Great plan, Twitter: ‘Let’s resurrect an old outdated app and make people pay for it’

This is not going to work. TweetDeck is kind of dead.

TweetDeck logout
Jim Norris

TweetDeck was one of the greats.

Back in 2010 and 2011, I used the app as a dashboard for monitoring tweets. It was useful because it showed panels for each person, and I could run it easily in a tab. At one time, it also connected to services like LinkedIn and Facebook. Even back then, I used another app called Sprout Social to manage my social media, and eventually TweetDeck fell off my radar.

Now, there’s news that Twitter -- which acquired the company back in 2011 -- has plans to revive the app and even offer a paid version for advanced users.

It’s an odd move. For starters, TweetDeck had dropped the LinkedIn and Facebook support a while ago, then discontinued the iOS and Android apps. It is mostly a dashboard for tweets now. Reports about the advanced features -- mostly in a series of tweets by Andrew Tavani -- suggest it will be mostly a direct copy of Sprout Social and HootSuite with features like post scheduling, reporting, multi-user accounts, sorting and filtering, and a few other features.

Twitter needs to go much further. This is mostly an attempt to resolve a crisis. Revenue is stalling out, and everyday users are starting to lose interest.

Working with a group of volunteers at a local college, I keep asking about who has a Twitter account and most of the Millennials in the group say they don’t bother anymore, although many say they still follow celebrities.

How do you create relevancy? It’s definitely not by resurrecting an old and outdated app, adding new features (and making it ad-free), and trying to get people to pay for it. This would be like Ford trying to bring back the Bronco and trying to make it relevant to new drivers. (Oops, they are doing that.) Or maybe Google pretending that a location-sharing feature in Google Maps is new. More than anything, resurrecting TweetDeck from the dead and making new mobile apps for it seems like a desperation move.

There must be a better way to help drive revenue.

It won’t be through apps. For starters, there are already well-established powerhouses like SocialFlow that own the market. These companies have a massive user base and offer spectacular services for data mining that Twitter would not be able to touch.

Sadly, it’s looking more and more like Twitter itself came up with a 140-character status update concept which became more of a standard (like Wi-Fi or DSRC for cars) as a service, but can’t figure out a way to do anything new or novel. They changed the world! Then, lost relevancy.

Social media is one of those strange beasts -- it is constantly evolving, constantly pivoting. One day it seems like there is some great usefulness, another day it's the bastion of celebrities and politicians, the next it becomes a haven for trolls. It is now part of modern society, but Twitter is more like the gas company than a startup.

What can save Twitter? For starters, they need to get out of the app business. Let everyone else innovate in that arena. Focus on micro-publishing, make some progress turning Twitter into the engine that powers the smart home, expand into other areas of publishing. Twitter should be a communication giant by now. There should be more Twitter bots -- made by Twitter, of course -- and a publishing platform driven by tweets but mostly more like Medium.com. They should won integration into cars. We should see Twitter as a publishing giant right now and not just an inventor of tweets.

And old app? It won’t change that perception. If anything, it reinforces it.

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