A quoi sert Twitter ?

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A quoi sert Twitter ?
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12/04/2009 Pierre Guillery http://www.deannazandt.com/2009/03/02/why‐twitter‐anyways/c Why Twitter anyways? 2 March 2009 Twitter is a service that functions like a giant bulletin board where anyone can stick a short note — 140 characters or less. These posts are called "tweets." You can choose to read other people's tweets (called "following" them), and other people can choose to read yours (these are your "followers"). Some people choose to keep their tweets private, and approve each request to be "followed." The most basic way to use Twitter is via the website, where a list of everyone's tweets appears once you log in. If you belong to Facebook, it's similar to the home screen there (aka, the "news feed")– which features a list of your friends' recent activities. The main difference between the two services is that while all your friends' activities appear in your news feed (though this is tweakable; another post on that another day), only people you choose to follow appear in your Twitter feed. There are two main groups of twitterers, and I want to address them separately — individuals tweeting on their own behalf, and organizations and business who are on Twitter. There's some overlap, for sure, but have their own ends for which Twitter is the means. INDIVIDUALS: I AM TWEETING, HEAR ME ROAR Or purr, if that's the case. Many people are on Twitter for some pretty basic reasons: • Conversations. Twitter, as I mentioned in my beginner's guide, is a two‐way street with many lanes going in both directions. Everyone has the opportunity not just to express what they're thinking/feeling/doing at any given moment, but to respond to what others are thinking/feeling/doing. I like to think of it as a water cooler in the break room, where I stop in periodically and see what people are talking about. This is especially helpful for freelancers, web workers and other folks who aren't in traditional work environments. It gives us support and creates community. • Expertise. People love to get and share advice on Twitter. It's a great place to receive quick, immediate feedback on an idea, put out a link to a new blog post or article, or advertise yourself as a leader in your field. • News. Lots of media organizations now have Twitter accounts, and use them to automatically publish links to new stories as they become available. Many people find it convenient to get breaking news there — and to report it themselves. More individuals are now using Twitter to provide eye‐witness accounts and to point out what's missing from the news coverage. Both the Hudson River landing and the Dutch crash were first reported by everyday people on Twitter. • Stay connected with friends. Our so‐called digital lives, yes indeed! Twitter is a great way to peek at what your friends and colleagues are up to. This certainly doesn't mean you have to be 2 responsible for reading every tweet (see my post on Twitter overload), but it's a great way to casually be aware of what's happening with folks you care about. • Share interests & find others who share them. Are you a locavore? Would you love to share that passion with other locavores? Twitter makes it easy to find and follow others– check out the search function and use "hash tags" (see the beginner's guide for the how‐to) to track conversations and topics of interest. ORGANIZATIONS: IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN OUTREACH Sure, you can push out information all you want, but there are a lot of other ways for organizations to connect with their constituencies: • Spread the word, connect the dots. There's the obvious — post your own news and events — but there's also huge value in giving your followers related info. If you're an environmental organization, don't just send out press releases from your own group. Use Twitter to link to articles relevant to your work, as well as share links to sister organizations. • Have conversations with your community. Have I mentioned that Twitter is a two‐way street? There's a fantastic opportunity for organizations to listen as well as talk, on a very direct level. It's a great tool for organizing as well as providing customer service. • Give your work a human voice. Prior to tools like Facebook and Twitter, it was hard to make the work we all do at the organizational level feel personal and real. Take this opportunity to let your humanity shine through, and don't sound like a robot when you're tweeting for your org. Twitter is more about connecting humans to humans. A LITTLE STORY This is one of my favorite, illustrative moments in for how Twitter humanizes our digital interactions: Last fall, I was visiting my parents after participating at a media symposium at Ithaca College. My mother knows I have a thing for shoes, so while we were shopping, she decided to mess with me. We were at a store with rows and rows of discounted awesomeness, and she called across several aisles, "Come look at these! Should I get them?" I was greeted by a blinding set of cream‐colored, bejeweled, pointy‐toed, gold‐stilletoed boots on my fashion‐conservative mother. We fell over with laughter, and I sent this picture to Twitter with the question, "Should my mom buy these boots?" (Best response came from @rit, who said, "That depends. Is your mother Dolly Parton?"). A few days later, I was on the phone with Pete Leyden to discuss a potential project. We played phone tag for a few days while I was traveling, and I was excited to finally hear what the project was about. "Before I get into it, though," Pete said, "I need to know: Did your mom buy the boots?" It was one of those moments that allowed this entirely personal — but not necessarily intimate or vulnerable — connection between me and a potential client. We had a great laugh over it. Following me on Twitter gave him a fairly rounded picture of the type of person I am, and it let me know that he's appreciative of the level of silliness that often invades my brain. It humanized each of us in what otherwise is a connection governed entirely by ones and zeros. 3 http://www.mediassociaux.com/2009/03/20/dis‐papa‐cest‐quoi‐twitter/ Dis Papa, c’est quoi Twitter ? 20 mars 2009 Cette question, certains d’entre vous qui n’utilisent pas ce service se la pose sûrement : quel est l’intérêt d’un outil permettant d’envoyer de courts messages publiquement à d’autres personnes ? Effectivement dur de résumer, si l’on présente Twitter que du côté fonctionnel et non du côté de l’usage qu’il permet. Alors, certes peut être parle‐t‐on trop de Twitter comme le pointait Fred dernièrement et que certains n’hésitent pas à faire un parallèle du point de vue du buzz généré, entre Twitter et Second Life ( Twitter is this year’s Second Life), mais si plus de personnes parlaient plutôt de l’usage et des opportunités ( Quelle utilisation une entreprise peut‐elle faire de Twitter ?) que permet des outils comme Twitter, plutôt que juste de la courbe de croissance de Twitter, (certes +1382% en 1 an) cela permettrait à beaucoup d’y voir plus clair dans cette masse d’information. Je me suis donc prêté à un petit exercice qui allie pour une fois le fond et la forme : vous présenter Twitter en 10 tweets (messages de 140 caractères). Twitter, outil de microblogging ? outil de veille ? outil de communication ? Voyons quelques usages en quelques tweets… 1. Twitter vous permet de diffuser rapidement une information auprès des contacts qui vous suivent : article, petite annonce, question… 2. Twitter vous permet d’échanger simplement avec les autres utilisateurs, publiquement ou de manière privée. 3. Twitter peut être utilisé au sein d’une entreprise pour permettre aux collaborateurs d’échanger entre eux et de partager des informations. 4. Twitter vous permet de suivre un fil de discussion autour d’un thème, d’un événement… et peut alors être un formidable outil de veille. 5. Twitter vous permet de rechercher parmi les discussions l’information que vous souhaitez et de rentrer en contact avec son auteur. 6. Twitter vous permet de pouvoir suivre l’actualité des stars ou des entreprises : @LaRedouteFR, @BarakObama. 7. Twitter vous permet de diffuser des offres commerciales exclusives : ventes privées… 8. Twitter a déjà permis à Dell de se faire comme cela plus d’1 million de $ en 2008. 9. Twitter n’est pas Facebook, Twitter n’est pas Google, mais sera le prochain outil dont vous entendrez souvent parler. 10. Twitter c’est l’activity stream” et le “real time search” et nul doute que Google s’y intéresse et s’intéresse de près à Twitter. 4 http://blog.netpolitique.net/index.php/2009/03/30/843‐politiques‐sur‐twitter‐liste‐et‐conseils‐pour‐gazouiller‐sans‐fausses‐notes 8 conseils aux politiques pour gazouiller sans fausses notes 30 mars 2009 1. TWITTER N'EST PAS UNE STRATEGIE Non, twitter n'est pas une stratégie , c'est un outil. L'effet Obama est malheureusement passé par la création d'un mythe, ou plutôt d'un fantasme autour de twitter (voir @BarackObama ): un nouvel Eldorado pour "donner rendez‐vous à mille personnes en même temps sans dépenser un seul centime", ou miraculeusement permettre "aux politiques de se rapprocher de leurs électeurs", voire même de se passer de journalistes... Vous devez cependant définir par avance ce que vous allez publier car se lancer aveuglément sur Twitter pour répondre à la pression médiatique entraînera forcément des incohérences : définissez une ligne éditoriale, un ton, ce que vous pouvez ou ne pouvez pas dire, les évènements que vous pourrez "couvrir" pour vos followers ou les petites exclusivités que vous pourrez leur offrir. 2. TWITTER EST LE MEDIA DU OFF Expérimenter Twitter, c'est marcher sur un fil : entre privé et public, entre ce qui est personnel et ce qui l'est trop. Il est important de personnaliser le contenu à chaque plateforme investie, ne faites donc pas de Twitter un simple outil "en plus" servant à la diffusion de vos billets ou articles. N'oubliez‐
pas que Twitter est utile pour instaurer une relation de proximité forte avec ses "followers", n'hésitez pas à leur délivrer des informations inédites ; pour les informations officielles, nous avons déjà les dépêches de l'AFP et le site dont l'adresse est affichée sur votre profil. Twitter est aussi une manière de dévoiler une partie de vous même parfois occultée et masquée dans les medias traditionnels : du tweet intimiste (@benoithamon : suis archi gaga de la petite créature de 70 cm qui me regarde en rigolant) au tweet surprenant (@benoithamon Plus fort que le PS, la FFF!), Benoit Hamon est d'ailleurs devenu un spécialiste du genre souvent cité comme exemple par ses pairs twitters. Michel Barnier l'a également expérimenté en twittant pendant une entrevue avec Rachida Dati, "@michelbarnier : chez elle, dans le 7ème arrondissement". Toutefois, méfiez vous des dérapages, et du fameux "Effet Duhamel" : en novembre 2006, à l'occasion d'une intervention devant les Jeunes UDF de Sciences‐Po Paris, le journaliste avait, au détour d'une phrase, révélé qu'il voterait pour François Bayrou. La séquence fut filmée, et conservée comme il se doit bien au chaud pendant quelques mois, avant d'être publiée en 2007 sur dailymotion, provoquant un concert de récriminations contre l'éditorialiste. Ici, ce que vous dîtes est lu et décortiqué instantanément par des exégètes de tous poils. Pire encore ce que vous dites est enregistré dans la mémoire froide d'internet et peut être retourné contre vous à tout moment (Relax, don't worry, be happy /‐) : non seulement Google référence de mieux en mieux les tweets, mais il existe aussi les moteurs de recherche du type twitter search ou Tweleted, qui eux‐même enregistrent les tweets 5 publiés par précipitation ou inadvertance. Malgré leur suppression, ces messages malheureux restent gravés à jamais sur l'autel des tweets qui hantent nos nuits. Twitter bénéficie d'une aura médiatique importante et ce que vous y dites peut rapidement se retourner contre vous. N'oubliez pas que de nombreux journalistes qui travaillent pour les rédactions online de journaux y sont 3. LE LIVE, ESSENCE DE TWITTER Un vrai twitterer vous deviendrez, quand SMS vous enverrez. Alors que différentes expériences de conférence de presse online ont été tentées à l'étranger (voir par exemple "Le consulat israélien aux USA qui organise une conférence de presse sur Twitter" ), nos politiques français restent gentiment confinés derrière leur ordinateur sans prendre le risque de s'exposer aux questions des méchants utilisateurs et cela est fort regrettable, car beaucoup de monde serait assez preneur d'une "journée avec" depuis le Salon de l'Agriculture ou d'une conférence de presse Live depuis le Ministère des Finances ;‐). La mise à jour via SMS marche toujours : risquez‐vous au livetwitting ! vous entrerez davantage dans une logique de fidélisation 4. ON EST JAMAIS MIEUX SERVI QUE PAR SOI‐MEME (DE L'IMPORTANCE DU "YOU" DANS LE "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?") Il n'y a rien de pire que de voir un tweet signé par "l'équipe de campagne de" : @gillespargnieux : Gilles Pargneaux est bien candidat et pas député, l'erreur d'arrière plan est bien rectifiée :‐) l'équipe Gilles Pargneaux signait‐on sur son profil. Quand le reste des tweets est à la première personne du singulier, il y a de quoi douter de la réelle prise en main de l'outil. Si vous n'avez pas le temps de l'animer, n'ouvrez pas de compte ou soyez transparent ! Certains s'y réussissent très bien sur d'autres supports (cf. Nathalie kosciusko‐Morizet sur Facebook ). Que cela soit dit une fois pour toute, se servir de twitter comme une simple extension de son blog n'est pas une stratégie couronnée de succès. En atteste le cas de Gérard Collomb, Maire de Lyon : alors que son blog est un vrai canal d'information sur lequel il n'hésite pas à pousser coups de gueule et monter frondes, son twitter @gerardcollomb est paradoxalement d'une mollesse telle qu'il affaiblit le paysage online (pourtant intéressant comme on le verra dans un prochain billet) du Maire de lyon : il semble qu'il existe une différence fondamentale entre son blog et son twitter : le premier est tenu par lui‐même, tandis que l'autre doit être animé de ci de là par un étudiant sciences‐po en stage à la Mairie de Lyon. 5. OUVRIR UN FIL, C'EST BIEN, L'ANIMER C'EST MIEUX Deux sous‐règles prédominent dans cette 5ème rubrique : appliquez vous à publier régulièrement, et dites non, non, non, mille fois non aux monologues ! > Publiez régulièrement 6 Le lancement timide de certains comptes politiques peut prêter à confusion. Rien de grave, mais il aura fallu attendre plusieurs jours avant que le politique se mette vraiment dans le bain, alors que toute la twittosphère se demandait si son compte était un vrai ou pas. Les hésitations, sûrement dues à des absurdes cycles de validation des tweets, peuvent immiscer un doute néfaste dans la tête des leaders d'opinion online : @lucchatel : découvre twitter (9 mars) et puis @lucchatel : se lance sur twitter (le 13 mars). Depuis, plus rien... @gillespargnieux : est heureux de découvrir twitter ... Préférez une entrée en matière pleine d'assurance en préparant une dizaine de tweets à l'avance, sauf si évidemment l'objectif est d'abord de faire du bruit en jouant sur l'effet de surprise : une entrée énigmatique vous assurera presque à coup sûr un billet de la rédaction du Post /‐) > Dites non aux monologues Twitter est un outil "plastique", malléable, dont la simplicité multiplie les formes d'expression et d'interaction : "Le microblogue est un outil parfait pour diffuser, pour échanger de façons différentes, pour interroger, pour questionner, pour obtenir de la rétroaction et même pour couvrir des évènements. Le succès réside dans un savant mélange de toutes ces opportunités. En choisir une seule, c’est se passer à côté de l’aventure", dixit le québécois Eric Noël. En conséquence le monologue doit être banni, et en particulier le monologue du type "agenda en ligne", véritable plaie du twitter politique ces dernières semaines. Vous n'obtiendrez absolument aucune interaction avec vos internautes en publiant des informations aussi froides que : @laurentfabius : Dernière minute: je serai l'invité de Laurent Bazin sur i‐Télé demain matin (mercredi 25 mars) à 8h30 (rediffusion à 9h30) ; @michelbarnier : Avec Nicolas Sarkozy dans le Maine‐et‐Loire, pour annoncer un nouveau modèle agricole français. Il est cependant légitime de raconter le quotidien, mais avec une once d'expérience personnelle c'est toujours mieux. Par exemple : @kaderarif : boit un verre de lait sur la place du Capitole à Toulouse, en solidarité avec les producteurs laitiers indépendants de la région 6. "REPLY" ET "RETWEETS", REGLES DE COURTOISIE Le retweet (la reprise d'une information provenant d'un autre utilisateur, qui s'écrit "RT @pseudo le message intéressant") est une sorte de monnaie sociale : retwitter une personne permet de montrer à votre communauté que vous approuvez telle ou telle déclaration ou qu'une information que vous jugez intéressante mérite d'être partagée. C'est aussi une façon de valoriser vos fidèles lecteurs qui sauront vous rendre la pareille le moment venu. Le "reply" (la réponse) est également une preuve de votre investissement et de votre capacité à répondre rapidement à une question. Cela vous permettra également de tisser des cyber‐liens avec d'autres politiques présents sur la plateforme (cf. Michel Barnier via Twitter : "je souhaite la bienvenue @laurentwauquiez au Salon de l'Agriculture"). 7. UTILISER TWITTER COMME OUTIL DE VEILLE DE L'ACTUALITE CHAUDE Aucun politique d'opposition n'a su se saisir du débat anti‐Hadopi qui a eu lieu sur twitter via le canal #hadopi . Pourtant il y avait là une opportunité de communication intéressante à saisir avec un simple tweet hashtagé #hadopi . En passant, les hashtags sont une petite astuce pour mettre en valeur les thématiques que vous abordez dans vos tweets et pour permettre à vos followers de retrouver les 7 précédentes déclarations. Si vous n'être pas sur Twitter, pensez tout de même à utiliser les moteurs de recherche spécialisés pour surveiller ce que l'on dit de vous, cela vous permettra d'éviter quelques mauvaises surprises ou d'avoir à vous justifier sur votre non‐utilisation de l'outil en cas de "fakes" (comme ce fut le cas pour Martine Aubry ou Olivier Besancenot ). 8. NE VERSEZ PAS DANS LE "SPAM SOCIAL" La "replycité" plutôt que la réciprocité : Twitter, à la différence de Facebook, repose sur l'idée de non réciprocité ou d'ajout sélectif : si un utilisateur me suit sur Twitter, je ne suis pas obligé de le suivre. Sus à l'auto‐following déshumanisé et contre‐poductif de conversation, préférez plutôt un following par étape reply‐follow : un follower vous fait un "reply", vous engagez la conversation avec lui par reply, il s'en sentira valorisé. Il sera alors temps de le suivre pour l'envoyer au 7ème ciel de la twitter‐
glorification (peut‐être même se vantera t‐il en clamant @Monsieur X me follow, cool !). Cela démontrera un intérêt réel pour le dialogue et la conversation avec ses followers, et les "oubliés" qui vous feront un @reply apparaitront tout de même dans l'onglet du même nom. Ajouter des amis en masse vous fera certainement grimper dans les tops mais privilégiez le qualitatif au quantitatif. http://blog.domramsey.com/tech/why‐twitter‐sucks/ Why Twitter sucks… but will succeed anyway 25 March 2009 If you haven’t heard of twitter then you’ve either been living on another planet for the past few months, or you’re the kind of person that has a life. Unfortunately, I’m neither of the above. Twitter describes itself as “a community of friends and strangers from around the world sending updates about moments in their lives”, but really the best description is a “micro‐blogging” site. You see, unlike a typical blog, twitter wants to know “What are you doing?” 24 hours a day. You have a text box with 140 characters, and the idea is that you give a running commentary of every moment of your life. All messages you send automatically appear on all your “friends’” pages, and all their messages appear on yours. Horrifying, isn’t it? But it gets worse. The thing that makes twitter stand out is that all messages can be sent and received via your favorite instant messenger… or on your mobile phone. So what you end up with is a service that’s half way between a blog and a “group instant messenger”. So why is this so bad? Well it’s partly down to the kind of people that are using the service. You see, twitter is very popular with the geek community on the West Coast, and has kind of spread out from there. So what you see on the site is a combination of techie messages, dot‐com‐geek‐wannabes trying to get noticed and a whole load of stuff that’s so mundane it just makes you wonder why you didn’t spend the last ten minutes doing something constructive instead ‐ like maybe shooting yourself in the head. 8 Call me old fashioned, but I really have no interest in the fact that Leo Laporte is eating his lunch, Cali Lewis is drinking a coffee with Splenda Flavor Blends, or even whose couch Kevin Rose happens to be trowing up on today. You see, unless all your friends are on twitter the noise‐to‐signal ratio on the site is enough to make you want to go out and pull the legs of kittens to relieve the boredom. And that’s why twitter will succeed. Because it only works if all your friends are on it, the only way to have any real fun is to invite them all. Then you can be the one inflicting the tedium on others! Yay! Now this ‘model’ has been used before ‐ and what we ended up with was MySpace. The largest and most pointless thing ever created in the history of humanity. And now twitter is going the same way. For the casual observer though, there’s something a little odd about twitter’s business model. You see, they don’t have any ads ‐ and they let you send and receive updates via text message for free. So how do they expect to make money, let alone stay in business?Simple. Once they reach a critical mass, they’ll start charging for sending text messages. Already, a lot of users are using their phones so they can “stay in touch” while out and about. Many of them are finding they can’t live without twitter on their phone. (Yes, they are sad, sad people.) But imagine twitterers are sending a million messages a day between them (which is easily achievable) and only 5% of those are sent from a phone. Now imagine twitter makes 50 cents from each of those messages. That’s $25,000 a day or $9,125,000 a year in revenue without even trying, with very little required in the name of network resources and a site so basic it hurts just to think about it. What I’d really like to see is a twitter competitor with more functionality and a clearer delineation between real friends and people think they’re cool and somehow get off on telling the whole world every time they go to the toilet. Unfortunately, it may already be too late… http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2008/tc20080514_269697.htm Why Twitter matters 15 May 2008 It's easy to laugh at nonsense on Twitter, the microblogging rage. "My nose is leaking," writes someone called Zapples, "so imma go to sleep now.…" But I've heard lots of similar drivel (and even produced some myself) on the phone—an important technology if there ever was one. The key question today isn't what's dumb on Twitter, but instead how a service with bite‐size messages topping out at 140 characters can be smart, useful, maybe even necessary. Here's why I'm looking. In the last few months, the traffic on Twitter has exploded, growing far beyond its circles of bleeding‐edge tech enthusiasts and hard‐core social networkers. Businesses such as H&R Block (HRB) and Zappos are now using Twitter to respond to customer queries. Market researchers look to it to scope out minute‐by‐minute trends. Media groups are 9 focusing on Twitterers as first‐to‐the‐scene reporters. (They were on top of the May 12 China earthquake within minutes.) Loads of new applications and services are growing around the Twitter platform, leading some to suggest that the microblogging service could become a powerhouse in social media. POPULARITY BRINGS OUTAGES AND FUNDING Twitter has come a long way since its grand debut at the South by Southwest tech conference (BusinessWeek, 4/02/07) only 14 months ago. It quickly landed $5.4 million in venture funding. New crowds learned to communicate in haiku‐length blog posts, even throwing in Web links with abbreviated addresses. They developed new vocabulary, with new verbs, including the all‐important "to tweet." But with Twitter's soaring popularity comes one big problem: All‐too‐frequent outages in a service that seems to be outgrowing its own technology. In the last month, the company has replaced key members of its tech staff, including lead architect, Blaine Cook.. To ramp up, San Francisco‐based Twitter appears to be positioning itself for another round. A Cnet (CNET) report in April said the company is raising $15 million to $20 million. Twitter won't comment on funding, but Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures, an investor in the first round, doesn't deny the rumors. "Where there's smoke, there's fire," he says. WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS So, I set out to delve into Twitter. And on May 8‐9, I looked to Twitter's own community for help, asking the following questions: •
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Is Twitter a fad, a feature, or a growing giant? How are businesses using Twitter? What is Twitter worth? A fourth question, implicit in the whole exercise: Should we all be Twittering? Responses poured in, more than 250 of them, some pure opinion, others furnishing facts and links to blog posts and articles. SOCIAL HABIT Much of the Twittering crowd argues that Twitter will continue to grow in importance, perhaps rivaling other social media powers such as Facebook. "I have hundreds of friends on FB, but have done 10x the networking, connecting & communicating on Twitter," tweets Christian Anderson. Biz Stone, a Twitter co‐founder, tells me on the phone that the plan is for Twitter to grow by a factor of 10, or even 100. "It can become a communication utility," he says, "something people use every day." How could tiny Twitter ever become such a titan? It's not the core technology, which is simple, but instead the community. Twitterers find and follow the people they care about on the service. Late in April, following one of Twitter's outages, TechCrunch's Michael Arrington wrote: "I realized that in the 1
last two months a subtle shift occurred: I now need Twitter more than Twitter needs me." Arrington, who has nearly 17,000 people following his Twitterstream, continued: "It is now an important part of my work and social life, as I carry on bite‐sized conversations with thousands of people around the world throughout the day. It's a huge marketing tool, and information tool. But it is also a social habit that's hard to kick." DEVELOPER‐FRIENDLY It may seem to Arrington that everyone he cares about is Twittering. But despite impressive growth, Twitter's universe is small. Estimates for the Twittering masses range between half a million and one million active users. Even if this undercounts the number of those who post their tweets through cell phones or other sites, Twitter is still pint‐size compared to Facebook, with its 70 million users. And even on Twitter, plenty of people predict that the crowd will abandon the service en masse when something more alluring turns up. "Too flakey, both technology wise and audience—too fickle," tweets one. Still, there are a few reasons why Twitter might endure. First, it's simple and easy to use. What's more, Twitter is weaving itself into larger networks. Most recently a link with News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace will enable users to shuttle data between those sites, eBay (EBAY), and Yahoo! (YHOO). Also, like Facebook, Twitter has a large and vigorous developer community. "It's already a platform, a classic textbook definition," tweets Jonathan Yarmis of AMR Research. David Troy, for example, founder of Roundhouse Technologies in Baltimore, recently launched a geography application called Twittervision, where you can click on a country—say China—and see the tweets as they appear. "We have more local stuff coming," he says. Another application, called Twistori, shows a stream of Twitters showing what people are wishing, feeling, thinking. PROMOTIONAL TWEETS? Businesses, of course, are more interested in what Twitterers are buying. Dataminers like Seattle's Visible Technologies are helping companies such as Hormel Foods (HRL) and Panasonic pore through millions of tweets, finding customers talking about their products. Dell (DELL), a Visible customer, scouts out the tweets and dispatches its Twittering workers to jump into the conversations. At a conference last week, the company claimed to have boosted sales through these efforts by $500,000 in recent months. Lots of other companies are starting to use Twitter for quick customer service. To see whether they were really on the line, we held a race. We sent a tweet. Seven had responded within an hour, led by H&R Block. THE SEARCH FOR VIABILITY One of the last questions we asked: If you could invest in Twitter, would you? It's a key question. To get the funding it needs for its tech upgrade, and perhaps an eventual stock offering, Twitter needs to make a viable business case. If it falls short, Twitter is more likely to wind up as an application in a 1
larger Web company, such as Google (GOOG). The company has launched an advertising program on its site in Japan, but it's "largely experimental," Stone says. Twitterers, of course, have all sorts of ideas about how to monetize the system. Some suggest subscriptions, or perhaps using promotional tweets every once in a while tied to the words in tweets. Stone avoids details. The goal now, he says, is to raise money, nail down the technology, and grow Twitter until it's enormous. Money comes later. But he and the others know that if they wait too long, Twitter risks disappearing into the belly of a competitor or succumbing to copycats. And that's provided that those of us who Twitter so prolifically now are still hooked on 140‐character communications. Stephen Baker is a senior writer for BusinessWeek in New York. http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/10/why‐twitter‐hasnt‐failed‐the‐power‐of‐audience/ Why Twitter hasn’t failed: the power of audience 10 August 2008 Twitter isn’t for everyone, and you may have dismissed the service a long time ago. But regardless of your own use, it’s hard to dismiss the phenomenon itself and the passion of so many that has built up around it. No matter how long the outage du jour, Twitter users continue to stay attached to the service despite an ever‐changing backdrop of alternatives. Blogging isn’t for everyone either. But unlike blogging, Twitter enjoys a far a greater variety of users — they include people, many people, who would never think of starting a blog and people who would never touch an RSS reader. The 140 character limit is a plus for Twitter, but it isn’t all. What explains the Twitter phenomenon then? What produces the positive feeling and the strong attachment among those who tweet? And moreover: How can other systems learn from this? THE ANSWER LIES IN UNDERSTANDING AUDIENCE Twitter has a simple premise: You tweet & the message is pushed to your friends. The actual mechanics are slightly different (messages go to everyone who follows you, whether they’re your “friends” or not, assuming your stream is public) — but from a user’s perspective, the circle of receivers consists only of the people they know. Everyone else is part of a faceless crowd that’s hidden behind the follower count. This simple premise holds the key to Twitter’s success: messages go to a well‐defined audience. In the moment you release a tweet, you know who’s on the line and you have an idea of who can catch a glimpse of your message. @replies are the best illustration for this sense of audience: Even though Twitter is not a point‐to‐point message delivery system (let alone a reliable one), @replies are sent with the understanding that they will be read by the intended people because they are known to be in the audience. (Imagine a newspaper article that suddenly greeted a specific reader.) 1
Blogging on the other hand has no such clearly defined audience. An aspiring blogger who hasn’t crossed the chasm speaks into the void. Direct feedback can only come in the form of written comments (a relatively high barrier of effort) and it’s diminished by spam and vocal trolls these days. FeedBurner’s subscriber count only provides the equivalent of Twitter’s opaque follower count and MyBlogLog didn’t solve this problem either. So it’s not surprising that the majority of blogs are abandoned — the most‐cited reason being “No one was reading it.” No one might be following your Twitter stream either, but Twitter is designed for network effects to take hold and given the natural reciprocity among groups of friends, it’s likely that most people have at least a handful of followers they know. BACK TO TWITTER: WHY AUDIENCE WORKS Twitter works and enjoys such strong attachment because it provides real‐time access to a well‐
defined audience. The backlog of all previous tweets is a guarantee of permanence (you can even search it) and you can catch up on it anytime. As a result, people use Twitter because they have an idea of who will see their lightweight messages and this sense of audience is reinforced by @replies, re‐tweets and references in future conversations (online and offline). Designing for the sense of Audience is a powerful tool to create cohesion and a sense of utility among users of a service. This lesson from Twitter can apply to many other services too. But before leaving the current discussion, it’s helpful to look at a service that has missed the full power of Audience so far. FACEBOOK: DESIGNED FOR AUDIENCE? NOT SO MUCH. Facebook isn’t about Audience? That’s ridiculous, you’ll say — so let me clarify. I fully agree that social network profiles are all about self‐expression and being seen, but a platform for self‐expression isn’t necessarily designed for the audience that does “the seeing.” Profile Pages on Facebook can have audiences of course, but this requires that users continually roam Facebook to look for news in their network. Facebook realized this limitation and introduced the News Feed. Its intent was to move a user’s “acts and performances” from the stage of the profile page to a single and central stage, a single place for Audience. SHARING WITH THE NEWS FEED: DID IT EVER REACH MY FRIENDS? Facebook was the first major social network to introduce the News Feed concept, which has since become a standard sauce for stickiness in many places (although not StudiVZ surprisingly). But Facebook’s implementation of the News Feed doesn’t capture the full power of designing for Audience: While Twitter distributes every message consistently, Facebook decides algorithmically which update is shown to whom. Algorithmic filtering is nice in theory, but such black‐box behavior is simply unpredictable for the user. “When I post new things, will my friends actually see them?”, one might wonder. And conversely: “Have my friends posted something that I’m not seeing? The news feed is cluttered right now with 1
people I don’t care about.” Anything that’s unpredictable produces a feeling of uncertainty — and that’s never a comfortable feeling. Even with Facebook’s recent attempts to introduce smarter filters, users only have relative means to customize their feed (more of this, less of that). Furthermore, there is mostly just one kind of feedback that users can give on the News Feed: comments. Imagine a concert, in which you could only leave written notes as you left — no clapping, no booing. Because users don’t really know who’s listening on Facebook and who isn’t, the platform hasn’t been embraced as a place to publish proactively. Publishing events or photos is mostly push‐driven (and generates an email — “you are invited to an event” or “tagged in a photo”). But for everything else you share, do you know if it ever reached your friends? Who capitalized on this gap? FriendFeed. It’s the same setup as Twitter, but with more content: You know who’s listening and you choose the people you listen to. A useful premise but it also has a catch: the word “more”. Too much content, too many people — which is exactly the problem that Facebook is trying to address with its algorithmic feed. But what’s a solution then? It’s not the “middle ground” and it has nothing to do with smarter filters. The answer is feedback loops. But that opens up another discussion. If you’d like to read more, I have a separate post on my website, in which I elaborate on how to design for Audience. Gregor Hochmuth is the founder of zoo‐m.com Interactive, where he created Mento, LaterLoop and other services. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where he worked as an analyst for Hasso Plattner Ventures and has written about German startups on TechCrunch. http://gawker.com/5149724/why‐twitter‐is‐the‐perfect‐startup Why Twitter is the “perfect” startup 9 February 2009 The financial world is in ashes. But that makes adorable little startup Twitter all the more precious. It is perhaps the only Internet dream left. And any economist will tell you that scarcity creates value. New York magazine sent Will Leitch to explore the crazy phenomenon of Twitter and why it's not making any money. Cofounder Biz Stone told him worrying about money was so New York. How San Francisco! The nonchalance Stone and Twitter CEO Ev Williams display about making money seems incomprehensible from elsewhere in the country. Wall Street and Detroit are supplicants in the nation's capital, dependent on billions of dollars in government largesse for their continued existence. Unemployment in the state of California is at 9.3 percent, nearly two percentage points above the national average, and the state is running out of cash. 1
Such is the genius of the Bay Area's startup factory: Money's not the point. The region is still awash with money, and doesn't know where to put it. One venture capital firm, Accel Partners, recently raised $1 billion in new funds. What it's short on is ideas. And Twitter is an attractively simple idea: short bursts of text broadcast to the Internet from the Web or a cell phone, meant to update a set of friends on what the user's doing. Jack Dorsey, the engineer who came up with the notion and was Twitter's CEO until he was ousted from the job last year, Twittered two years ago, "One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters." Twitter could be the future of news, the future of communication, the future of marketing, the future of just about anything! That's because right now, it's nothing. It has 6 million users, a pittance compared to Facebook's 150 million; Facebook's status updates duplicate Twitter's main function, and it has a real business in advertising. But Twitter has raised $20 million in venture capital, and reportedly is raising a new round that values the company, which has $0 million in revenues, at $250 million. That is an infinite price‐to‐sales ratio. In the topsy‐turvy world of venture capital, that makes sense. Why? It is infinitely easier to tell stories about a company that has no revenues than one that has some revenues. Zero revenues means blue‐
sky possibility. Any business success charted from here on out will look like a rocket ship, up and to the right. How dull, by contrast, to talk about a company going from $100 million in sales to $200 million. A mere doubling? Boring! During the dotcom bubble of the '90s, investors punished companies that were making money, because they assumed they weren't investing enough in growth. CNET's then‐
CEO Halsey Minor once noted this in 1997: "We announced that our revenues were lower, our losses were higher and our stock went up $3. The Internet is its own phenomenon." That phenomenon now lives in Twitter, whose early investors will surely succeed in getting others to buy into their dream. Simply adorable. http://gawker.com/5149724/why‐twitter‐is‐the‐perfect‐startup Twitter’s business model? Well, ummmm… 8 April 2008 When the earth shook in Los Angeles last week, the first reports didn't come from traditional media outlets, but from Twitter, the "micro‐blogging" service where users can send short, instant status updates to their friends via e‐mail and mobile phone. Ten minutes before the Associated Press reported news of the tremor, a Twitter user named Caroline (Vixy) posted a simple update: "Earthquake." Blogs and news sites buzzed the next day about how Twitter had ushered in a new era of communication. Such proclamations would have most internet entrepreneurs seeing dollar signs. But not Biz Stone, who insists Twitter's mission is simply to provide a useful, robust service and let the dollars follow later. 1
"At this point, given that we have plenty of money in the bank, it makes a lot more sense not to distract ourselves with trying to put the finishing touches on a revenue plan," says the 34‐year‐old Stone, who founded Twitter with Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams in 2006. Stone's hesitance to "monetize" Twitter echoes that of other major Web 2.0 companies, such as Facebook and YouTube, whose founders have said they'd build their audience first and find revenue streams later. But those giants have shown that converting eyeballs into money hasn't exactly been easy; Facebook has yet to start generating meaningful profit, and Google has said on a number of occasions that it has yet to find the right business model for monetizing YouTube's considerable traffic. Twitter, despite some plans Stone has up his sleeve, may very well find itself in the same position. Today Twitter makes a negligible amount of revenue from users that send and receive messages as SMS texts, and overall loses an undisclosed amount of money. But Twitter's user base has undeniably skyrocketed. The service has grown to more than 2 million per month, ten times more than April 2007, according to Compete.com. As of March 2008, 200,000 active Twitter users per week sent 3 million updates per day, according to numbers obtained by TechCrunch. Indeed, the service's growth has caught the company by surprise, and outages are not uncommon. On the heels of all this growth, Twitter announced a new round of funding in June, raising a reported $20 million in financing from V.C.'s Spark Capital and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at a $100 million valuation. But Stone is unconcerned about Twitter's current lack of profits or even revenues, saying too much focus on these things would be "a distraction" for Twitter. For one thing, the company is improving its infrastructure so the service doesn't keep getting overloaded. "Unless we have a reliable service that works the way we think it should," Stone says, focusing on revenue "is really putting the cart before the horse." Longer term, Stone, who previously worked on startups Xanga, Blogger.com, and Odeo, sees the company as a new paradigm for how people will find out about and respond to news in the future, with potential revenues to match. But one idea that Stone is considering simply capitalizes on the user behavior his network has helped to establish: real‐time news. "For over the last 200 years, you've seen big companies grow off the concept of real‐time updates," he says. "If you look at media companies like Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg, or the stock exchange, people and businesses are dependent on real‐time news coming in as it happens. Twitter is similar, except it's much broader than just one kind of news, like stock updates. So when you think of it that broadly as a utility, I think you can begin to imagine how big the potential is for Twitter as a commercial entity." The most obvious solution to how Twitter can make money would be to serve advertising directly in a user's Twitter feed (or "timeline" as the company calls it), or elsewhere on the site. But Stone and his 1
fellow execs are wary of alienating Twitter's hardcore user base, which has grown accustomed to an ad‐free service. "How would they respond to us putting ads on the site?" Stone says. "Are we going to end up pissing them off?" Stone says the key to making advertising acceptable to the Twitter community is ensuring that users choose which commercial messages they are exposed to, a lesson Facebook failed to heed last year when it was forced to quickly abandon its disastrous Beacon marketing system. But as with other potential revenue models under consideration, Stone would not elaborate on how he'd use such an opt‐in system on Twitter. One of Twitter's most likely revenue streams is through advertisements in search results where messages could be tied to what users were searching on. Twitter recently purchased Summize, a search engine specifically designed to sift through Twitter messages, for a reported $15 million in cash and stock. "There is a pretty obvious opportunity there," Stone says. "There is a level of intent that someone is showing when they come to a Twitter search and type in, say, 'iPhone.'" Another possible revenue stream is corporations paying to use the service to stay in frequent contact with their customers. Several large companies, including Dell, Whole Foods, and JetBlue, have already set up corporate presences on Twitter to let customers know about special offers and even answer customer questions. In Dell's case, the company says it's made "well over" $500,000 in sales from sending special offers from its Dell Outlet store to its Twitter group, which it began in June 2007. The group has almost 1,500 "followers" who receive its messages on a regular basis. "This is where are our customers are going," says Bob Pearson, Dell's vice president for communities and conversations. "These folks are influencers, and they want to talk about the hottest or latest stuff going on." Dell also answers individual user questions via its Twitter group, which is what companies like JetBlue (almost 3,500 followers) and Whole Foods (2,000‐plus followers) primarily use Twitter for. To a company like Dell, $500,000 is a relatively small amount, but it does hint at the potential windfall companies can reap from Twitter. "If you've got 1,000 people following you, something's happening," Pearson says. "The real potential is in the future when you've got 10,000 people following." While Stone says charging corporate users for a Twitter presence is something he might consider doing, it's not at all clear that companies would be willing to pony up for it. When asked whether Dell would consider paying Twitter for, say, each user that signed up to receive its feed, Pearson says "probably not." Whole Foods and JetBlue both say it's too early to say whether they'd be willing to pay Twitter for its service. 1
"One of the beauties of Twitter is that anyone can go on, and it doesn't cost anything," says Pearson. "There are other ways that Twitter can monetize its site, through advertising or other means. They don't have to be charging business customers to be part of it. But that's for them to think through." + http://obama20marketing.blogspot.com/2008/11/obama08‐leveraged‐twitter‐to‐drive.html Obama08 Twitter marketing strategy 8 November 2008 The Obama08 campaign successfully used Twitter to build a network of followers. He delivered his message to his Twitter followers and drove them to his site to sell paraphernalia, solicit donations, and further sell his candidacy. Barack Obama joined Twitter in March 2007 and set out to increase his presence on Twitter. By Election Day, in only 19 months, he rose from no followers to the most followed person on Twitter. The Obama 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign didn't start out on top of Twitter. They created a plan and implemented a successful Internet marketing strategy to grow their number of followers and drive traffic to their site from Twitter. Their Twitter strategy was simple, well executed, and consistent with their overall Internet Marketing Strategy. •
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Deliver their message Build their brand awareness Increase their number of followers Drive traffic to their website DELIVER THEIR MESSAGE TO TWITTER FOLLOWERS To help deliver their message of 'Hope and Change' they used the Status Updates feature of Twitter. Status Updates allows messages, with a 140 character text limit, to be sent to their Twitter followers. Obama08 status updates on Twitter all had a message and a link to their website. They kept followers updated on what Barack Obama was doing and provided a link to specific pages on the barackobama.com website for further information. With 262 status updates by Election Day, the Obama08 campaign averaged around 3.5 status updates per week. That's 1 update every other day. This is a good number because too much or too little might have been perceived as not engaging in a real conversation. This would have 'turned off' their Twitter followers. BUILD THEIR BRAND AWARENESS ON TWITTER The Twitter profile, theme, and background image is how the Obama08 campaign redesigned their Twitter site to better reflect their brand. They added a headshot of Barack Obama to the upper left corner of the page and change the background color to match their website. The Obama08 campaign 1
also added a Barack Obama photo, real name, location, and website address to his Twitter profile. They further used Barack Obama's real name as the username for his Twitter account. INCREASE THEIR NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS By Election Day, Barack Obama had over 115,000 followers. That's the largest number of followers that anyone had on Twitter. Barack Obama has excellent name recognition and is very popular. This was the primary driving force behind his 'super‐sized' follower count. But Obama's activity on Twitter was another driving force behind the huge number of followers he has on Twitter. The Obama08 campaign was very active in following other people on Twitter. Barack Obama followed over 119,000 people by Election Day. When you follow people on Twitter, you stand a better chance of being followed. DRIVE TRAFFIC TO THEIR WEBSITE The primary traffic driver from Twitter was the links in the status updates. Another traffic driver was the barackobama.com link in his Twitter profile. These links pointed to relevant and targeted pages on the barackobama.com web site. + http://obama20marketing.blogspot.com/2008/11/obama08‐leveraged‐twitter‐to‐drive.html Twitter takes Washington by storm 1 March 2009 WASHINGTON (AFP) — The halls of the US Congress are alive with the sounds of Twitter. Members of the Senate and House of Representatives ‐‐ or their aides ‐‐ are tapping out dozens of the micro messages a day on cellphones and computers from offices, committee meetings and even the floor of the legislature. Just such "tweeting" from the august House chamber got one senator, Claire McCaskill, in a bit of trouble last week ‐‐ with her mother. The Democrat from Missouri issued an apology of sorts, on Twitter of course, after firing off a message to her Twitter "followers" during President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. "Ok ok. Mom's upset that I was rude at Pres speech re:tweets. For the record I tweeted bfor, at very beginning, & after speech. I wanted to listen," McCaskill wrote in the abbreviated style adopted by many Twitter users. McCaskill is one of the more prolific congressional "Twitterers," writing 250 messages since joining in January, and has over 11,500 followers, making her the second "most followed" member of Congress. Describing her attraction of the service, she wrote: "The best part is being able to directly talk to Missourians about my day without reporters editing!" A website, tweetcongress.org, keeps track of the representatives and senators who have taken to sending out the messages of 140 characters or less and ranks them in terms of their number of followers and messages sent. Senator John McCain of Arizona has the most followers by far ‐‐ more than 106,000 ‐‐ cashing in on his name recognition as the Republican presidential nominee rather than his Twitter proficiency. The 72‐year‐old McCain is an infrequent Twitterer and acknowledges 1
getting a little assistance. "YEs!! I am twittering on my blackberry but not without a little help!" read one recent message. McCain's missives range from dismay over a rash of injuries to members of his hometown NBA team, the Phoenix Suns ‐‐ "steve nash hurt? amare too! what now for the suns!" ‐‐ to concern over spending in the economic stimulus bill. "$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi ‐ how does one manage a beaver?" he asked. Representative John Culberson, a Republican from Texas, is one of the most tech‐savvy members of the House and is believed to the first member of the 435‐strong body to adopt Twitter, having started using it nearly a year ago. "There may have been others using it before me but I'm not aware of it," Culberson told AFP. "To my knowledge I'm the first member of Congress to adopt it and use it." Culberson leads the pack in terms of messages sent ‐‐ some 2,000 or nearly four times as many as the next person on the list, Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House from California whose Twitter feed mostly consists of links to press releases. Culberson said Twitter, which is used by more than six million people and is growing rapidly, and other social media tools are "opening the door to a true revolution that will transform our government. "These new technologies give people a chance to take back control of our government by letting us see and hear how our laws are made and participate in local, state and federal government in a way we never could before," he said. "I'm convinced that the use of social media that we see today is just the tip of the iceberg," Culberson added. "The use of social media will become as commonplace in our everyday lives as flipping on a lightbulb or as natural as breathing." More Republicans than Democrats are currently using Twitter but it has been embraced on both sides of the aisle ‐‐ from Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, the former presidential hopeful from Ohio, on the extreme left to Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma on the extreme right. Unless he is talking about himself in the third person, Kucinich, however, is one of those congressmen whose messages are obviously composed by aides. "Dennis will also be on BBC Newsnight at 5:30 pm, again about Iraq troop withdrawal," read one such recent message. For Mark McKinnon, a one‐time media adviser to former president George W. Bush and Senator McCain, the discovery of Twitter by Congress is a sign it may no longer be cutting edge. "If members of Congress are Twittering, we can be fairly certain it won?t be hip much longer," he wrote in a blog post on The Daily Beast website. 2