Every so often, a budding author will pose the burning question: is Twitter dying? The trouble is, the familiar debate usually sparks from the latest figures on usage, citing worrying decreases in the number of registered users, tweets and ad buys. But just how much do these metrics contribute to the future of Twitter? Additionally, what’s to be made of the swirling rumours surrounding a potential buyout from Google? Could the Mountain View team finally take Twitter to the top? Or is the much-discussed bid nothing but a digital pipe dream?

Andrew Hutchison believes Google may be left with no other choice but to sweep in and snap up Twitter, particularly for the wealth of data they would gain access to by doing so:

“Google is feeling the heat on social. They could ignore it, of course, they could stick to search and hone their periphery focus onto virtual reality, dog robots and driverless cars, but turning a blind eye and letting Facebook systematically take over the internet is not in their best interests, long term. Google need to remain competitive in order to maintain market positioning, dropping out of the social race could be the fatal flaw that comes back to haunt them.

“Google should now look to Twitter to fill it’s need for a social element, something they’ve been unable to successfully build. Why not just buy a successful social ecosystem, fending off rising competition for audience attention from Facebook whilst also giving Twitter the freedom build their service without having to run the risk of turning their audience away via constant tweaks designed to get more users on board quickly?

“Integrating Twitter data more comprehensively into the Google search experience also seems like a win-win. Tweets get more exposure, while Google gets more real-time, conversational data to use in its ranking algorithm, helping it compete with Facebook’s potential search offerings. How much content could be built into Google’s search algorithms under the current Twitter/Google deal is unknown, but they’d securely be able to rely on that data-source if they were to own it.”

The Next Web’s Mic Wright also believes Google could help Twitter get its feet back on solid ground:

“Being a Google company would give Twitter the stability it needs, plus access to enough capital for it to stop worrying endlessly about tweaking the formula to juice user numbers and quieten Wall Street whinging.

“On the product side, Twitter knows deep down what it needs to do, but is struggling most because of the urgent demand from shareholders for revenues to rise. Google also knows ads and how to inject them into a user experience in ways that don’t cause too much upset.”

Twitter is throwing its weight behind a new landing page for registered and unregistered users, offering them an at-a-glance snapshot of the topics making ripples on the network’s surface.

Will this new visual landing page reverse Twitter’s dwindling fortunes and encourage swift user sign-ups?

What if Twitter were to stop pandering to the competition and put its users back at the helm of the social UX?

The Next Web’s Mic Wright added:

“The natural comparison (to Twitter) is Facebook, which has far larger user numbers and still reports admirable growth. Twitter looks like a niche proposition next to it.

“If you get obsessed with that dichotomy, the idea that Twitter must be more like Facebook feels inescapable. But that proposition and the notion that ‘normal people’ can’t and won’t get the service is wrong.

“The pressure to push user numbers up is understandable. Twitter is a public company and the markets are gnashing their jaws demanding more growth at all costs. But making Twitter into Facebook isn’t the answer, nor is attempting to pander to some imagined notion of an ‘ordinary person’.”

Twitter hopes a Chief Marketing Officer will be the catalyst it desperately needs to build user growth, but the chosen marketer will likely need to move away from the network’s focus on products over brands if it is to rediscover its core purpose in the social sphere.

The Drum’s Seb Joseph suggests:

“Twitter’s first CMO will need to understand how to engage Twitter’s three distinct audience groups of inactive users, new users and active users so that any user experience changes chime with customer experience engagement. Customer experience is paramount to any marketing strategy. It’s the way the service is used and that experience is fundamentally more robust than any fabricated piece of advertising creative.”

Last night, Twitter released a 122-page customer service handbook targeted at brands with little social experience looking to make it big on the network. The handbook includes best practices and insight and suggestions from some of the biggest companies on the market, including Hilton, Microsoft and Spotify. 

Twitter also announced that it is partnering with Sprout Social and Oracle to use Twitter data to improve enterprise customer service tools.

Twitter hopes the guide will “help businesses improve their customer service efficiency by taking advantage of the quick and personal nature of the medium.

It would appear that Twitter CAN make money from its users. However, the network’s real problem is the overwhelming sense of lost momentum from those actively engaged with the service. This user disappointment has been interpreted by the market as a questionable business model lacking a credible long-term plan. Twitter has a long, long way to go before turning the tide, but it could do it – with serious help from outside influence.

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