Elon Musk's drawn out, on-again, off-again purchase of Twitter is finally a done deal. Now the question becomes what exactly has Musk acquired for $44 billion? A thriving social media platform, or a struggling one? Musk notably raised concerns about the number of fake accounts, or "bots," on Twitter and even threatened to back out of the deal over that issue. However, it appears the biggest problem facing the new Twitter owner is not fake accounts, but people with real accounts using them less and less. A new Reuters report cites internal documents saying Twitter has been losing its most active users for a couple of years now. These so-called "heavy users" generate 90% of all tweets and account for half of the company's global revenue.
Losing these "heavy tweeters" is a big blow to Twitter. "These people, who log on at least six or seven days a week, seem to be flocking to other forms of social media, including TikTok and Instagram," says High Tech Texan Michael Garfield.
It's far too early to say Musk is taking over a sinking ship, but he certainly has short-term and long-term challenges to address at Twitter. "There are so many other social media platforms out there that are hot," says Garfield. "TikTok is doing really well, Snapchat is out there, Instagram is doing quite well...but what Twitter is doing right now seems to be kind of in flux."
The challenge for Musk might ultimately come down to can he make Twitter "cool" again? "(Musk) is a brilliant man in some aspects, whether trying to go to space or building electric cars," says Garfield. "But I guess the question now is what does he know about running a social media company?"
Musk is already making sweeping changes at Twitter---removing old management, disbanding the company's board, and slashing staff numbers. But Garfield believes the real challenge will be maintaining and growing advertising revenue in the face of declining user numbers. "As those followers leak and they go away, (Musk) is not going to be able to charge (advertisers) as much," he tells KTRH. "So I think it's going to be a long haul before Twitter is righted."