Twitter now officially next big thing

In the last week I’ve had about 50 people add me on Twitter – and surprisingly most of them are people in know IRL!!!11

And then Rove went and talked about it on Sunday, and the bloggers have been talking about it for the past 9 months … and then ad agency people and strategists start going on about it and the momentum becomes rather compelling.

Twitter is in 2009 what myspace was in 2004 and Facebook was in 2007 … a tool with strong momentum that most don’t immediately understand.

Me, I’ve been on Twitter since May of 2007. Back then I followed about 10 people (Dave Whittle, Andrew Pascoe, Cathy Edwards, some sketchy IT nerd types that ranted about PT and other rubbish) and I kind of didn’t see the wow.

2 years on I’m not sure I have anymore clarity. Still, the rush from the experts that it will change the world seems eerily familiar. I guess I’ve used it most days for the past 2 years so it must play some role in my life … mainly as an outlet for my inane observations or broadcasts about peak hour traffic or delayed planes.

If you look at myspace and facebook – both of these tools were going to change the game advertising wise and I’m not alone in saying that no one has really used either particularly well. Myspace relies heavily on straight display advertising and has dabbled in some interesting content areas. Facebook is similar but without the cool content creation.

I find it interesting there’s so much chatter about Twitter, when a service like Facebook has 5m+ AU users every month and seems much more commercial friendly if someone can crack a way of creating ads that are entertaining and relevant. Should we be looking closer at Facebook? Sure, it’s not the freshest thing but as a service it’s pretty essential for users right now.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Twitter – it’s interesting. It has real potential within search and its immediacy is appealing as a user. As a business it seems strong – low overheads, low operating cost, simplicity etc … it’s not a bloated startup cliche like a Digg or Slide … it’s lean and product focused.

Much like Evan Williams previous success, Blogger, which Google purchased.

I guess one thing we need to consider is twitter will probably ultimately need to look to an advertising model to ensure its longevity. And how will users respond to this? And how will it integrate brand messages – and will it be effective.

Right now there’s so much talk about Twitter being a fantastic CRM channel – however the examples used are few and far between (please don’t tell me about Zappos or Dell, find some new ones). Lets also not forget that Myspace was hailed as an amazing CRM channel (and still is for bands/entertainers, not so much for brands) and Facebook apps were wheeled out by most creatives in early 2008 as a great way of ‘connecting users to your brand’ and getting feedback etc.

It’s not enough for Twitter to build a loyal, large scale community. Why? There’s no shortage of these online anymore? They’re all over the place.

John Battelle is saying Google need to buy Twitter and maybe he is right.
“What’s the most important and quickly growing form of search on the web today? Real time, conversational search. And who’s the YouTube of real time search? Yep. Twitter. It’s an asset Google cannot afford to not own, and also, one they most likely do not have the ability (or brand permission) to build on their own. (Remember, Google tried to build its own YouTube – Google Video – and it failed to get traction. A service like Twitter is community driven, and Google has never been really great at that part of the media business). ”

This makes some sense as Google is amazing at monetising search and perhaps could make money from Twitter. It would need further investigation however.

How many high paying credit card advertisers would want to run next to this –

Home loans –

Flights –

Insurance –

Remember, a lot of Google’s revenue comes from products and services that are far from interesting to those who aren’t in market. Right now you’d be imagining Google would be thinking a lot harder than they were a few years ago about what this could add to the bottom line.

Maybe Twitters value is as an insights tool – becoming a supplier of data to commercial partners? Maybe. It has the advantage of being immediate … which is often the issue with data (ie it’s out of date before it’s even been published)

Who knows? Not me … but I think there needs to be a bit more thought around it.


3 responses to “Twitter now officially next big thing

  1. Adam Spencer on ABC radio discovered Twitter on Monday and has turned it into a sports contest with fellow presenter Richard Glover over the number of followers each has. While ABC radio won’t have quite the same reach as Rove (and I suspect a very different audience), you can expect even more media chatter about it now.

    The bit that caught my attention is that I now have a 9 year old and a 7 year old talking endlessly about Twitter without having seen what it looks like. I suspect they might be underwhelmed when they get a look at it but it might also be the next big thing for the primary school set.



  2. I think one issue of the Twitter explosion is that marketers are only interested in what the platform can do on a revenue level.

    For most of the users, however, I assume it’d be more about social interaction.

    So hearing about it on Rove, etc, hypes the platform up, but maybe for people who will use it from the social perspective.

    There are external revenue models in the form of APIs that include ads in exchange for a free service (ala Twe2 and Twitterific), but outside of that, I get the feeling that the company’s rev model will be just as overhyped and underwhelming as it will be for the kids under 10 using the service.

  3. I honestly can’t see any long-term value. Like Aaron mentioned, a good percentage of people using the service now are there for social interaction reasons, and given the fickleness of social networking sites, I would wonder how quickly people would be to jump ship when their once-free (in both membership costs and advertising) service is now rife with ad companies and paid services.

    The one obvious way to monetise it in any way that would make financial sense would be to set up a subscription pyramid, where the more you pay, the more features and less ads, and the free services will continue as normal, but be littered with Adsense type advertising

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