After the CNN (@cnnbrk) versus Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) race to 1 million Followers, and today’s first tweets from Oprah (@oprah), where is Twitter headed?
For one thing, this platform or medium has rapidly gone from Early Adopter to Mainstream in a shorter amount of time than even Facebook. The Media has been keeping up with lots of blogs and now tweets. Facebook boasts 200M subscribers, and Twitter has only percentage of that. But the growth trends for the micro-blogging service have been explosive and people are find this to be an incredible social medium. A lot of speculation has gone around about how this company will make money and start making returns on all that venture investment.
Here are my thoughts on the eventual Twitter model:
Recently there has been a lot of talk about Newspapers vanishing and other media outlets not able to keep pace with rising costs of production and creation of a publication. In this instance, I believe we are in the Race to Zero. Indeed lots of rather credible people can make a decent living and report news and events just as easily as the traditional press, but occasionally may question the rigor and depth of reporting. I remember my High School Journalism class and how the fear of Yellow Journalism would threaten the media then and how much is has denigrated the media now. But I also find it hard to not easily digest News in 140 character sound bites with a follow on link to an article, picture or video. I feel that I can actually scan the news faster and find greater relevancy on things that I want to know more about.
But I would still compliment this style of news with an RSS Reader.
All the aspects of marketing: branding, marketing reach, polling, and hopefully direct actionable feedback and audience engagement can be accomplished. But how long will it take for Madison Avenue and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) to realize the world of direct audience engagement using mobile, potentially through twitter? I recall my interview with a friend who worked at Clorox.
This is what I proposed: If I gave you a mobile channel to push ads or even coupons that were slightly higher in cost per customer for acquisition costs, but I could guarantee a higher chance that the customer would either buy you product or give you feedback about a commercial or the product itself, would you be interested?
The response was: If I did that, I wouldn’t know what to do with the information. That’s not how it works, we are about Focus Groups, and Broadcasting to our audience against demographics and media that fits where we want to go. We also don’t have access to a lot of that information since it’s typically the retailers like Walmart, Target, Safeway, etc who own that information – we only get sales figures by store, region and channel. Depressing!
But maybe if someone is willing to experiment, they might be able to see that something like twitter could be viable to reach consumers in a powerful way.
While this post might be another article about what twitter should do for a business model, I’m also pointing out two things. There is a need to mature new technologies faster in order to get them into mainstream and build sustainable businesses. The second is that wireless technology can be a powerful tool to enable mobility and user engagement like never before.
Lastly, a quote that has stuck in my head for over 10 years: Knowledge is not absolute; its pursuit is unending.