Vende Buzz – Twitter woes and competition for PayPal

by Ray Larson
  |  January 15, 2016  |  
January 15, 2016

by Ray Larson

Well, ok – it isn’t really a “plummet” but it has been a serious slide over the last year. Twitter went public in 2013 at $26 / share and by the end of the next day, was selling at nearly $45 / share, hitting a high of about $70 / share just two months later. Like many IPOs with a lot of hype, the glory didn’t last, 6 months later the stock had fallen to near $30. Since mid-2014, stock prices have bounced a couple of times but saw the beginning of a downhill slide starting in April of 2015 after 1st quarter earnings (which weren’t great) were Tweeted before the official report. Yes, they did accidentally Tweet bad news about themselves and it spread like wildfire.
Notably, Twitter has fallen out of the top 3 social media platforms, now resting in 5th place behind Facebook, LinkedIn and behind Instagram and Pinterest which have both skyrocketed. In an attempt to beef up usage and revenues, multiple initiatives have been announced and former CEO, Jack Dorsey has returned. This hasn’t made the slide stop and in fact the stock continues to decline, with each day bringing seemingly more bad news.
So why did this happen? Well, it’s complicated.
In 2013, Twitter was a rising star but Instagram and Pinterest not yet big players. Facebook is, was, and will continue to be the giant in the game for some time and Facebook owns Instagram, ‘nuf said. Pinterest is “different” and is more like entertainment than communication. Both of those sites, along with LinkedIn are catering to a specific demographic, unlike Twitter which seems to be floundering.
Over the past year, and particularly since Dorsey’s return, Twitter has been tinkering with their service – in a big way. Take a breath because the list is long.
In the last half of 2015 alone, they introduced a “Moments” feature which functions more like Facebook’s news feed, offered “summaries” in push notifications, opened up the home page to people who haven’t logged in, opened search to Google, made blocking easier, introduced a new dashboard, removed background images, introduced Twitter polls for everyone, changed the star icon to a “heart”, changed “favorite” to “like”, began a campaign to “fight online abuse” which may have resulted in them doing something that looks a lot like censoring and allowed for lawsuits to be filed because they didn’t, offered “Periscope” live video feeds, and then put Periscope right into Tweets to run automatically – wreaking havoc with unsuspecting user’s data plans.
In August, they removed the 140-character limit on direct messaging and have proposed eliminating the character limit on Tweets, with speculation that the new “limit” would be 5,000 to 10,000 characters. Really, this is pretty much “no” limit as 10,000 characters is about 4 pages of plain text.
The last announcement isn’t official – and they have toyed with it before but it certainly has brought the biggest amount of attention, most of it “not good”.
As for stock prices, Jack Dorsey is under a lot of pressure and every day, things get worse for him but never fear, he still has his CEO job at Square.
This story is long so bounce through Twitter’s troubles at Digital Trends, Slate, and USA Today.
Point is: Twitter is a good example of what lack of targeting may do to your product. The company hasn’t done a great job of identifying a certain demographic to market to. Facebook is everywhere but it is an anomaly and trying to keep up with them is kind of pointless.
In addition, the constant tinkering with offerings and appearance is confusing, irritating and ineffective. They seem to be all over the map and don’t appear to have thought through any one particular change. This can affect your website too.
Twitter’s last idea (which may or may not happen) is downright odd. The whole point of Twitter has been the 140-character limit – and though it is challenging to get a message into less than two sentences –in a way, it’s kind of fun. They seem to have forgotten their biggest selling point and certainly aren’t paying attention to their own stats which show that even 140 characters may be too long. Tweets that are about 100 characters get the most engagement. In fact, Instagram is so successful because they target their demographic and tell a story with pictures – not words.
So the real takeaways are simple (like your posts should be).
• Identify your target
• Don’t make changes without thinking them through
• Keep your Tweets and other posts short
• Include images in your posts
….and remember, bad news spreads fast.
As for Twitter itself, there are still hundreds of millions of users so don’t hang it up.

Walmart signs on to Visa Checkout

PayPal, once the darling of e-commerce checkout, has fallen behind. Maybe it was the break with EBay, a lot of user dissatisfaction – or simply changes in the marketplace, but PayPal has given other mobile sales solutions an opportunity to step in. Visa Checkout emerged in 2014 but uptake was slow.
Not so much anymore, as several big retailers have signed on to Visa Checkout – including Walmart, Walgreens, Starbucks, HSN and Match(.com).
E-commerce is growing at four times the rate of “traditional” commerce and mobile commerce is expanding at a whopping eight times the rate. Obviously, “regular” commerce is still much bigger – but the millennials are big adopters of anything mobile and PayPal just wasn’t cutting it. A lot of them don’t even have “regular” bank accounts and even though Visa Checkout is not a mobile wallet, it simplifies the payment process a lot – and eliminates the need to carry an actual wallet.
Visa Checkout lets users pay for purchases – both online and in person with a username and password. More than just Visa cards can be registered under the same account and reliance on the retailer’s protection of financial information is seriously reduced.
Visa isn’t the only one to enter the market. American Express announced a deal with Uber last year, MasterCard has MasterPass and don’t forget the actual mobile wallets of Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft. Despite the competition (including that with PayPal), Visa has scored big with the new contracts.
Visa Checkout also offers merchants something big. They don’t charge additional fees to the merchant which PayPal does –they also say that there is a 51% increase in conversion compared to traditional online checkout…and the responsibility for security really falls to Visa.
Visa Checkout’s fortune is at Fortune.
Point is: Nothing lasts forever (well not usually) and though PayPal was once the only player in the easy pay game – figuring out the mood of the market isn’t something they have been good at. PayPal doesn’t have a stellar reputation, in fact – it is pretty bad and they aren’t the only game in town anymore. Google “PayPal complaints” and see how long the list is. It includes Facebook pages and even websites dedicated to trashing PayPal.
Whether you are into E-commerce – or not, check out all of your transaction processing options. You want to make the process easier and more secure for the customer and yourself. The mobile wallet and virtual pay idea may still be new but like everything else, where the millennials go, many may follow….and watch your online reputation. If you have complaints – address them.

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