Friday, July 31, 2009

Response to 'Time for a Twitter Reality Check'

In response to a question around 'Time for a Twitter Reality Check' asked in LinkedIn I wrote the following (you may want to have a look at the original article first):

I look at Twitter as a startup with huge potential, like Google or Facebook were a few years ago. Personally I use Twitter as a marketing channel to bring people to my website and blog. Some make direct money of this by generating enough traffic to their blogs to be attractive for AdSense to place ads. Others are looking for jobs and find offerings, or they can attract recruiters to their CV / LinkedIn / Xing / Viadeo / Hi5 webpage. Still others get user feedback and support requests (like Dell). Or they distribute coupons, 'secret passwords', promotions like Starbucks and generate massive physical traffic to their outlets. Some use it to attract people to their Craigslist ad extending reach. CNN and many other media bring traffic to their websites and news channels. The British and Swiss Government use it to distribute information about events, politics and legislation. Churches distribute bible verses. etc. etc. So there are many faces and uses of Twitter.

You can't really say that users are only interesting if they're active. It is the normal business model for broadcasters to have passive users and still they make money out of the business model (news or entertainment against suffering commercials). Similar for 'gurus' and celebrities who give some little stuff or nice words to their fans. The user activity lies in consuming the information, just like reading a newspaper. Listening to the global chat. And sometimes this becomes very active like during the Iran elections, where even the White House asked Twitter not to interrupt the service, as it gave voice to the Iranian opposition (and channels to CIA and NSA, probably).

Is no one 'using' (what do you mean by 'using') it? Have a look at Alexa stats: yesterday 3.45% of Internet visitors (most from US) used Twitter (Google: 34.35%; MSN: 11.69% sinking; Facebook: 21.93%; AOL: 2.34%). With this Twitter is on rank 15 of the top sites accoring to Alexa. Not bad. No one??

'Using' for evil? NO. Most 'users' are listeners, spectators, consumers. Personally I've found huge value and insights from using Twitter. I found stuff and made connections with interesting people I didn't know about 5 months ago, and I'm a rather senior guy.

Numbers lie? You trust Nielsen? Have a look here . 3712 pc year on year growth in the top 10 social networking and blog sites list.

And just thin of the combination potential if Twitter did join forces with Amazon, Goole, CNN, Facebook or whatever. Does Twitter as a company have a value? Yes? Well, the founders already founded Blogger and sold it to Google. Why would anyone want to buy it? Think.

Ok, nuf 4 now. Sure, I do agree with some of what you say, BUT, I'd advise not to underestimate the power of Twitter. I think it will become or already is a major force on the web. And the potential is by far not exploited. Creative firms and users have found and will find ways to build new businesses, marketing approaches, distribution models based on Twitter.

What do you think?