Who Is Going To Fix Twitter’s Product?

by drjim on November 9, 2015

Twitter is popular, but not popular enough

Twitter is popular, but not popular enough
Image Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Just about everyone out there has heard about Twitter. It’s the company that invented the 140 character “tweet” micro-blogging platform. TV shows, journalists, and celebrities all seem to be using this service all the time. The problem is that regular people don’t seem to be using it. Basically, Twitter has a product development definition problem – their customers don’t understand the product. It sure looks like Twitter needs some product management help…

The Challenges That Twitter Is Facing

Over at Twitter, the company has no problem getting publicity. It’s hard to not watch a TV program or an ad on TV without seeing a Twitter “hashtag” displayed in a corner of the screen at some point. However, what Twitter is discovering is that although they’ve done an excellent job of infiltrating the mainstream media, the bulk of their end users still don’t understand how to use the service.

This is the kind of problem that could impact what goes onto a product manager resume.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading an article that contained an amazing statistic. What it said was that 44% of the people who come to the Twitter site and sign up for an account, have never even sent a single tweet – they’ve never used the service!

Clearly Twitter has a unique product management problem on their hands. They need to find a way to gain mainstream adoption. One of the reasons that this is so very important for them to do is because the way that Twitter makes money is through advertisers who use the service. The more active users that Twitter has, the more valuable they will be to advertisers and the more money they can make.

The Man Who Will Fix Twitter’s Product Problems

I’m pretty sure that we can all see that Twitter has a product management problem. Now the question is, who can fix this problem for them? Twitter has decided that Ali Rowghani is the person who is going to be able to solve this challenging problem for them.

A little background on Ali is probably required first. Ali has no product development experience. He started his career at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and then he moved on to Pixar where he was the CFO. He was brought into Twitter as the CFO, but he has become good friends with the CEO and has now been promoted to be the company’s COO.

What Ali has to do now is to find ways to get new Twitter users to come up to speed faster and then to make the service feel like more of an integral part of their day. Two issues that he needs to solve right off the bat are to help new users find existing Twitter accounts to “follow” and to explain to them the unique shorthand that Twitter users incorporate into their length limited messages.

What All Of This Means For You

Not all of us will have an opportunity to work on a high profile product like Twitter which seems to be in the newspapers almost every week. However, even a company like Twitter can run into product management problems that have to be solved by a product manager even if this kind of problem was never covered in your product manager job description.

One of Twitter’s biggest problems is that their customers don’t understand how to use the product. Twitter’s chief product manager, Ali Rowghant, is facing a real challenge as he tries to convince Twitter users to make it a part of their everyday life. Yes, this can be done but exactly how it can be done is not currently clear.

Twitter is making a lot of money right now and they are in no danger of going out of business. However, they are a part of that Internet business environment that moves so very quickly that they need to find a way to become more relevant to their customers or risk becoming irrelevant. Ali has a big task on his hands, let’s all hope that he has the product management skills that it’s going to take in order to find a way to fix Twitter’s product problems.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the very first thing that Ali should do?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Think, if you will, about the world of perfumes. This market consists of tiny little bottles that contain liquids that when sprayed on (most of the time) women produce scents that the wearer believes will make them more attractive to the opposite sex. Chanel No. 5 is considered to be the most expensive perfume in the world and is priced at $121.71 per ounce. Clearly there is a market for these scents; however, can product managers bring the art of creating and selling perfume into the 21st Century?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Enda November 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Twitter have an accidental product and everyone is afraid to make changes but instead add revenue generating product to a broken product! In keeping with simplicity, as a head of poduct I would accept Facebook logins to capture name, email as a stub account. I would design a native app that feels more like ‘chat groups’ to fix usability problems and simpleify customer journeys. This new product direction opens up a whole new roadmap possibility for this major media company that’s underperforming and missing out on its true potential globally.

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drjim November 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Enda: good points. Twitter needs to do something to make using it seem more like you are really talking to someone instead of just yelling in the dark. Chat groups might be the way to go…

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