Is Twitter the New Blockbuster?

Lately I seem to have been finding about all the major happenings in the world on Twitter, so I was not surprised when one of today’s big stories was the first Tweet on my timeline. I was, however, surprised that I hadn’t heard of this story before – and that the news I was finding out on Twitter was actually about Twitter.

There is buzz that Twitter is doing away with its 140 character limit and replacing it with a larger one: 10,000 characters or approximately 1,111 words. When the news broke, the Twittersphere descended into fury. How could Twitter even consider changing such a fundamental part of their brand?!

The first thing many people failed to realize is that Twitter isn’t entirely getting rid of the 140 character limit. With the new changes, which could come in a few short months, users could post Tweets longer than 140 characters – but on timelines the Tweets would show up in a 140 character summary, meaning the old struggles of running out of characters and having to omit grammar (and subsequently cringing if you’re a grammar aficionado) is still very real.

The second thing many people failed to realize is that Twitter isn’t making this change for the fun of it. Despite its staggering popularity, Twitter is struggling to stay relevant against other social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. One reason for this is that Twitter is often used to share links which brings users to outside websites. There is by no means a lack of native content on Twitter (aside from countless parody accounts which repeat the same jokes and memes). This being said, outside linking was clearly enough of a threat that Twitter is responding by allowing users to post the things they would otherwise link to – blog posts, for example – directly on their site.

Yesterday for an assignment in business class, I read an article about the demise of Blockbuster. I always assumed that Blockbuster failed solely because of Netflix, but they actually almost merged with Netflix (back when Blockbuster was the more popular of the two companies). In it’s final years, Blockbuster went through several CEOs who lost sight of the purpose of the company; but they also failed to adapt to a changing environment and ignored the rise of the Internet and streaming services.

One of the questions I had to answer about the article asked about factors that could cause Netflix to meet the same fate as Blockbuster. Initially when I read the question, I was confused. Netflix and Blockbuster were in the same market, I thought, but that was about the only similarity between them. Netflix was a powerhouse in the industry.

Then I did some research, and I realized that Netflix has been struggling recently. There are a plethora of online streaming services offering lower prices – Netflix has had trouble raising their prices – and better selection, a common complaint about Netflix (especially in Canada when compared to the American selection). Blockbuster was once what Netflix is: seemingly unstoppable. And yet when Blockbuster refused to adapt, it failed spectacularly.

Such could be the story of Twitter. This new change could very well save them and allow them to compete better with other social media. But if the masses remain critical, and consumers fail to grasp the point of 10,000 characters on a platform that rose to success because it promised succinctness and brevity, Twitter could be in trouble. They’re already risking making a move that doesn’t fit with the very premise that made them successful.

When I first made a Facebook account a few years ago, I thought it was the only social media I’d ever need for my entire life. But then I downloaded Twitter. And Snapchat. And Instagram. And Pinterest. And Tumblr. And Google Plus. And the list goes on and on. As a teenager, I’m essentially right in the middle of the social media craze. Apps trend, become wildly successful, and then flatline almost as quickly as they rose to fame (remember Flappy bird?).

I’m positive that next year, I’ll be using at least one – if not more – social media platforms that I don’t use today, that maybe don’t even exist today. Twitter is competing with competition that hasn’t even been created yet. This could either be their downfall, or their saving grace. At this point, only time will tell.

19 thoughts on “Is Twitter the New Blockbuster?

  1. Wow, very interesting premise. I’ve actually wanted to write a discussion on a somewhat similar topic to this so if/when I write that, I’ll definitely refer back to this one! I, too, have downloaded more social media in the past 7 months than in 2 years. It’s the quickest and easiest way to find and promote information. I also wonder, if I didn’t have my blog, would I have all this social media? Simply put, I don’t think so. Almost all, with the exception of Snapchat, of my social media accounts are used to promote my blog. Even though that was the initial reason, I also find that it makes me way more interactive and now I connect with people all over the world. Social media is truly a blessing and a curse.

    1. I’d love to read yours if/when you write it! 🙂 That’s interesting that you use most of your social media for promoting your blog; I definitely use Twitter mostly for that, but I haven’t ventured into other platforms.

  2. It’s crazy how many apps and social media platforms out there.
    One of the issues with Twitter is that once it’s out there you can not edit. Now you can write more, then find the mistake followed by a delete…ha! There are going to be some frustrated people out there. Great article.

  3. Nice post! I’ve only just realized that I only use Twitter to further reach for my blog and nothing else lol too many recycled jokes as you said :D…its the closest we’ll ever get to a world’s full of Terminators as bots systematically rinse and repeat tweets while the owner’s are on a vacation in the woods 😛

  4. Really well written piece – so many things to consider about the way social media changes and how a company must adapt – or die. We watched Netflix grow – we used to get the CDs in the mail and send them back – so funny now to remember those days- but I wonder how it will play out for them – and for Twitter.

  5. Great argument – well-written and confidently presented post which is a joy to read. As someone who is sorely lagging behind in social media this news about Twitter was met by me with dismay. I am not yet on there but planned to subscribe merely to leave details of my permalinks to raise interest and encourage traffic to my blogs. If people have a choice about whether to read a full post in situ, or click away they will probably opt for staying put. 😦

  6. Excellent, timely post! I hadn’t heard of Twitter’s possible character limit change until stumbling upon your blog, but based on the reasons you mentioned, it sounds like a wise move on their part. It is certainly fascinating to see the ways in which different social media sites evolve over the years. There was a time when Twitter was just text, and that’s it! Then TwitPic came along, then videos, and now GIFs — all additions to keep up with Instagram, I’m sure.

    It’s definitely all fascinating food for thought, not just because continual willingness to change fuels sustainability, but also because these are tools we as bloggers and writers use on a daily basis.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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