It feels like I should start this blog post by expressing my sadness about the layoffs at Twitter. Or reveal my anger about Elon Musk allegedly forcing what remains of his development team into the office for late-night, Red Bull-fuelled code reviews.

I’m not going to, though. Because, firstly, it goes without saying that any kind of unexpected layoff in the workplace is a horrible thing for the person who has to return home to their family and explain what’s happened – you’d have to be quite a piece of work to suggest or think otherwise.

Secondly, and like practically everyone commenting on the situation at Twitter, I have zero ideas about what’s going on. The reporting, insider Tweets, and even the waffle coming from Elon himself have become so voluminous and contradictory that I’ve lost interest.

A case in point: my timeline last Friday was full of people bidding “farewell” to Twitter and suggesting that, by Monday, the platform would disappear entirely.

It didn’t. Obviously. It was never going to and it won’t for a very long time. Ironically, Twitter appears to be more responsive and engaging than it has been for quite some time.

But the soap opera of the last few weeks isn’t what’s wrong with Twitter, I’m afraid. The real problem with Twitter is that, over the last couple of years, it has been missing a huge trick and a massive opportunity. It’s one that I’m hoping its new owner can capitalise on – sharpish.

My short-form experiment

I’ve been throwing a lot of effort into short-form content recently. By effort, I mean repurposing long-form content for YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and the TikToks.

It has been a fascinating experiment. Videos that take just a few minutes to make often smash the view count of my regular videos which take many hours to create. At times, it’s genuinely surprising (and rather sobering). A YouTube Short can clock up hundreds of views in just a few minutes of going live, and they even tempt viewers to hit the ‘subscribe’ button, despite only revealing a tiny snippet of my style, approach, and personality.

Unfortunately, the engagement for short-form content comes in waves. You get a big chunk of interest as soon as they go live, and then it dies off. Sometimes, it returns. Sometimes, they’re dead on arrival. Sometimes, nothing happens for ages only for your little video to suddenly and completely unexpectedly hit the big time a few days later.

This is the problem with short-form video content on the aforementioned platforms; you have very little control over the way in which it performs. By contrast, I can create regular-length YouTube videos and, usually, predict whether or not they’ll be a top performer, middle-of-the-road safe bet, or en route to Tank City. And I’m usually right.

More importantly, there’s a significant lack of engagement with short-form content. It’s possible to get people talking on TikTok, but only if you piss them off, in which case your comments feed suddenly fills with knuckle-dragging trolls.

In my experience, the comments sections for YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels are waste grounds. Which is a shame, because that’s where the magic should be happening.

This is where Twitter should be cleaning up.

The Twitter opportunity

I love Twitter – I have for years. Now, I have a slowly growing, highly-active audience. It’s taking time to build, but, as it turns out, that’s a very good thing indeed.

Twitter is all about curating an environment that works for you. It has a highly underrated algorithm which will make or break your time on the platform, depending on how you choose to spend your time there. Invest your precious time in ‘doom scrolling’ and your feed will be filled with tweets that depress you (I’ve fallen into this trap). Alternatively, if you spend more time reading and engaging with positive stuff, Twitter turns into a wonderful escape during hectic, stressful days.

I’ve opted for the latter, and it’s something I do both passively and proactively. Tweets that inspire me get liked or retweeted, and I’ll respond to questions from strangers that get me thinking. Occasionally, I’ll send out a “good morning” tweet and ask what everyone’s up to. Without fail, I get a tonne of responses and likes. It’s one of the most vibrant, positive, and thought-provoking platforms I visit throughout the day.

However, these interactions sit within the boundaries of a 280-character limit. You can add the occasional GIF or expand your thoughts via a thread, but for video creators like yours truly, that isn’t enough. We want proper video support.

Imagine the barebones of YouTube residing within Twitter. The ability to publish videos – of any length, within reason – with descriptions, tags, thumbnails, and titles. The ability to put them in front of an already engaged audience and into the aforementioned algorithm excites me, big time.

Elon is teasing better video support and the essential creator remuneration that should come with it. If he comes good on his word, I will move a significant chunk of my video production effort over to the big blue bird.

The challenge

Let’s not beat around the bush – adding a creator-focused, revenue-sharing video platform to Twitter is quite a challenge.

The biggest problem facing Elon is moderation. It has taken YouTube years to create a platform that is admirably moderated but which still suffers from bot infestations and harmful comment threads.

Twitter already has a significant moderation problem. Elon is also playing fervently with the verification system and leaving many unanswered questions about impersonation and plagiarism in his wake. Let’s also not forget that, if you go looking for it, Twitter has an abundance of awful content that spreads hate and harmful agendas.

Imagine throwing a proper video-sharing platform into the mix. Yikes.

This is why I hope Elon and his chums take their time with this. Twitter has, clearly, been broken for many years. Lots of stuff obviously needs fixing, and Elon needs to prove his worth – particularly given the bull-in-a-china-shop entrance he’s made.

I can be patient with this; I’d much rather wait for the right video service to emerge on Twitter after they’ve fixed the existing mess (both operationally and technically). Until then, I will sit on the sidelines and observe while continuing to experiment with video content elsewhere.

Twitter is in a weird, transitional, questionable phase. I get that. But the future could be very bright indeed.

p.s. I welcome debate on this, but I’ve experienced some rather unpleasant rail-roading on Twitter when I’ve asked questions about the legitimacy of the reporting surrounding Elon’s actions. I’m all for constructive criticism, and I’ve been taught by my parents to respect the opinions of others. Therefore all I ask of anyone who decides to enter the comments section of this blog post is that you show me the same level of respect that I will show you – even if we have differing opinions. I wish I didn’t have to add this footnote, and most of you are bloody lovely, but this is the internet. Thank you.