Twitter – The End Game?


Twitter, Twitter on the Net, Who is the Most Popular of All?

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:

Real-Time Event Search, News, and Marketing

Real-Time Event Search
Not even Google can keep track of all the webpages and other text-based updates that are happening on the web and around the world. Using that magic # or $ or @ tag helps to find lots of info fast and in real-time. I remember the speaking at a conference last year and mentioned that Twitter was the first and eyewitness accounts of the rare earthquake that took place in the middle of the United States. Twitter was also helping in the recent earthquakes in Italy and the terror attacks in India. Since this is all User Generated Content (UGC) there are no filters or measure of accuracy, but consensus of various people saying the same thing, at least it can raise eyebrows. Be wary though of the Groupthink scenarios where people believe that if it’s on the Internet, then it must be true. The same fate could happen to Twitter, for example, if people started a conspiracy that a non-event happened, the media and lots of people could be fooled into thinking that it really happened. And given the current model, I’m sure if that can be prevented.

Real-Time News
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.

Real-Time Marketing
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.

Final Thoughts
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.

Mobile, search, social networking, twitter, txt