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Twitter makeover: Don't lose what made it special

Discussion in 'Tech, Gadgets & Science Forum' started by Smiles, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. Smiles

    Smiles JF-Expert Member

    Sep 16, 2010
    Joined: Aug 24, 2009
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    Twitter makeover: Don't lose what made it special
    By Suzanne Choney

    If you think Twitter is just for Justin Bieber fans, or will be hurting with John Mayer's recent departure from the site, you'd be wrong.

    With its big, shiny new makeover announced Tuesday, Twitter ups the social networking ante for eyeballs — and ad dollars and marketers — mightily. Twitter, a microblogging site which limits posts to 140 characters, is indeed more of an "information" network than a social one for many of its 145 million users, as company officials made it a point to say at a press conference.

    The site has an average of 90 million tweets daily, and 370,000 new users signing up each day to use it. It doesn't beat Facebook's numbers — 500 million-plus users — but one thing Twitter is that Facebook is not is easier and quicker to use.

    Hopes are it will stay that way with the addition of Facebook-like features, including the ability to nimbly add video or photos and see them without having to navigate away from the Twitter stream.

    Twitter also is more facile on mobile phones than Facebook and other social networking programs. Because many of us now virtually (and in reality) live on our phones, anyone who has compared trying to do a quick check of Twitter vs. Facebook via mobile knows Twitter wins, hands down.

    It's fast, easy, streamlined. Facebook has become bloated and a bit kludgy, something better suited for a sitdown at the computer rather than trying to navigate it while on the subway or over lunch at a fast-food restaurant.

    But Facebook is becoming the place for advertisers to go — you can be sure Google sat up and took notice at a comScore report last week that said Web surfers are spending more time socializing on Facebook than searching Google.

    Earlier this year, Twitter — free to use, just like Facebook — started testing "Promoted Trends" advertising, where brands pay to appear below Twitter's "trending topics."

    The idea, wrote Mashable, which covers social networking, "is, in a word, ingenious — the perfect way to generate revenue from the popular social network without infuriating users."

    The new Twitter, said Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray, is "a significant evolution that promises to attract more visits to, improve Twitterers’ interactions with content and each other, and ease adoption for Twitter newbies."

    All of that should be true. In a report, timed to news of Twitter's changes, Ray notes that "the long-term effects could be substantial as Twitter focuses on powering growth by improving Twitter consumption — which will in turn make Twitter a more powerful platform for influence marketing."

    That is somewhat dismaying to hear, as at times it can seem like Twitter is already awash with self-promotion, showmen and silliness.

    But Twitter has also been a powerful communications tool: Think Iran during the tumultous and violent elections there last year, when the government shut down the Internet, but dissidents were able to use Twitter because of its open architecture.

    Think Haiti, last January, when Twitter was a key way to get the word out about what was happening there, amid chaos and destruction.

    Think about Atlanta councilman Kwanza Hall, who in 2009, used Twitter to help save a woman who suffered a seizure, by putting out a tweet for the need for a paramedic. His cell phone battery was running low, and he apparently didn't want to wind up on 911 hold.

    From Twitter's inception in 2006, founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams have been advocates for using Twitter to good end. But a good end is hard to obtain unless the site can stay in business. The "new" Twitter may be a turning point, but hopefully, not a turning-away point for its users, who have come to rely on it as one of the purer tools for getting the word out, even with the marketers in the mix.

    Source: Google News