What's happening @Twitter? One minute, it's laughing into the void.
The next minute, the social media site's own Twitter account acts like your parents.
"Go to sleep," @Twitter told the account's nearly 56 million followers on Jan. 10 at 8:30 p.m. PT.
Tweets from @Twitter are meant to reflect "the lighter, more conversational nature" of the social network. Through absurdist humor and a dash of mystery, more than 70 of the company's tweets posted since September are aimed at encouraging people to tweet more. That's why the company prompts its own users to post with the question "what's happening?"
"Tweets can stem from anything from a trend or joke we are seeing from Twitter users, to something going on in the world," a Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement.
But like Facebook and other tech firms, Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey, are under fire for not doing enough to combat harassment, hate speech and the spread of misinformation on their platforms by Russian trolls during the 2016 US presidential election. In September defending Twitter from allegations of political bias, and he pledged to improve the "health" of the platform.
Twitter's new voice, which comes as the 12-year-old service is losing users, is drawing both praise and criticism. Some users are getting a good laugh from interacting with the corporate account, with @Twitter tweeting "You. In emojis" and "knock, knock." But Twitter's social media strategy has baffled some digital marketing experts who say it does little to repair the company's bruised image or attract new users.
Twitter reported 326 million monthly active users worldwide in the third quarter, a drop of 9 million users compared with the previous quarter. The company attributed the decline in part to its crackdown on bots, spam and malicious accounts.
At a time when a photo of a brown egg is the most-liked photo on Instagram, some social media experts also see the cryptic tweets as an attempt by Twitter to grab the attention of a younger audience.
Teens spend a lot of time on social media, meaning companies need to attract those users to continue their growth. Twitter makes money by showing targeted ads to users who engage daily on its site.
Shama Hyder, CEO and founder of marketing firm Zen Media, said Twitter's approach is "a little tongue-and-cheek."
"At the same time, they're trying a little too hard to make Twitter cool, edgy and relevant," Hyder said. "This has always been Twitter's challenge, by the way. They have a great platform, but they've never quite known what direction to take it in."
Guy Kawasaki, a former marketing executive at Apple, called Twitter's tweets "pathetic" and "vacuous." Instead, Twitter's corporate account should set the "gold standard" for how to use social media.
"With power comes responsibility," said Kawasaki, who has nearly 1.5 million followers and has been tweeting since 2007. "And when you have the power of [56 million] followers, you would think you would do something useful."
The @Twitter account has tweeted phrases like "Weekends spark joy," "Mmhmmmm," "Awkward," "The" and even nothing. That blank tweet on Nov. 29 was shared more than 61,200 times and garnered more than 222,100 likes. Roughly 15,000 users replied to the tweet.
Taking advantage of the WTF moment, Twitter left it up to users to interpret the tweet, as if it was a work of modern art. "People really related to an empty space," @Twitter said. Some commented on the tweet with remarks like "My bank balance on Monday" and "My soul", and even with a photo of a blank piece of paper.
Twitter is keeping the identity of its tweeters a secret, saying only "a few little birds" tweet from the @Twitter account. Dorsey isn't one of them.
"No one wants 'edit button' shouted at them in the street," @Twitter quipped in an email when I asked why they wanted to stay anonymous. Twitter users often ask the company for a way to edit their tweets.
Peter Wood, group director of the content lab at digital marketing agency 360i, said that with millions of users worldwide, the company has to find some "unifying way" to chat with its audience without excluding users in certain areas. He thinks the tweets are "very light-hearted" and "fun."
"It just seems like they want to play with their audience," Wood said.
Laughter, after all, is universal.
When Twitter tweeted "Hahahahahahahaha," Twitter user @flashbackgray responded with "Can't relate." The Twitter user, who wants to remain anonymous, said in a direct message he wasn't "feeling so good" that day. @Twitter fired back with the cheeky remark "Come back to it later."
Last week, @Twitter tweeted "brb." Users chimed in. Bring back food, poop or some edit buttons, they said. At one point, Twitter said it was grabbing pizza "with no pineapple."
The goal of the @Twitter account is to "spark conversation," according to the company. So far, that seems to be working.
The amount of likes and retweets @Twitter received totaled 5.3 million from Sept. 1 to Jan. 23, up from 449,000 interactions in the preceding five-month period, according to CrowdTangle data. Twitter also said the number of replies to its tweets has grown 14 times.
Dre Ronayne, a 23-year-old YouTuber from Los Angeles, changed her Twitter name to "hey there Drelilah" after she traveled to New York for work.
Ronayne's tweet and her username was a nod to the song Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's.
"What's it like there?," @Twitter asked, referencing lyrics from the song. "Wish you weren't a thousand miles away," she responded with the next line of the song.
At first, Ronayne was taken aback because she didn't follow the @Twitter account. She also didn't use the @ sign to alert the company about her tweet. Still, Twitter's response gave her a good laugh.
"I just found it really funny that they understood the joke in my tweet," she said. "and went along with it."
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