Revolutionary Measures

Twitter grows up, leaves puberty……

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Like many people I always thought of Twitter as the open source version of social media. A bit ramshackle, held together with bits of string and the goodwill of its users and ecosystem. Amateur compared to the slick marketing machines of Facebook and Google and more attractive because of it. If social media was a family, Twitter would be the younger brother playing in the corner.

Part of this was due to the lack of an obvious business model – Twitter had the users but the open ecosystem meant that how you accessed the service was very much up to you.

The last year has seen Twitter grow up rapidly though. First it bought Tweetdeck and tightened up its API to give it greater control. Then it launched promoted tweets (essentially ads) and touted the platform’s ability to provide helpdesk and customer service functionality. All of this has been underwritten by fundraising, leading to having, in the technical words of CEO Dick Costoloa truckload of money in the bank’.

User numbers have continued to rocket to 200 million, crossing the chasm to become mainstream – driven by both a desire to communicate and to follow celebrities, especially around topics such as the Ryan Giggs superinjunction. Next on the agenda is improving measurement for businesses, and so it has just launched web analytics for the platform.

All good stuff and part of becoming more mature – no more little boy, now a thrusting twenty something executive to carry on my family analogy. But growing up comes with risks. What people were happy to put up with in the early days of Twitter, such as outages, spambots, privacy and the like simply don’t cut it anymore. And Twitter is finding out that while politicians will laud it as a platform for free speech when it comes to helping bring down dictators, they start getting cold feet when it comes to matters closer to home, such as the UK riots and terrorism.

Consequently the next year is critical for Twitter – can it evolve and grow without alienating existing users, or will it lose its youthful zip and move straight to middle aged spread?


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September 16, 2011 - Posted by | Marketing, Social Media

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