Robert Bacal’s “Twitter in a Corner- Facing Huge Challenges” is a smart look into Twitter’s challenge to monetize and survive into the future. Bacal points out Twitter’s initial steps into advertising and their deliberate roll out strategy. He correctly identifies Twitter’s concern with user experience and the possible alienation of users due to the advertising platform. Bacal gets most of it right but not everything.
Twitter User Experience: Bad Times Ahead?
According to Bacal:
“Can it (Twitter) hit the critical balancing point where it can maintain its user base, attract more users while using user eyeballs to generate money? It’s unlikely. There is a point where the commercial use will drive social and community users out of the space, or to competitors, and that reality, or at least possibility limits the revenue potential.“
“At the same time, there is the issue of commercialization from third party sources who aren’t paying anything for the free advertising they get from simply dumping tweets into the stream. They damage the user experience for those who are not there to buy things, the majority of users, and they don’t drive any revenue at all for Twitter.”
Twitter User Experience: Counterpoint
- Commercial Use: commercial use will begin to attract more users not drive them away from Twitter. In tandem with Foursquare, Twitter will be the “offer platform” consumers will flock to in order to find the best deals on products and services
- Research: according to a 2006 quote from Evan Williams:
“What we have to do is deliver to people the best and freshest most relevant information possible. We think of Twitter as it’s not a social network, but it’s an information network. It tells people what they care about as it is happening in the world.” Twitter remains one of the most vibrant and important resources for information on the internet and the fastest growing search engine with more monthly search queries than Yahoo and Bing- combined!
- Choice: Bacal’s thought that user experience is damaged by people or companies “dumping tweets into the stream” that either promote or advertise something is no different than the 50 years worth of television or radio advertising we have endured. We as users understand that we can ignore the tweets that promote or advertise because the network’s value outweighs the littered stream.
- Entertainment Value: Twitter has a plethora of celebrities, sports stars, business magnates, and other very interesting people and brands. It is the platform to learn about people and brands. No amount of commercialization will drive people away from the tidbits of gossip, insider information, and breaking news Twitter has to offer.