Breakout

How to fix Twitter

Philip Pearlman
Breakout

Twitter appears to be doing a good enough job monetizing traffic these days. The bad news, though, is that user growth is slowing big time and engagement is deteriorating. This is why the stock is getting crushed here back down into the 50’s the day after earnings.

Specifically, this is the first time in the history of the company that timeline views shrank quarter over quarter. Domestic timeline views have not grown for two quarters.This is bad for a growth stock with a huge multiple. Very very bad.

Fortunately, I have a solution that should not be that difficult for Twitter to iterate promptly.

New user sign-up flow is the problem and solution

Last night, I went and signed up for a new account. I have had a Twitter account and been a heavy user for seven years, but I was curious what the experience would be like for a new user who was coming to the site for the first time.

I was thinking that part of the problem was that the sign-up flow had deteriorated and, sure enough, my sign-up experience was atrocious. There’s two things wrong with the process.

First, the physical interface is confusing with only a small window to scroll through. This is shockingly bad. I was responsible for navigating this small window and choosing who to follow from a series of prefabricated lists of famous Twitter accounts. If I was really a new user, I might have given up right there.

Second, and most importantly, the sign-up flow prevents new users from getting to the magic of Twitter quickly and easily.

Twitter is a place where millions of experts from all over the world are discussing incredible things smartly. On my new account, however, I am following a small handful of random people, including Kim Kardashian, that I would never really want to follow in real life.

Torturous.

I can imagine how Twitter arrived at this convoluted and ineffective sign-up flow. It has likely altered the process countless times over the course of its eight year history, each time attempting to make it better or solve a problem, while making it incrementally worse each time.

Starting from Scratch

Well, its time for a 'start from scratch' revamp that gets new users to the magic faster and much more easily.

Twitter requires a completely new sign-up flow - one that moves away from the ineffective active following process and towards an intuitive passive one.

Twitter now has a gargantuan store of data. It knows who the best users are across categories, sub-categories and micro-categories.

It needs to begin leveraging the heck out of that data for its precious new users. Instead of having them try to find all these people amid the river of hundreds of millions of accounts, it should simply give them up freely.

Here’s How it Would Work

You sign up for an account. Twitter asks you three simple questions:

What is your profession?

What are your hobbies?

Who are your favorite celebrities?

You answer the three questions, click enter and, automagically, you go right to your stream where you are following 500 people who are notable in the sub-categories you have identified in your responses to the three questions.

Your stream is rich with content, serendipity and surprises and you can begin floating blissfully down the Twitter stream.

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