Back in January of this year I signed up for a Twitter account. I have to admit I was skeptical. Why does anyone need to know what I am doing right now? I wrote a blog about how silly I thought it was. Then after playing around with Twitter for about five months I wrote another blog about how it had the potential for becoming a platform for innovation. So, clearly, I had changed my mind. I began to see that something here was more interesting than what I had assumed.
Well, now a few months later I would like to report that I have been getting deeper and deeper into my Twitter research and I have some new conclusions that I would like to share. Here are the five conclusions I have come to about why Twitter is important:
Number One. The water cooler effect. As a technology industry analyst I really enjoy connecting with other analysts. It is especially helpful when a bunch of us are at an industry analyst meeting and we can exchange impressions in real time about what speakers are really saying. When colleagues are at a meeting I am not attending, I get a vicarious real time impression about the meeting without being there in person! It is amazing what you learn from only 140 characters. I have found that the companies we analyst are twittering about eagerly follow what we say about them and their competitors.
Number Two. Connecting to the political world. During this election season, I have connected to many of the candidates, pundants, and journalists Twitter links. They often will provide links to articles and commentary that I never would have thought to look at – and I probably would never have known that they existed. I also took the opportunity to send direct messages to some candidates. I’m sure they never read what I said but it made me feel better. (Some candidates removed the ability to send a direct message after a while). I have noticed that a number of cable news reporters are now using Twitter to connect to people about specific issues they researching. It can definitely be a good reality check for these guys.
Number Three. Connecting to people in the computer industry. I have connected with executives and technologists that I haven’t been in touch with in a while. Sometimes, I have sent messages to set up a new meeting just based on seeing them make a statement about something happening in their company. It isn’t a substitute for other communications methods — traditional email, etc. but it is handy.
Number Four. The reach of the platform. Twitter, like other social networking platforms has created a range of related services — some that add better interfaces and there are lots. Here is a link to Todd Ogasawara’s blog that lists lots of them.
Number Five. Twitter will need a revenue based model at some point. Where’s the business model? This is something I haven’t figured out yet. How will Twitter make money? Are they planning what I call a Google Sneak Attack? Is there a plan to create an advertising model or new SaaS software model built on the base platform?
Clearly Twitter has momentum and some buzz right now. Will it last? I think some of that depends on how well the company does at working on scalability, partnerships, and figuring out a business model. Semantic search is something they desperately need. I could envision Twitter evolving to create specific applications for companies that want to set up real time feedback with customers and partners. I’ll keep working with Twitter — I enjoy the interaction (when I have time).