I’ve alluded to this in a previous digest
, but we are currently experiencing the tipping point of Twitter. Yesterday, Twitter turned off access to several essential API’s that third-party Twitter clients, like Tweetbot & Twitterrific, need to provide a reasonable user experience to their users.
I wanted to zoom out and look at this situation through a wider lens.
There is an important moment in the life of any social network that flies under the radar - the moment they shift their attention from their early adopters to the masses.
It’s the social media equivalent to reaching the ‘maturity’ stage of the product life cycle. And it’s the moment that they stop optimizing for a better product and instead optimize for higher engagement from their most mediocre user - the user that sits atop the bell curve.
The early adopters - those that drove the product’s growth (Seth Godin would say they ‘sneezed’ it), shift from a first-rate customer to a second or third-rate customer. Over time, they become increasingly discontent - as the network moves from serving the power users to serving the power users’ mom. And the users who help build the product now flee for “new hotness” - the next iteration, where they will once again feel valued.
We have seen this trend several times in the short life of social media. As a user, it is very frustrating. But as a bystander, it seems like a very solvable problem.
So much of this cycle could be avoided (or prolonged) if networks like Facebook and Twitter created an alternative app/experience for their pro user. Imagine if the pro user - the user who is on the platform multiple times per day, who can manage their own timeline (and don’t need an algorithm’s help), and who had access/voice into the future of the platform - was continually served and didn’t flee.
They would be telling their circle of influence about the next great Twitter feature, instead of the next great Twitter.
That was the role Twitter’s third party clients filled…until yesterday. Today, we are left with an appropriate remnant - a trending hashtag, #BreakingMyTwitter.