Patrick Kitchell
Patrick Kitchell 12 March 2015

Twitter's Competitive Disadvantage

Twitter's Competitive Disadvantage Is Its Lack of Empathy.

Twitter's Competitive Disadvantage Is Its Lack of Empathy.

I would argue that Twitter has one major competitive disadvantage and maybe the core reason they may have trouble being profitable going forward.

The fact is that many people perceive that Twitter as having no user empathy and without this people will not buy services from Twitter because they have no positive feelings or experiences towards the brand Twitter.

This crisis, in my mind, is the same as those who can remember the Tylenol Crisis of 1982 where someone had poisoned the tylenol killing people and Johnson & Johnson did something that has left a lasting impression of how organizations should act in the face of a brand destroying crisis.

I would argue that Twitter is in a brand destroying crisis and has a real challenge on its hands and needs to follow the example of Johnson & Johnson by acting boldly now to save its brand and credibility.

My Account Suspension

Yesterday, I was at a birthday party and during one of the breaks, I checked my Twitter account to see what magical things were happening in my timeline only to find that my account had been suspended.

Now this isn't the first time my account has been suspended but the experience of suspension is the same and in this experience lies the real issue for twitter.

Twitter Customer Service

Twitter Has No Empathy

For those that don't know me, I am a twitter fan boy (@denmark98) and I really like what I get in the return; the connections and the information that I can find and use are relevant to me. I would even go so far as to call me a twitter evangelist as I teach and promote Twitter at ever turn. I have also grown to 56,300 followers and this has increased my desire and loyalty towards the platform.

Therefore, my heart and passion is in twitter and this means that I use it for many purposes such as:

  • Engaging Both For Private and Business purposes
  • Signing into a variety of services
  • Drive traffic to blog posts
  • Promote Products for others
  • Meet new people
  • News
  • Other

Back to My Suspension

I care deeply each time Twitter suspends my account because it affects me both personally and professionally. Therefore, I also want to know WHY Twitter suspends me and this is where my issue lies with Twitter and why I think Twitter is headed for real trouble.

Each time Twitter has suspended my account, I have tried get an explanation about why this has happened so that I can change my behavior. I am certainly not perfect by any means and can do things wrong. Therefore, I try to seek specific advice from Twitter on my concrete behavior so I can make my experience better, I can educate others on twitter behavior and help make the twitter platform better.

As part of my suspension I have two emails from twitter service desk people and they could explain the reason for the suspension and what I need to do to eliminate this in the future. Does this take time and cost money? Of course but it is dam good service and will increase users feelings towards twitter as a brand.

I know Twitter has FAQs and tons of information about all these things, you can find them here: Twitter FAQ: Account Suspensions The problem is that Twitter lacks a human touch!

As for the information, I have read them all including a ton of blog posts on twitter behavior, suspensions, trolling, harassment and a wide array of issues and the problem is this information is so general that in my twitter experience I can't use it for anything. So, I am educated to know generally "why" twitter suspends accounts but I don't know why they suspend mine.

Therefore, Twitter has to learn empathy to survive and become human. There are many cases of sexual harassment, death threats and other situations that spiralled out of control because Twitter is too slow to react and it takes Twitter a very long time to deal with things. The reason for this is that Twitter is a "robot" built on advanced algorithms with very little human interaction from their side.

What Can Twitter Do?

Twitter needs to find a way to make themselves have real human qualities and interact and engage twitter users both small and large regardless of the cost. Why? This will pay dividends in good will which usually affects the bottom line if done right.

  • Twitter should go on the offensive and openly eradicate these problems much like Tylenol did in 1982.
  • Twitter should accept the gift and see this as their obligation to educate the end user at every turn in a personal way.
  • Twitter should make all things transparent and personalized about how Twitter works at an individual user level.
  • Twitter needs to develop real empathy towards the casual and the serious user.


Just a small update - I was asked on twitter: "What brands do you think have feelings?" .

My answer is simple - a brand has feelings and they are what I feel towards them and how I perceive them.

My experience with twitter as a service and as a responsive brand name is the "Feelings" of Twitter or any brand. This is how they show digital and human empathy and that is experience marketing in a nutshell.

Now, I am a twitter fanboy that will go down with the ship if it ever came to that. I would say that Twitter has a huge challenge ahead of them but if the acknowledge that lacking empathy is competitive disadvantage then they can also turn it into a real competitive advantage. Why? People will spend more money on their services if they know Twitter cares about them personally.

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