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Like many folks, I’m trying to figure out Twitter. Tiny bursts of writing that often include Bitly links or some other unintelligible characters do not make for easy reading. Two recent items stand out for me.

The first is a proactive email from Twitter encouraging me to come and have a look at various stories that might be of interest. The second is a Follow I received from someone who apparently follows 16,755 other folks.

Twitter’s email makes me think that all is not well in tweet land. If it were, the folks at Twitter would not need to devise new ways to entice me back. The 16,755-follower person suggests that one use of Twitter is merely to brag about how many folks you follow like a little kid who says “My Dad is bigger than your Dad.”

Can you have any meaningful interaction with 16,755 people? Where would you find time to follow even 1000 of them? How about 100?

What is the Twitter business model? Why is Twitter using ‘old’ technology like email to connect with users?

According to Emma Barnett writing in The Telegraph, “Twitter famously only started rolling out adverts on the site in 2010, after four years of no attempt to make money from the site, apart from a couple of search aggregation deals.” Barnett goes on to mention that Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder said “Twitter’s ‘Promoted’ products — including promoted tweets, accounts and trends — are currently seeing three to five per cent engagement”. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and others, the company is seeking eyeballs to deliver to advertisers.

What portion of people use it for broadcast purposes only? Dan Farber, writing on CNET said “Twitter is basically a mass-scale marketing platform, in which every tweeter is a marketer and every follower a set of eyeballs and a potential re-marketer.”

In 2011 Bill Mitchell reported that Roger Ebert (film critic amongst other talents) was tweeting about a particular product, the link offered for that product took anyone clicking on it over to Amazon. Ebert gets remunerated for the mention. Another example of the ‘famous person product endorsement model’. I’m not sure how Twitter makes money on that one.

Do you want to be an eyeball or a click-through?