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Town Squares Add Relevance & may Bring Back Billion Users that Have Tried Twitter

6/20/2017 Anant Goel & Alan Kyle Goel

In the summer of 2013, Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, reflected on his vision of the company as a “global town square.” "We think of [Twitter] as the 'global town square," Costolo said. The social network is “all public, real-time conversational, and widely distributed, and public is the first word in there,” he told an audience at the Brookings Institution.

It was a bold vision of Twitter, which at the time was just seven years old, as the preeminent resource for accessing opinion across countries and cultures. And yet two years later in 2015, Costolo resigned as CEO and Twitter is sputtering. In a recent earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that the growth of Twitter’s active-user base had slowed to an “unacceptable” rate.

The social network once aspired to be a “global town square.” Is that goal still attainable?

Looking at the fundamental issues associated with “global town square” strategy, the short answer is NO. Twitter will not be successful as a “global town square” as it has become quite apparent in the last 5 years. However, not all is lost and Twitter can be very successful as a collage of “local town squares” for 7 billion people in 2 million towns/cities of the world.

First, let's we see what the issues are with Twitter’s “global town square” strategy:

  • Level of Engagement of Twitter Users─ Lack of Relevance

A close look at the data that company has made public suggests that if Twitter is indeed a global town square, it’s one that most of the town hasn’t entered yet—and one where the townsfolk who have entered seem to be doing more listening than talking these days. This lack of participation has broader consequences [like stagnating growth in daily tweets and MAUs) for the promise of social media as a platform for hearing from and engaging with the world in unprecedented ways. Twitter’s growth, as measured by total tweets, has stalled at 500 million daily Tweets.

  • Level of Global Audience─ Lack of Relevance & Massive Firehose of Tweets

    Recently, Twitter has emphasized the size of its user community over daily tweet volume, announcing in April 2017 that it had reached 328 million “monthly active users,” up from 302 in the first quarter of 2015. However, Twitter’s definition of a monthly active user includes automated spam accounts and users who simply read content from the service through customized filters rather than publish to it. In 2013, Twitter itself noted that “you don’t need to tweet to be on Twitter. … 40% of our users worldwide simply use Twitter as curated news feed of updates that reflect their passions.” In other words, the conversation in Costolo’s proverbial “global town square” appears to not be as “multidirectional” as he suggested. Many of those assembled are just eavesdropping.

The timeline from Q1, 2010 to Q1, 2017 shows the total number of Twitter accounts per month that posted at least one tweet. As with the total volume of tweets, the number of unique users sending those tweets appears to have leveled off in Q1, 2015, remaining stagnant through Q1, 2017. This suggests that the 26 million additional users that Twitter has added in the past two years are largely firehosed listeners instead of contributors.

  • Level of Geographical Reach─ Lack of Location Based Relevance for Firehosed Tweets

Twitter has reported that as of June 2017, 79 percent of its active users were located outside the United States. But the company has not publicized further details of its geographic reach, or disclosed what percentage of non-U.S. users post tweets versus only read those of others.

Twitter has not divulged whether geotagged tweets are representative of the company’s geographic footprint. Still, the visualization suggests that rather than growing outwardly and spreading to new regions, Twitter is largely growing inwardly and intensifying its coverage of locations where it was already popular, including the United States, Indonesia, and Japan.

Twitter does seem to have expanded considerably in Latin America between 2012 to 2014, though the majority of the region outside major population centers remains unrepresented in geotagged tweets. Most of Africa and Central Asia is similarly blank, as is India, though the service appears to have gained some traction in northwestern India and northern Pakistan. Central and Eastern Europe have far fewer geotagged tweets than Western Europe does. And China—because of its ban on Twitter and domestic competitor, Weibo—is a void, save for a few scattered clusters. In the Middle East, Twitter is making the most inroads in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

  • Language Diversity of the World is an Issue

Even for those locations that are strongly represented through geotagged tweets, the “global town square” is less a single square than a collection of local squares. Language is one of the greatest barriers between these squares, with English forming a central linguistic hub on Twitter and Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi occupying a more peripheral position, according to a study of Twitter data from December 2011 to February 2012. Twitter is trying to surmount this language barrier through initiatives like the machine translation of tweets.

  • Twitter’s Leadership Blames the User Interface─ Lack of Relevance to 7 Billion People

Linguistic differences can’t fully explain Twitter’s stalled growth abroad. After all, Facebook, which also plays host to multiple languages, has five times as many monthly users as Twitter, and far greater penetration in countries like India and regions like Latin America and Central Europe. On the earnings call in July, Twitter’s leadership blamed the service’s user interface, noting that “we have not … made it easy for [people] to understand how to use Twitter” and that new initiatives to make the interface more user-friendly have “not yet had meaningful impact on growing our audience or participation.”

The issue is not the “user interface… it’s the sheer volume and diversity of fire-hosed tweets that lack relevance to 7 billion people on this planet.

  • The Way information is Shared on Twitter Platform─ Massive Noise, Openness Issues, Lack of Relevance

There is another possible explanation for Twitter’s MAU stagnation, and it has to do with the way information is shared on the platform. Twitter has been unique among major social networks in that the majority of tweets are publicly accessible. In contrast, Facebook, and other surging players in this space like Snapchat, utilize a model where much of the content posted to the platform is private, available only to a given user’s network of friends. People currently seem to be gravitating toward social networks that emphasize control over message distribution, with a bias toward circumscribed communication rather than broadcasting to the entire world. Gary Vaynerchuk, an early Twitter investor, described this challenge in real blunt terms, suggesting that Twitter’s global town square model could be its undoing. Twitter has “become a massive firehose,” he said, and if it doesn’t “stop showing you everything, Twitter will die.”

What’s the Answer…

The social network once aspired to be a “global town square.” Is that goal still attainable?

Looking at the fundamental issues associated with “global town square” strategy, the short answer is NO. Twitter will not be successful as a “global town square” as it has become quite apparent in the last 5 years.  However, not all is lost and Twitter can be very successful as a collage of “local town squares” for 7 billion people in 2 million towns/cities of the world… by using the best of breed technology solutions including Twitter’s location based real-time feeds with relevance.

Change in Strategy…

The following are core issues with Twitter’s “global town square” strategy:

  • There is no such thing as global town square in real life… and any effort to create a virtual one is not only a massive undertaking, it also is a huge paradigm shift for 7 billion people and the governments of 195 countries that are not too thrilled to accept openness and transparency that Twitter offers.
  • The World is a complicated place and global town square of 7 billion people will be a massive chaos, source of too much irrelevant noise [for majority of the populations] with hundreds of distractions by 500 million tweets created daily─ flying by and whistling in the air “catch me if you can”. 
  • The world is organized by countries, states/provinces, towns and cities. And there are handful of things that are important to us is life, in and around our towns and cities. That’s the world order and has worked for thousands of years. Why change it… embrace it, and create a collage of “local town squares” enriched by location based real-time Tweets [with relevance that matter to people in and around their town] for 7 billion people living in towns/cities of the world.

We have addressed these issues by creating location based relevance to real-time Tweets using LeRumba “local town squares for the world” strategy. The end result is the same─ but with added benefit of massive growth potential in Twitter MAUs, as we take a broader and deeper approach to “global town square” by creating collage of “local town squares” for 7 billion people in 2 million towns/cities of the world.

Take a look at work in progress…

This is what we set out to do…

  • Create Local Town Squares for 7 billion people in 2 million towns/cities of the world.
  • Use the concept of Local Town Squares as the strategy and add location based relevance to real time tweets, to Bring Back the One Billion Users that Have Tried Twitter.
  • Use Twitter widget and embed Twitter Timeline on Local Town Square pages for the towns/cities of the world… to feed location based real-time tweets with relevance─ for news, views, reviews, deals, discounts, alerts, jobs, Twitter searches and streaming videos.

And that is exactly what we have done atLeRumba Town Squares for the World

"LeRumba is Global Ecosystem of Local Town Squares from across the world for Community and Social Networking and One-click searches for what's important in life; a real time source of weather, news, events, deals, discounts, alerts and jobs in and around your town; an E-commerce hub to buy, sell, trade, and connect with town official, businesses and consumers; and a Platform for Local Listings, Promotions, Branding and Digital Marketing."

Twitter has thousands of brilliant employees playing in the sandbox, with expertise in creating & solving complex problems. However, for the investors of Twitter, you may need someone to think outside the box or have the passion needed to solve this elusive problem of MAU retention and growth. We’re sitting outside the sandbox looking-in, and as such, free to think outside the box, visualize, and innovate.

We have worked with some of the best minds in the industry, changing the world little bit at a time through cutting edge Technology, Applications, and Integrated Marketing excellence. I may be young, but that does not stop me from being multi-processing and a cross-functional Technologist and Integrated Marketer… with the ability to see and link the pieces of the big picture together across all functions to make a business grow and flourish.

How we see Twitter’s MAU problem…

Twitter is good at developing excellent social media tools for athletes, politicians, and celebrities... but not so effective in implementing those unique and powerful tools into business models that have relevance to or benefit the 7 billion consumer in their day to day life... to improve their health, wealth, or make their town/communities a better place for business and family.

Following celebrities, politicians, and sports figures gets kind of boring... and after the initial fascination, the whole idea becomes like a pair of old worn-out shoes that no one wants to be caught wearing. When you read articles like: "1 Billion users that have tried Twitter but did not stick around"... it says a lot about the issues of MAU growth facing business development team at Twitter.

Twitter is a social media superpower that has powerful tools for…

  • real time location based news, views, reviews, deals, discounts, alerts, and events;
  • real time location based networking, leads, and jobs;
  • real time location based politics, community issues, surveys, polls, alerts and general concerns; 
  • and real time location based moments, announcements, promotions, feedback, streaming videos, and private & open dialog.

Unfortunately, the Twitter business development team seems not being able to leverage that power of “location based real time” paradigm effectively for the benefit of 7 billion common people around the globe. We apologize for our lack of diplomacy… but, we see the potential and the opportunity to use this new location based real time paradigm [by adding relevance] to “develop a simple social media web application that could favorably impact the lives of billions of people around the globe." Especially in developing countries with limited resources… and others that control freedom of speech!!!

We are launching LeRumba Town Squares for the world, and we are using Twitter’s powerful tool for location based real time paradigm with relevance to:

  • Help small businesses bring the lost business back to Main Street,

  • Help town officials to build communities and make their Town a better place for businesses and families,

  • and for consumers to bring back the joy of shopping in the Malls and on Main Street and have fun doing so with their friends and family.  

LeRumba Town Squares for the world platform helps in building local communities globally. By using online tools that are built-in the LeRumba ecosystem; our clients’ can leverage their marketing campaigns in branding and customer acquisition. Our Town Ambassador Program engages the enthusiasm and tenacity of thousands from around the world in building true global communities that care, share, and empower each other in being the best we can in health, wealth and happiness.


In closing… 

Hiring a new CEO, more tools, more content, more this, or more that is not the answer. As long as Twitter stays working in the same vein of “global town square” and digs deeper, billions of Tweets will be created every day and fire-hosed in the consumer’s face. And most of them will fly by the users and end-up in this ocean of tweets that may be good for analytics… but serves no other purpose when stored in the archives at Library of the Congress.

One billion people have spoken...

Following celebrities, politicians, and sports figures gets old and boring. And fire-hosed tweets get overwhelming and lack relevance when they just fly-by and then disappear or get buried in an ocean of tweets. After the initial intrigue, it becomes tiresome and tweets get ignored as irrelevant. 

“One Billion users that have tried Twitter but did not stick around”... it says a lot about the noise, and dismal use of real time tweets [that just flew-by] and served no real purpose [other than making you a groupie]. These tweets did not help users or their friends or their community, in any way or form, with their daily lives.

Local Town Squares for the World can change all that by making location based real-time tweets relevant to 7 billion people living in 2 million towns/cities of the world.

With more than 328 million users worldwide, Twitter has been at the forefront of a revolution in how people communicate. The platform offers a voice to those who may have never before been able to share their thoughts with the wider world, beyond social, religious and national boundaries.

LeRumba Town Squares for the world can make Twitter's vision of Global Town Square a realty... one town at a time.

“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… because we show value of real-time tweeting, make Tweets effortless to enjoy, makes it easier for all town residents to participate, and make each of us on Twitter feel heard and valuable.”
[Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]

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