Rutgers students discuss decline of Twitter's popularity
Twitter's iconic blue bird may not be tweeting for much longer.
Twitter was founded in 2006, and in addition to serving as a forum for citizens to broadcast their daily lives, has been a go-to source for reporters and media outlets for instant updates on the latest news.
The platform's 140-character limit has gained notoriety for being a quick and concise tool for reporters to send out news updates. But now, Twitter users are opting out of the platform.
“You would think that because of my career field, I would love Twitter, but I actually never use it,” said Nicole Wojtowicz, an aspiring fashion blogger. “I use it for work purposes and that's pretty much it. I don't think it's fun, and it's hard to gain followers.”
The 140-character limit is the real cause for Twitter's decline, said Wojtowicz, School of Arts and Sciences senior. The limit has become a “hard sell” for users because tweets must be put out strategically.
“You have to be very specific and know exactly what to say and, more importantly, at what time to say it to get the best results for that specific tweet,” she said.
Other social media platforms, like the narrow-cast platform, Snapchat, are on the rise and could ultimately be the reason why Twitter use is declining. She said she has not seen many updates on Twitter’s end, another possible reason for the decline.
“Snapchat and Instagram have gained tremendous momentum over the past few months,” she said. “Snapchat introduced their ‘Discover’ pages as well as having live stories, which cover events and news stories happening around the world.”
Wojtowicz is not the only one to think Twitter’s days could be numbered.
The platform's decline was not a surprise, said Marie Haverfield, a professor in the Department of Communication.
“In talking to students, particularly in these larger classes, where I’ve tried to incorporate Twitter in the past, it had been successful in more recent semesters. It’s not so much the case (now),” Haverfield said. “It doesn’t seem that students are not necessarily using Twitter — they’re using other types of media more frequently.”
Haverfield said she has tried to keep pushing students to interact with her and classmates on Twitter, but she has not seen any activity in recent semesters.
“In previous semesters, I think I was a lot more proactive, but I was just not getting any response from students,” she said. “They might have favorited my tweet but not retweeted it or responded to it in any way.”
Other professors make Twitter discussions part of their grading criteria for their classes, but Haverfield never took that approach.
“I know there are some students (who) don’t want to be in the Twitter-verse,” she said. “I wanted to not penalize them for that option.”
Despite her belief that Twitter is declining, she said she would see more interaction, at least among her students, if she made it part of her participation policy. But she believes the activity will eventually fade over time.
Students are simply engaging in other social media apps. And though she understands the uses for each of them, she does not think that she would bring those platforms into her class.
“At this stage, I don’t see a use for Instagram or Snapchat in the classroom setting,” she said. “I’m sure that they can be integrated but I think this is (the case) with all types of social media.”
It comes down to the fact that there are newer social media sites on the market. All social media platforms have a “lifetime” and eventually fade away, she said.
“We saw (MySpace) get a lot of popularity and now it’s sort gone the way of the buffalo,” she said, referring to Facebook's former competitor.
Even though Twitter usage is fading, plenty of users think the platform still serves a purpose.
“I use Twitter for my daily news updates — mainly sports,” said Nicholas Kosko, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “I also utilize it for tweeting my own thoughts and opinions on various sports topics, share articles I've written for ‘Glory Days Magazine’ or my own personal blog and hope for them to gain traction.”
Kosko agrees that Twitter has been supplanted by other social media platforms. Aside from these platforms, he said a lot of news outlets have their own mobile versions, which could also contribute to Twitter's decline.
Despite this, he stressed that Twitter is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“Twitter is a big time news source,” he said. “News has become almost all mobile and online. And Twitter is probably the best way to receive breaking news up to the second it is released.”
Julian Jimenez is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies with a minor in digital communication, information and media. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @JulianTheMenez.