Twitter, Advertising, and the Numbers

by francine Hardaway on November 23, 2009

A comment on Brian Solis' blog post this morning about the decline in Twitter's numbers turned into this post, in which I explore feelings about Twitter that I didn't even know I had:-) But the discussion about Twitter advertising has also prompted some of these thoughts, which I've been discussing with @scobleizer over on his blog. I suggest you read Brian's post and about the last four posts of Scobeizer to understand where I am coming from. This, of course, presumes you have an empty life.

I question myself about Twitter every day, as most of my non-Geek friends on Facebook are drowned in my Twitter stream and wonder why I do things like say where I am (Foursquare). They don't see any reason to use Twitter, and question whether anyone cares what they had for lunch. There has been no serious MSM discussion of Twitter as search, Twitter as discovery, or Twitter as marketing tool — all of which preoccupy our community. The phrase "real time stream" scares the pants off people, as evidenced by what happens every time FB moves another step toward real time. What we find interesting, others find annoying.

And now, Twitter is thinking of using advertising, and is using advertising already. Oy-vay.  Another deterrent for newbies.

But Twitter MUST cross the chasm and figure out how to be integrated into our lives. I believe it will end up being just another tool in a social network one day, as the Laconica platform suggests. At the end of the day, although world-changing, Twitter is a tool, not a product. It's a GREAT tool for some people, and a terrible tool for others. Example: Scoble hits the wall and goes down to 1500 follow-ees. Then he tries to segment by lists. And he's an uber-geek who gets paid to do this. His wife never sees him:-)

Hardaway is an uber-listener and a fast follower. So when Scoble makes lists, she makes lists. Her lists are crap. They don't contain half the good people Scoble's do. Every list she has, be it health care, politics, tech — is incomplete. So she follows Scoble's list, Palafo's list, Enoch Choi's list. Then she doesn't have time to look at their lists, and when she does, it's only to poke a toe into the latest flow of the river. She has no idea what has been happening all week, or even all day or all hour. The lists give here a glimpse of the last five minutes of ONLY the news on Palafo's list (which is often repetitive, because it's breaking news), or Scoble's list (always repetitive because geeks operate in memes).

See where I'm going with this? I'm a Twitterholic, with four accounts (me, my entrepreneurship, my health care interests, and my dog). I've invested a huge amount of time in Twitter, both for making friends (that's where it shines, but that part's going away as it grows) and for learning things. Ordinary people with real lives and families don't have time to study real time streams and Twitter apps and lists. And long-time users hardly every see their earlier Twitter-buds anymore. @newmediajim, @susanreynolds, sheilas, preppydude, and many of my long-time Twitter friends are often drowned in my stream, even though I still follow them. They surface only occasionally, and I always want to throw my arms around them, because I "discovered" them on Twitter. But now I have to follow all my IRL friends on Twitter, too, and I'm stuck. If you read this post by another early Twitter user, @conniereece, you will see similar reservations.

Conclusion: Twitter is more difficult than we think. It's not easy to adopt, especially if you are going to do more than just broadcast, which is what most celebs do. It has an unwritten etiquette, which often grabs newbies by surprise, and now it's full of marketers and spammers. All the above is difficult to capture in statistics and algorithms, but I think that's what is happening.

Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

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Twitter, Advertising, and the Numbers | Stealthmode Blog |
November 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rodney_Rumford November 25, 2009 at 4:21 am

Great insights. it IS more difficult than us early adopters think. that is the challenge. how do you get people to see value and continue to use it for their needs. Any easy way to do this is find out what someones hobby is and connect them with other people that share that hobby. they will instantly get the value of the channel.

co founder: TweetPhoto

hardaway November 25, 2009 at 6:55 am

I think that's right. I remember about twelve years ago I got a friend of
mine to go on the Internet (he thought it would be useless to him) when I
showed him he could search for hard-to-find used Porsche parts there. After
a remarkably short time he was connected with Porsche owners and collectors
all over the world.

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