The last 12 months have been brutal for Twitter. Questions are being asked about the company’s growth and profit potential, Twitter shares have fallen by more than 60 percent in the past 12 months, removing $20 billion from the company’s valuation.

According to ComScore data, an average user in the United States spent less than 3 minutes a day using Twitter on mobile devices in the fourth quarter 2015 – Facebook saw 10 times that engagement.

chartoftheday_4609_mobile_user_engagement_with_social_media_n

Trending hashtags such as  #RIPTwitter fuel the fires of speculation.  Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and CEO charged with reviving Twitter has announced the end of the 140-character limit on tweets. A decision which was met with surprise by most pundits. Isn’t the 140 character message essentially what defines Twitter?

Things like promoted tweets have helped Twitter exist as a promotional platform for brands, but most direct advertisers, who drive Google’s and Facebook’s revenue, have not adopted twitter with the same enthusiasm. The marketing ROI case for Twitter is elusive, the average daily time spent on Twitter is less than half that of Facebook, and active monthly users are one fifth those of Facebook. Twitter has just not been able to position itself as a serious driver of performance advertising revenue.

Indeed Twitter’s mobile engagement has been declining steadily for the last two years. Twitter’s weak user engagement and lackluster user growth is not going unnoticed by analysts who are downgrading their forecasts.

More by good luck than good management Twitter has developed a symbiosis with celebrities who get fans to follow hashtags. But Twitter doesn’t exist in a vacuum –  Snapchat, Facebook M, and Instagram all offer attractive alternatives.

 

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