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Top 4 ways to improve Twitter in 2017

Twitter
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Twitter

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked for feedback Thursday on what the company should do next year. As a veteran user of the service, here are my top 4 suggestions to re-accelerate Twitter's user growth and bring some of the magic back.


1) Cull spammers who abuse @reply and search topic hashtags

Twitter spam is still a serious problem. Often when I search recent news topics and hashtags, the results are inundated with spam tweets. In addition, the spammers use @reply, direct messages and fake profile follow notifications to annoy users.

Getting more aggressive against spammers may hurt traffic metrics in the short-run, but it is the right thing to do. Spam turns off users and lowers engagement. With the company's monthly-active-user growth only 3 percent year-over-year in the most recent quarter, Twitter might as well do it now for the long-term user experience benefit.

2) Manually curated topic best-follow lists

Twitter has amazing users who consistently create great content, but the difficult part is finding the best accounts to follow. Why not make it easier?


Source: Twitter

The company is already experimenting with a curated "top commentary" tab during its NFL game video streams and user follow recommendations during the new account on-boarding process. A similar topical list channels feature with easy subscribe/unsubscribe functionality should be expanded to all Twitter users.

Manually curated lists on up to 50 topics such as sports, news and finance filled with the best quality experts will easily be a big hit and spur increased user activity.

3) Ad-free paid Twitter subscriptions

To encourage the top users to keep producing the best content, Twitter can give them the opportunity to make money.

Before it got acquired by Amazon, video-game streaming social network Twitch let users subscribe to channels for $5-per-month and paid the creator a 50 percent split of the revenue generated.

A Twitter paid service can let subscribers receive an ad-free experience with additional premium messaging and community features.

4) Expand video streaming programming

Twitter should take advantage of its valuable prime real estate and mind-share on the smartphone home-screens. The company can ramp its video programming offerings on a separate tab in its mobile and Apple TV apps.

From concerts, news shows, sports and other live events, the company has a large growth opportunity to be the leading live mobile video distribution platform. The highly-targeted video ads during the streams should also become increasingly valuable to marketers.

Finally, let's remember the Hippocratic Oath of "first, do no harm." There is much discussion of changing the nature of the current text time-line. Hopefully, Twitter doesn't mess up what makes its great for the 317 million users that use it already.

Commentary by Tae Kim. Follow him on Twitter @firstadopter.

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