What would happen if Twitter disappeared tomorrow?
I’ve been on Twitter since 2007. It’s part of my daily routine and probably my most vital social media channel for finding and sharing news. But Twitter has had some lingering financial issues and when they recently tried to sell the company, no one stepped up to make an appropriate offer.*
Also, a couple of social media experiments have crashed and burned lately. Twitter announced that they were closing Vine.** Talkshow had a bunch of potential but didn’t make it six months. And while Twitter is much larger, it’s not immune from financial reality.
Which got me thinking, what if we woke up one morning and Twitter was gone. Or more likely, what if Twitter changed so radically, that it was unusable? How would that change the way I get things done?
I’d lose a bunch of contacts. I follow a large number of designers, brands and local experts on Twitter — and no where else. If Twitter disappeared, I’d lose all those contacts and have to try and reconstruct the network on another channel. Not an easy task.
I’d change how I watch live events. During the World Series, I kept an eye on Twitter. During the presidential debates, I followed along on Twitter. During the University of South Carolina's football game last weekend, I kept up with the score on Twitter. During election night coverage, sigh. Twitter is the perfect companion to a live event and I’d miss seeing what my friends and family think in real time.
I’d have to rethink how I find articles and stories. I find lots of inspirational links and content on Twitter. If Twitter goes away, I’m using RSS and Feedly much more aggressively.
I’d have to rethink how I share content. I share most of my blog posts through Twitter. If Twitter were gone, I’d have to share them somewhere else like Facebook or Medium.
I’d change the way I use Facebook. I use Facebook for family pictures and connecting with people I know and have met. If Twitter disappeared, I’d probably use Facebook more to connect with a wider audience. Maybe I’d invest more time into building the Sketchbook B page on Facebook. Post more links to articles on my Facebook feed. If Twitter goes away, my Facebook experience changes radically.
I’d spend more time on Instagram. Because I love Instagram, almost as much as I love Twitter. And I’m going to have some free time if there is no Twitter.
I’d try to find a replacement. If Twitter disappeared, I imagine several companies would rush to unveil a replacement. Or modify their social product to attract Twitter refugees. You know Google would retool and rebrand Google Plus, Linked In might try to be less of a train wreck. Even Snapchat might try to appeal to former Twitter users. Startups would start, and fail. Someone would try to resurrect App.net. I’d try them all, but I’m not sure there can truly be a replacement for Twitter.
So I don’t think Twitter will just shut down. At some point, the price to purchase the company gets so low, that someone will take a chance on them. I’m more concerned that Twitter, or a company that buys Twitter, will change it so completely, that it becomes useless.
This exercise had forced me, though, to start evaluating areas where I am too reliant on Twitter. I'm going to start connecting to designers and thought leaders on other channels. I'm looking for new avenues to find and share content. I'll evaluate how I use channels like Facebook, Instagram, Dribbble, YouTube and Medium.
Twitter might not disappear, but it's still best not to keep your eggs in one basket.
* This was compounded but the fact that few established companies — like Disney — wanted to take on Twitter while abusive rhetoric is rampant. Let’s face it, Twitter has been a dumpster fire during this election season.
Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he ponders the future of social media. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram.