Just as website designers tend to stick with development software that they know and understand, social media users rarely change their communication platform unless forced into it by closure, but thankfully, those events are rare.
Geocities, the company that Yahoo purchased for $3.6 billion in 1999 has finally been given the last rites with the closure of its Japanese operation in March this year, and Myspace still exists on life support, dreaming of what could have been and seemingly always entertaining hopes of a comeback.
So what is a potential investor to make of Twitter in the face of a declining user base and plunging financials? Is it headed for the rocks or will it shoot for the stars and finally put some big boy pants on? Twitter is currently $36.15 off its July high of $46.65 – worth a punt?
Twitter is a mess. It's a difficult platform to do research on (although the advanced search has improved massively) and the signal to noise ratio is so high that it can put off all but the most determined. If you persevere beyond the apparent flaws of having a sprawling content network with very little substance control and a soapbox for anyone with an opinion you might, just might find some golden nuggets of information.
There are Twitter accounts that are worth following for news, particularly if you enjoy following the 24-hour political news story as it unravels or football transfer gossip, for example. But the value of this information is low unless you are a betting man and even if you are, trying to avoid the lemons is worse than merely doing the original research yourself.
As a serious news platform, Twitter is severely flawed, the abundance of trolls, bots, have a go conspiracy theorists and hate speech run riot unchecked.
However, the power of Twitter to direct the critical narrative of TV drama, soaps and live events are untapped. There is a small but quickly growing army of Twitter users that love nothing more than to critique and comment on their favourite shows in real time. All that's needed is a real-time Twitter feed to display on the TV and anyone can become famous with a well-timed barb.
Paid for followed accounts is a potential revenue source, which is being trialled. Those users that have access to the inside information can offer a subscription service directly on the Twitter platform rather than redirecting people to their website and losing sales in the process.
Premium Tweets will rub shoulders with the generally available public riff-raff so you'll have to do a lot of unfollowing or make some sense of the “lists” feature to make it work, but it has potential.
Is the potential enough to make up for the lowly share price? It's doubtful, in my opinion, because trying to find things Twitter is good at is such an exacting science. Twitter may gain back its recent losses, but beyond that, it will ultimately join Geocities and Myspace in the social media graveyard when other platforms add Twitter-like functionality to their offering.