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Things Twitter needs to get right

Posted on: August 21, 2015

If you listen to Wall Street, Twitter is in trouble because it is not getting the subscribers it needs every quarter.

It seems that the more Twitter tries to engage and retain new users, the more it drives away some old ones. When Twitter was simpler, users valued its simplicity (140 character limit), found workarounds (linking to other platforms to piggyback longer content), and invented the #hashtag (to focus on chat by topic).

But both Twitter and its users have co-evolved. Now people are weighing in on Twitter’s efforts to get people to sign up, stay, and remain active. Here are my thoughts on the latter two.

First, the Twitter interface needs to be more like TweetDeck with multiple columns for different hashtags or tweeps. This might be suitable for a more experienced or power user, but an option to toggle it on and off would be nice.

Second, Twitter needs to incorporate scheduled tweets. There is a whole slew of tools and apps that do this because the native Twitter app does not. A tweet scheduler does not only help a marketer, it also helps educators who share across time zones.

Twitter acquired TweetDeck, but I do not know why the superior interface and by-the-minute scheduling of TweetDeck is not an option or even the default on Twitter.

Third, I wish Twitter could synchronize sessions between devices. For example, I might view my timeline in my iPhone and pick up where I left off on my iPad or Mac.

This would almost be like opening up tabs in Chrome or Safari in one device and resuming the reading on another. Or more like the cross-device “resume watching exactly where you left off” feature on Netflix.

Fourth, I would like to see the native iPhone and iPad app versions function the same way. Though on a smaller screen, the iPhone app is superior because it handles Quote Tweets as intended; the iPad version does not.

What a Quoted Tweet looks like on the iPhone.

What the same Quoted Tweet looks like on the same version of Twitter on an iPad.

The iPhone app also has a dedicated option to view Direct Messages (DMs). On the iPad, you have to tap on your profile and then on the envelope icon before you see your DMs.

The small things matter because they combine and become a big thing. They affect user experience. That Twitter chooses to ignore loyal users or offer no explanation for not changing is insulting. And that is a very big thing.

What I have listed and described so far are features that affect user experiences. All these WHAT features are nothing if users do not see WHY they should use Twitter and HOW to make it meaningful.

Like other educators around the world, Twitter is an informal but constant source of ideas and professional development for me. Occasionally I get to share how teachers might create their own personal learning networks (PLNs) with Twitter. Some teachers and educators here have also discovered the power of PLNs on their own.

If only TwitterSG would work with people like me to reach out to the 33,000 teachers and almost 2,000 allied educators in Singapore’s mainstream schools. Even if we got just 10% of those teachers to be passionate about unlearning and relearning, Twitter would have done right by the teaching fraternity.

Twitter can make changes to its product in order to improve basic processes like quote tweeting and private messaging. But if it does not also focus on higher level and social processes like creating one’s own learning opportunities, Twitter loses an opportunity to connect with an important group of users.

1 Response to "Things Twitter needs to get right"

KH Yeo: RT @ashley: Part 1 of 3 of Twitter-related reflections: What Twitter needs to get right #edsg via


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