Monday, October 21, 2013
Twitter's Best IPO Strategy? Evolve.
With a Twitter IPO expected in mid-November, Twitter wants to position itself as indispensable to consumers. Like many Internet companies, investors and analysts contend a huge pool is key to the company's ability to attract advertisers and generate a profit. But according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 36% of 1,067 people who have joined Twitter say they do not use it, while 7% say they have closed their account. You have to expect that drop off though with any new product. For instance, I haven't washed my Shamwow since I ran out of OxiClean after I dropped my George Foreman grill.
Twitter is a bit like a late night infomercial to be honest. It's got the cool factor, fun to use, but really offers more sizzle than steak. I don't tweet much for myself, but I get why people might want a virtual soap box. Say what you feel regardless if it's meant to entertain, notify, or provoke thought. But chances are few will read it. And if you're a regular person, you've got a better chance of your message being read by writing it on a yellow Post-It Note and placing it on a monitor.
The secret to success for businesses on Twitter is no secret. Just give stuff away. Like good ideas, or t-shirts, or Lady Gaga tickets. Or a Lady Gaga CD with 250,000 government cables -- that seemed to attract a following for Wikileaks.
And though it's not my preferred of the social networks, Twitter is powerful, popular, and the little blue bird should not be held up to a public barbeque. No one can't read most of their Tweets but that's the way all communication works. You can print a million newspapers but a million won't get read. You can broadcast the nightly news to a million homes but a million viewers won't watch.
On one hand, Twitter is better in that you can target what news you want; worse in that it's got just a moment to catch your attention. I liken it to the ticker tape in Times Square but one you get to control. So no, Twitter is not indispensable -- but neither is your daily newspaper or homepage.
The whole purpose of targeted communications is targeted advertising. Let the uninterested Twitter followers drop off and the pool contract. Why care if you don't get it? Millions of others do. When it comes to the Twitter IPO, too much is being made of the attrition rate and attention time of consumers, and too little about the application's functionality and customization capabilities. Yes there are apps to install to make the Twitter experience better but you have to know they exist. Apps that make sorting, blocking, highlighting, recommending and archiving easier. I say build all of those into the product.
I believe the novelty of Twitter is over and it's time for it to evolve. Be less like a late night infomercial product and more of the indispensable social media mainstay you long to be. But hurry, operators and investors are standing by now!
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