Friday, May 16

Why Twitter Matters

If Business Week says so it must be so, right?

Quite rightly calling Twitter the "microblogging rage," BW also acknowledges the inescapable "drivel." It's true -- as a lifestreaming-leaning medium, there's plenty of noise (even without considering the Twam.) Plenty of very interesting people have unfortunately unfollowed me due to my own loquacious use of the service.

More importantly, BW touches on some of the bottom line, business-relevant facts of Twitter. Traffic has blown up. Major corporations are using it to enhance their relationship with their customers (Comcast, H&R Block, Hormel) and increase sales (Dell). A rich ecology of third party apps thrives on top of it.

BW also touches on a topic near and dear to the hearts of all Twitterers -- the not-infrequent service outages. Some have blamed this on Twitter's Ruby on Rails platform; the recent departure of chief architect Blaine Cook, Ruby evangelist extraordinaire, has left the question of technological direction wide open.

Twitter's major backer right now is Union Square Ventures; you can find partner Fred Wilson on Twitter daily. With a history of investments including (acquired by Yahoo!) and Feedburner (acquired by Google for ~$100 million USD) and a current portfolio including Etsy and tumblr, you have to think these guys have this thing down.

That said, BW brings up that other favorite Twitter topic -- monetization. What's the model for a microblogging service? The new Japanese-localized Twitter is experimenting with advertising. With the incredible number of third party apps, you'd have to think Twitter begs to go freemium. But the question remains: what the heck IS Twitter worth?

Twitter isn't a fad. It isn't just a trendy toy. It's a tool and a platform that adds value to any business that needs to communicate, whether that's with a community, with clients, with partners, with suppliers or with talent. Twitter is here to stay.

UPDATE: Excellent traffic stats and analysis available at the Compete blog.

Some highlights:


Michael O'Neill said...

Twitter is a fad. I'm putting a reminder in my calendar for one year from today to come back to this url and post "I told you so".

Andrew Badera said...

I happily await 5/17/2009. :)

How shall we gauge fad vs. success? Number of subscribers? Traffic rankings? The huge pile of money Fred Wilson puts in his pocket? The Porsche Alex Payne will be driving?

Michael O'Neill said...

How to decide?

Lots of people drive fancy cars based on getting rich on fads, but that doesn't mean they aren't fads. Fads generate lots of traffic, so that really doesn't mean anything one way or another.

I'm comfortable with the simple criteria that you will agree that it is a fad, or you won't.

I am saying *you* will #1 not using Twitter, and #2 will think it is/was a fad.

Andrew Badera said...

With at least one caveat:

If Twitter is wholly subsumed by another service, I may no longer use it, but I think such acquisition would be pretty strong indication Twitter is something more than a fad.

Michael O'Neill said...

What's up with that first graph? It makes it look like there's a meaningful difference between .01% and .03% of my time...c'mon that's BS.

The graph on age does support to some degree my fad assertion. When 30-somethings start using something, then it ain't a fad.

Clever Idea Widgetry said...

You were right and I was wrong. I think FriendFeed will disappear long before Twitter.