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Twitter Going 'Mainstream'

A presentation for Twitter Developer Nest given in Brighton 12 Oct 2010 Discusses the changes to Twitter as it moves into the mainstream and the implications this brings for developers and business owners working on the platform

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Twitter Going ‘Mainstream’
           @timwhitlock
             twitblock.org




       Featuring questionable trademark infringements
“I imagine most users are not going to want to have all
                  of their Twttr messages published on a public website.”
                                                            @arrington, Jul 2006




                                     90 million tweets per day
                                        ~1,000 per second
                                                                 @ev, Oct 2010




http://techcrunch.com/2006/07/15/is-twttr-interesting/
Is Twitter ‘mainstream’ yet?

Over 165 million ‘registered’ users
• Active users vs Lurkers
• Dormant / Suspended accounts / Spam / Bots / News feeds?
• Celebrity surges

Facebook’s 500 million are ‘active’ users
• ‘Active’ defined as returning within 30 days
• 50% of users log in each day
• More likely to be human

Better stats, please Twitter!
• We need a clearer picture of the user base
• Do they share more data with advertisers/sponsors?

http://j.mp/newtwitterceo
http://j.mp/fb-stats
Damned lies & third party research

21% of Twitter users are ‘active’ *
• Barracuda defined this as 10 tweets, 10 followers, 10 friends
• 99.9% of my followers are ‘active’ by this definition
• - but 22% of my followers haven’t tweeted for over a month

38% of Twitter users have never tweeted **
• Does that mean they have zero value?
• We don’t know enough about the silent majority

84% of statistics are rubbish
• Flawed definitions of user value
• API insufficient for third party studies
• Login stats, please Twitter!

* Barracuda Networks, Mar 2010 - http://j.mp/barracuda-report
**RJ Metrics, Oct 2010 - http://j.mp/rjmetrics-study
Participation inequality                                                   1% heavy contributors



The 90-9-1 rule *                                                                9% intermittent

• “90% are lurkers who never contribute”
• “will always be with us” says Neilsen
• So Twitter is ‘normal’?

Twitter’s 90/10 rule **
• “Typical Twitter users contribute rarely”                            90%
• “10% of users contribute 90% of content”                            Lurkers


Qualitative assumptions
• ‘Contribution’ isn’t necessarily synonymous with ‘activity’
• Lurkers are still consumers - assuming they log in
• Only Twitter are in a position to provide the full, clear picture


*Jakob Nielsen, 2006 - http://j.mp/useit-90-9-1
**Harvard study, 2009 - http://j.mp/heil-study
What’s to blame for this inequality?

Twitter culture is geeky/complex - it’s a cult

Barrier to contribution is deceptively high

Functionality is distributed around the web

Brand identity is fragmented

Confusing to new users

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Twitter Going 'Mainstream'

  • 1. Twitter Going ‘Mainstream’ @timwhitlock twitblock.org Featuring questionable trademark infringements
  • 2. “I imagine most users are not going to want to have all of their Twttr messages published on a public website.” @arrington, Jul 2006 90 million tweets per day ~1,000 per second @ev, Oct 2010 http://techcrunch.com/2006/07/15/is-twttr-interesting/
  • 3. Is Twitter ‘mainstream’ yet? Over 165 million ‘registered’ users • Active users vs Lurkers • Dormant / Suspended accounts / Spam / Bots / News feeds? • Celebrity surges Facebook’s 500 million are ‘active’ users • ‘Active’ defined as returning within 30 days • 50% of users log in each day • More likely to be human Better stats, please Twitter! • We need a clearer picture of the user base • Do they share more data with advertisers/sponsors? http://j.mp/newtwitterceo http://j.mp/fb-stats
  • 4. Damned lies & third party research 21% of Twitter users are ‘active’ * • Barracuda defined this as 10 tweets, 10 followers, 10 friends • 99.9% of my followers are ‘active’ by this definition • - but 22% of my followers haven’t tweeted for over a month 38% of Twitter users have never tweeted ** • Does that mean they have zero value? • We don’t know enough about the silent majority 84% of statistics are rubbish • Flawed definitions of user value • API insufficient for third party studies • Login stats, please Twitter! * Barracuda Networks, Mar 2010 - http://j.mp/barracuda-report **RJ Metrics, Oct 2010 - http://j.mp/rjmetrics-study
  • 5. Participation inequality 1% heavy contributors The 90-9-1 rule * 9% intermittent • “90% are lurkers who never contribute” • “will always be with us” says Neilsen • So Twitter is ‘normal’? Twitter’s 90/10 rule ** • “Typical Twitter users contribute rarely” 90% • “10% of users contribute 90% of content” Lurkers Qualitative assumptions • ‘Contribution’ isn’t necessarily synonymous with ‘activity’ • Lurkers are still consumers - assuming they log in • Only Twitter are in a position to provide the full, clear picture *Jakob Nielsen, 2006 - http://j.mp/useit-90-9-1 **Harvard study, 2009 - http://j.mp/heil-study
  • 6. What’s to blame for this inequality? Twitter culture is geeky/complex - it’s a cult Barrier to contribution is deceptively high Functionality is distributed around the web Brand identity is fragmented Confusing to new users
  • 7. What are Twitter doing about this? Getting their one billion users*, that is * http://mashable.com/2010/10/12/biz-stone-evan-williams-twitter/
  • 8. Reclaiming the brand Increased volume of rules/guidelines • Avoids brand confusion • Still more flexible compared to Facebook • Protects competitive advantage (advertising/analytics) Think before you name your business • “tw-” and “twit-” are “generally ok” • You will have to license use of “twitter-” Use of “tweet-” has been controversial • “tweet” and “retweet” are trademarks in UK - failed in USA • Rules lacks clarity here - Just don’t risk it Tweet TM TM http://j.mp/twitter-tm
  • 9. Owning market leading apps Acquisition of Atebits • Tweetie is now the official “Twitter for iPhone” client • Twitter also own the leading Blackberry client • and Android WTF? http://j.mp/twitter-tweetie
  • 10. Owning market leading apps Acquisition of Smallthought • “Analytics dashboard” to launch this quarter Introduction of t.co .co • URL shortener company not acquired Official Tweet button • Replaced Tweetmeme’s little green button on many sites http://j.mp/rrw-trendly http://j.mp/twitter-co
  • 11. #NewTwitter Drives users to twitter.com • Do we need desktop clients at all? • Where’s “Twitter for Mac” and “Twitter for Windows”? * Desktop clients are still superior products • TweetDeck / Seesmic appealing to power users • Notifications, filtering, extensibility, other platforms The ‘mainstream’ are not power users • twitter.com can prioritise a feature set for the masses • Twitter’s position on the desktop is unclear * * Note: Twitter API team has confirmed to #devnest that twitter for mac is a ‘side project’ and twitter.com is considered their ‘desktop client’
  • 12. What’s next? Prepare for privacy problems • Fine grained permissions for apps • Make it easier to report a third party Mockup of Twitter app permissions
  • 13. What’s next? Lower barriers to contribution • Support frictionless content curation • Where’s Twitter’s Like button? (favourites/retweets) Emphasis on discovery • “the best way to discover what’s new in your world” • Capitalise on the lurkers Consolidate functionality • App directory (OneForty) - discovery of apps under the Twitter brand • Media providers (TwitPic) - image uploads through twitter.com
  • 14. The important bit Developers - how does this affect us?
  • 15. Get acquired, or get squashed? Does your product compete with Twitter? • Datasift looks superior to Twitter search • Remember Summize? The developer ecosystem incubates apps • But with no guarantees of acquisition • Is second place an option? Advantage Twitter • Can you maintain a competitive edge on their own turf? • What if they pull a feature your app relies upon? • e.g. in-stream advertising banned • e.g. wrapping of URLs disallowed
  • 16. Stop “filling holes”! Advice from VC Fred Wilson • “.. the time for filling holes in the Twitter service has come and gone” • But what are the limits of Twitter’s function/market? Where are the killer apps? • $$$ocial gaming • Verticals, Corporate niches, Discovery, Analytics £ Is your business transferable to other platforms? • Is Twitter just a springboard? Is Twitter working for your app? • or is your app working for Twitter? Fred Wilson, Apr 2010 http://j.mp/avc-inflection