Hopeful elements for analysts and investors to cling to during Twitter's earnings call were few. Twitter enjoys a 95 percent brand awareness score across the most important global markets, an achievement that puts Twitter in "rarified air," according to Noto. But the company has reached less than 30 percent of all potential users in those markets, mostly early adopters and technology enthusiasts.
"The product remains too difficult to use," Noto says. "We have not communicated why people should use Twitter, nor made it easy for them to understand how to use Twitter. This is both a product issue and a marketing issue."
Twitter hasn't clarified its strategy for other products like Vine and Periscope either, which gives the impression that there's all these siloed efforts that aren't fully united under the Twitter umbrella, says Liousas. "They really have to organize what's going on in their own house and figure out what the value propositions are for each of those products before even thinking about how to stand out within the market," she points out. "They have to stand out within their customer set first."
Have the stars finally aligned?
With so much turmoil at the executive level, however, and continued uncertainty about who'll be leading the company a few months from now, it's possible that Twitter may never get the chance to see things through. Unless, that is, Google's backpedaling on Google+ and Twitter's uncharacteristically honest self-appraisals have introduced some new math to the equation.
Google has a handful of apps that attract more than 1 billion users each, but it's never cracked into the social space at that level. Now that the company is slowly disentangling itself from the long and oftentimes awkward reach of Google+, one has to wonder if the company still thinks social media is as critical as it did when it launched Google+ four years ago.
In a blog post titled "Everything in its right place," Bradley Horowitz, Google's vice president recently put in charge of the platform, sidestepped the question of what will come of Google+. But the writing has been on the wall for about the last half of Google+'s existence. The company is systematically narrowing the focus and capabilities of Google+ by repositioning it as an "interest-based social experience." Many of the network's best features are being pulled out and reintroduced on single-use apps.
Photos, for example, are being moved to the new Google Photos app. And location sharing is moving to Hangouts. The biggest change, though, is that Google+ profiles will no longer be required to use all of Google's other products. YouTube is first in line to rid itself of Google+, but every Google product will follow suit in the coming months, according to Horowitz.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.