Google? How can a platform that has become the world’s most effective real-time news engine and global town square position itself for growth?
In the short term, the most critical task on the plate of incoming CEO Jack Dorsey is to shore up the company’s direct response advertising business. The second critical task is for Twitter to better engage, or reengage, those millions of light users who have tried the platform and found it obtuse, confounding, and difficult to use. Unlike, say, Facebook, which is designed to make the experience of using it as effortless as possible, Twitter requires work to extract value: users must curate their feeds, build lists, and continually search hashtags. Twitter can be an intimidating experience to all but its most dedicated users.
For his part, Chris Sacca has some bold, if intuitive, suggestions for the future of Twitter. Here’s one money quote from his post:
“Hundreds of millions of new users will join and stay active on Twitter, hundreds of millions of inactive users will return to Twitter, and hundreds of millions more will use Twitter from the outside if Twitter can make Tweets effortless to enjoy, make it easier for all to participate, and make each of us on Twitter feel heard and valuable.”
Curious as to what it might take to reengage with reluctant Twitter users?
We looked at the data to compare the values and motivations of heavy Twitter users with light, semi-active users. Are there notable differences in values between the two groups?
When we examined the data, two clear distinctions became readily apparent. On the values index, when we compare heavy Twitter users to light users, we see that heavy users over-index on values that reinforce their sense of self: self-image, sense of accomplishment, and pride. Meanwhile, heavy users under-index on values that promote life stability: family care and financial security. In other words, heavy users are intrinsically motivated, while light users are motivated by extrinsic forces.
On product attributes that drive purchase, we see another interesting dichotomy between heavy and light users. Heavy users favor purchase drivers that describe Twitter to a “T”—they like products that are popular, unique, and innovative. Light users, on the other hand, like products that are dependable, practical, and cost effective.
When it comes to reengaging light and inactive Twitter users, therefore, Chris Sacca’s suggestions for the company appear on the money. He suggests building landing pages for live events to draw the audience together, curated channels to help focus user attention, and separate tabs organized by topic—all the sorts of dependable, community-oriented products that light Twitter users crave. Twitter has already captured the attention of its power users; now it’s time for the company to build a platform for the rest of us.
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