Paraphrasing the journalist Caitlin Moran, the UK managing director of Twitter Bruce Daisley told the inaugural Tech for Britain conference today: “Social media has gone through growing pains, and it is heading towards being a teenager, and there are consequences of that.”
So what does a teenage Twitter look like? Well firstly it seems we have grown out of the “too much information” phase. The early days of tweeting every thought that popped into our heads have waned as our social media usage has fractured depending on what we are doing.
Stats from the Global Web Index shows “users are becoming less likely to post or share things related to their personal lives”. Users now turn to messaging apps (WhatsApp, basically) to share personal information like photos and what was formerly known as a “status update”.
“Twitter complements Snapchat”
Daisley said that: “Under-21s are four times more likely to use four or more social apps. We are reaching the stage where people have a clear understanding that they are using them in different ways. The implication is we might choose to do intimate social sharing in messaging apps where there is no risk of that spilling out to anywhere else.”
So how does this affect Twitter? According to Daisley all of the platforms can coexist, with content across social networks hitting different audiences.
The complementary nature of the platforms was shown by Daisley with the example of two American teens that simply snapchatted (yes that is the verb) what one of them was wearing every day, which gained a life of its own as Damn Daniel. The teens aggregated and tweeted out a video of the snapchats.
That video was retweeted 340,000 times in the first 48 hours, got 13 million YouTube views and the teens ended up on the Ellen Show. Furthermore, fashion brands started cashing in on the virality of the video.
This reflects the continued rise of video content on social networks. Twitter says it is seeing a huge increase in video and specifically live video on the platform. In the last twelve months alone Twitter has seen a 220x increase, which coincides with the integration of Periscope into the platform since they acquired the live video company in 2015.
Smash, The Fine Bros, PewDiePie, KSI, Ryan Higa, Paul Walker, Jennifer Lawrence, Shane Dawson, Katy Perry.
If you haven’t heard of half of those people you probably don’t self-identify as a millennial. That is the list of the most influential people on social media according to Variety from August 2014, and Hollywood’s A-list is lagging behind social media “influencers”.
“One of the mega trends we are seeing is the impact of digital creators,” said Daisley. “These could be styled YouTubers, but they exist far beyond YouTube now. They are on Vine and other digital content platforms. You may not see the impact they are having unless you are under 25, but they are the silent media powers which are having a disruptive effect.”
Daisley said that the most popular word new users type in when they open a Twitter account is the name of a YouTuber from their respective country. “New voices are the principle driver of people’s usage,” he added.
A study by Twitter in May showed that users now trust influencers nearly as much as they trust their friends. No wonder brands are keen to access influencers, for better or worse, to show off their products on their Instagram accounts.