Celebrating a Digital Birthday

On march 18, 2009 I created my Twitter account. I was skeptical in the beginning, hence my late adoption, but thankfully I persevered and it has since become an invaluable tool in my life, especially work. Last week was also twitter’s ninth birthday. There have been many key events that have catapulted Twitter onto the world stage, SXSW in 2007, Janis Krums photo of passengers huddled on the wing of a US Airways plane – only moments after the aircraft plunged into the Hudson River. But, as @Jack pointed out in his birthday message, it has been journalists that have been behind much of its success. Twitter has revolutionized global news delivery and consumption. Twitters ability to share events in real-time is unprecedented in human history and has caused governments, corporations and individuals to change their strategy in one way or another due to its powerful ability to change events in real-time. Twitter is testament to our ability to affect change in a world where we seem powerless in the face of speed and complexity. Long live Twitter.

However, is Twitter going to be a victim of its own success? Some of the policies that have been in place since its inception may well need to be revisited, the follower/following ratio for example; is this too restricting after a successful nine years and the amount of people using the platform? Some steps have been taken to protect people from being targeted by cyber bullies which is very welcome. The decision to limit Meercat’s access to the platform? That debate is still going on in the blogosphere.

One of Twitters big business problems seems to be how to attract greater numbers of people to join and, once joined, how to keep them on Twitter. There are no easy solutions to this problem, however, newcomers are faced with what seems at first to be a complex and endless stream of a data which is difficult to navigate. If newcomers could be gently introduced to Twitter by using data analytics from a persons online footprint, their interests, geographic and demographic data for example, a newcomer follow/following ratio and some monitoring, maybe newcomers would have a better experience when joining and Twitter would get more of them to persevere and stay. A simple questionnaire, no more than five questions, when signing up to Twitter and creating a profile could be the starting point. Once a profile has been monitored for a while, suggestions on who to follow and tweets of interest could be recommended individually. Customer experience is vital in our instant gratification world, newcomers to Twitter are having a difficult and complex experience.

There are also those people and businesses that have been on Twitter for a while but are getting frustrated for one reason or another, some of whom leave. Again, instant gratification rules. One way of attempting to beat the system, as it were, is to buy followers (a definite no-no) or sign up to one of the many services available that unfollows people automatically (not a path I’ve taken). However, trial and error, perseverance and a healthy dose of curiosity work wonders IMHO. Attempting to make shortcuts defeats the objective, it’s much smarter to find your own way of using Twitter. Larry King phones a voice-mail number and his assistant transcribes it into a tweet. Smart.

Twitter is also forming partnerships. IBM is exploiting large troves of data for its business customers via its big-data fire-hose with 6,000 tweets a second, more than half a billion each day. Twitter data is being mined for how much your tweets reveal about you and much, much more.

The future is bright for Twitter, I’ll be continuing my social media journey there, I hope you will too.


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