Twitter: appeal to tweeters to get readers

One thing I don’t understand about Twitter is why they keep making futile attempts to pump up the DEMAND side instead of focusing on the far more tractable and monetizable SUPPLY side.

The real problem with attempts to get mass quantities of new readers, especially by focusing on celebrities and events, is that no normal ever truly needs that type of tweet ON TWITTER. Anything noteworthy said or done by a sports star or Kardashian, and any kind of major disaster or political upheaval, will be covered extensively and better elsewhere. Many journalists these days basically exist to sift through the endless dreck of Twitter and rewrite the tasty bits.

But there are still orgs that could be pushing Twitter on a lot of people, and those orgs are basically businesses. Twitter is missing the boat by letting these businesses establish their main channels on Facebook, Nextdoor, and even Tumblr due to simple lack of demonstrably giving a damn about them.

Let’s get to the examples! This morning I got a super useful tweet from the Sunnyvale fire department, informing me that there was a 2-alarm in progress right on my bike route. This is the exact kind of thing that Twitter should be a no-brainer for: time-sensitive, actionable, and SHOULD BE FULLY PUBLIC. No one should have to give up personal information or prove they live in the neighborhood to learn about a fire that will definitely affect their day.

Here’s another example: I follow a guy who runs a niche business around procuring and preparing wild foods. He is having a workshop in December that he wants to promote. But the best Twitter can do for him is to let him put a link to his Facebook account! Over there he can put up a larger photo than Twitter allows, and write a slightly longer message than Twitter allows, and get some of his followers to express enthusiasm in a comment stream that can be read by potential followers.

Businesses have taken a “Facebook first” strategy, but the company is far from invulnerable. Their technical offerings are kind of sucky, and increasingly their users don’t want their brand interactions to get dumped into their friends’ feeds. And you have to search — aka “find us on Facebook” — to locate a brand’s page.

In the long run that is Twitter’s one incalculable advantage: a clean and well-implemented namespace. You can just GO to a brand’s Twitter page if you know their username. What the company needs right now is just to give brands a couple of halfway decent reasons to push Twitter on their customers first and then syndicate to other venues later.