Twitter’s Problem – Their Business Model Is Not Inclusive

OMG – not inclusive? How is that possible? The Millennials of America have made inclusiveness their mantra. They believe in inclusiveness. They write, speak (and Tweet) about it endlessly. They believe that they are the most inclusive generation ever. They are soooo different from old people.

This is the core of Twitter’s problem – they believe and therefore assume that they are actually inclusive in their thinking. It’s a natural mistake for young people to make, but one would hope that young people in business would check their assumptions a bit more carefully. After all, this is business, not a social movement. But my guess is that Twitter’s marketing geniuses long ago concluded they have checked all the “inclusiveness boxes” and have never looked back.

Want an excellent example of how this happens?

There is a boutique Cannabis Recruitment firm, who I will not name and shame because they are really nice people, who very specifically make inclusiveness their #1 goal in recruiting personnel for the Cannabis industry. Here are two quotes from their beautiful website, featuring beautiful photos of beautiful people depicting diversity and inclusiveness.

To candidates: “We are fully dedicated to promoting diversity in the workplace, and we strongly encourage women, people of color, LGBTQ candidates and candidates with disabilities to submit their resumes.”

To employers: “We will help you find candidates that are aware of and sensitive to the diversity among your customers and stakeholders. With our help, you can build your brand as one of the rare marijuana businesses to connect across communities.”

What, or rather who, is missing here?

Let me approach the question as it applies to Twitter this way.

Of the 46.2 million Americans over 65, 70% are daily internet users, 27% own the latest Smartphone, and 8.4% are Twitter users.

Oops! That is the lowest user rate of all Twitter’s demographic segments. They almost don’t exist.

I think the reason is simple – very smart young people tend to be in charge at companies like Twitter, and they have a focus on Self that borders on obsession. Twitter is built on that obsession.

Which is perfectly natural, and for a while it has been very smart. Young people are always obsessed with themselves. Always have been; always will be. Twitter is a great model built on that completely natural, completely human, completely understandable fact.

By the way, older people have always known this about the young, which is why they smile indulgently at their grandchildren’s self-absorbed chatter and tell them how clever and special they are. It is an exceptionally rare grandchild who ever asks a grandparent what they have been doing lately. It is almost always the other way around.

For a while this has been a very smart business strategy. Twitter’s prime demographic markets have supported its growth so spectacularly that probably nobody at Twitter corporate even noticed the right side of the user graph that shows people over 65 as the least Twittery of any group. I mean, who the fuck cares about having only 8.2% of those 46.2 million old people anyway, when you’ve got all those billions of young people happily Tweeting away about where they are and what they are doing and what music they are listening to?

Hey Twitter – ever heard of “low hanging fruit”? Ever thought about what happens when it’s gone? Has it occurred to you that there might be some fine old fruit higher up on the tree – like more than 65 feet above the ground? Your user numbers say that this has never occurred to you.

History is littered with once very successful, very powerful, very rich companies that have completely disappeared simply because they didn’t see what was right in front of them, and never bothered to re-access their business model because it had always worked. Until it didn’t.

The classic Tarot card for The Fool is a young man stepping off a cliff while gazing up at the moon, so entranced by his own reflection in the heavens that he doesn’t notice impending doom right beneath his feet.

That is your problem, Twitter. Self-absorption is not the primary focus for most people over 65. And your business model depends on self-absorption.

Here’s a clue, oh high and mighty Twitter executives. Ask yourselves – what actually IS the primary focus for older people? What do THEY want to talk about, especially with other older people? What might they actually want to Tweet about?

You don’t know, do you? Is that because it has never occurred to you that you needed to know? My guess is – probably so.


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