The problem with Twitter is its lack of a consumer to consumer appeal

Mark Evans starts a new Twitter discussion this morning in his post “Taking Twitter Seriously”. He notes that Twitter is gaining attraction from people communicating about serious stuff like politics. The question becomes whether or not Twitter can grow up from being used by a small tech savvy community to a mainstream tool.

I think it will become more mainstream. Not because the tech community walks away with it, but more because it is a brilliant, dead simple, easy to use and fun communication tool that allows you to share your thoughts with others instantly. Twitter only has 2 problems to solve. They need a more sustainable business model, preferably decentralised to ensure Twitter keeps working. And they need to make it the standard for any social application on the web, so that non tech people can try and experience the power of Twitter communication.

Twitter isn’t breaking out of the tech community yet as this community is overwhelmingly narcissistic. We all have overlapping tech friends, follow the same tech guru’s (so who isn’t following Robert Scoble on Twitter yet?) and have a hard time explaining our Twitter time to our (non-tech) family members. I seriously doubt that there are many Twitter users that have family members, friends, or other non-tech industry people following them on Twitter. Twitter has become the main B2B communication stream.

Sad thing about that is that the tool is much more usable in a C2C context. The Twitter messages I like best aren’t the “breaking news” tweets (yawn) or the “Steve I have another cool gadget Jobs” sessions that break down Twitter easily.

No, it is the tweets where people free-flow express their thoughts that makes Twitter such a great communications tool. I have seen Tweets that made me laugh, think, become quiet, sometimes even a bit emotional. I have had a few conversational thoughts where people get into a Tweet flow together and send each other some really funny, amazing, or serious tweets back and forth, interacting in a way they won’t do when they are in a room together.  It is that what makes Twitter really worthwhile. Twitter wasn’t meant to be a B2B tool, but the tech community has been using it that way most often. Which is fine, but isn’t what makes it work for me. Only when Twitter breaks out of this tech community into the main stream it will become a great tool. The tech people complain about down times, about the lack of technical options, about the lack of a business model. I say, lets start using Twitter for what it is. A simple, easy to use, fun, and brilliant messaging system.

About vanelsas

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4 Responses to The problem with Twitter is its lack of a consumer to consumer appeal

  1. bentrem says:

    Good stuff, Alex. I think you’re spot on … but I have one substantial quibble: your title.

    How many people got fed up, sick and tired with Twitter’s outages? (The folk you and I follow aren’t likely to be so flip, perhaps from understanding and empathy, but in any case …)
    How much worse would those outages have been with, say, 5 or 10 times as many users? And with that sort of early adoption, how much worse the backlash?

    My point is simply this: the premise of your title is wrong.
    Maybe Ev and the guys just aren’t “with it” … possible, but that doesn’t feel right, even with what you said about business model.

    What if we’re seeing a lovely example of “long nose” … they’re working through scalability problems having gotten a critical mass of early adopters.
    Intentionally? By design?
    I dunno … I don’t need to … my guts have accumulated 35+ years of war stories and I feel how they’re going about things has a structural integrity about it. And those folk may just have honed their professional instincts.

    Maybe it’s not so much “The Problem With …” as something more like “Perhaps the Stirling Dignity of …”


  2. Alexander van Elsas says:

    @bentrem I agree with you and everyone else that Twitter is experiencing a lot of technical problems. But my point about that isn’t really that I don’t care, but more that since I do not use it for life saving issues (as professional bloggers seem to do, which is stupid really) it isn’t very important to me right now. But, if Twitter wants to survice, and become mainstream, of course they will need to resolve their technical issues.
    I like Twitter for what it is, a simple and elegant way to share thoughts with anyone I want. I think the “breaking news” value if the Twitter network is ok, but not so important. It becomes a parroting community rather quickly once the news breaks 😉

  3. Darryl says:

    Imagine I’m Steve Jobs on Twitter with 50 000 followers. I ask for feedback on the new version 3 firmware for the iPhone. 20% of my followers respond. What are the possibilities from all those responses if you think of the immediacy of the interaction? Where else can a product provider get such quick feedback?

    The second is search on Twitter. Imagine I’m A software developer who has just released my software. For one week I dod searches on Twitter for anyone that twittered about my software. Is that valuable reading material?

    No wonder Google is interested in Twitter.

  4. Pingback: Twitter and the LoveDAQ | music2work2

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