I’m exactly the type of user that Twitter needs. I’m not a professional athlete, a celebrity, or a rockstar tech investor. Like millions of people that tried Twitter and never went back...I’m a nobody.
The way I see it, you can do two things on Twitter. You can Tweet (a.k.a.: speaking), or you can listen. Metaphorically speaking, Twitter users are “listening” when they process a stream of news, info, chatter, or entertainment.
Using ‘product scaffolding’ to deconstruct the concept of Twitter, it’s obvious why regular humans struggle with it.
When I Tweet: When I want to speak to other humans, I use Twitter because? Because I want people to listen, retweet, favorite, or click links. Really? For regular humans, and certainly for new users, this happens infrequently enough that Twitter seems like a dark, empty, sound-sucking forest. Tweets just don’t deliver much value (link, link).
When I Listen: When I want to listen, I use Twitter because? Because why? Twitter’s listening machinery is primitive, the checkbook ledger (timeline) gives me a headache, there’s too much noise, and the near complete lack of meaningful, insightful presentations (of anything) boggles my mind.
‘Moments’, ‘hearts’, and ‘polls’ (new features) are not an improvement!. It’s all like staring at sand...when you want a beach.
When I Tweet: When I want to to speak to other humans, I use Twitter because I’m certain that every tweet matters, that every tweet has meaning, and that no tweet goes unnoticed! Zero energy is wasted.
When I Listen: When I want to listen, I use Twitter because the realtime pulse of everything and anything is instantly accessible at a glance, including: collective sentiment, trends, projections, analytics, comparisons, correlations, inferences, and everything else that helps me make sense of the world.
Twitter Product Strategy From a Nobody
To deliver the speak and listen scaffolding, here’s some product strategy advice from a nobody: If you (Twitter), can fix the listening machinery, you will simultaneously deliver the ‘speaking’ value proposition [where every tweet matters]. Here’s how:
Push the tweet ledger (stream) to the background. At a dashboard glance, the layer(s) above should show me the pulse of the world through the lenses of the people, things, brands, and words that I follow (track). Show it to me locally, regionally, nationally, globally, individually, collectively, comparatively, statistically, currently, historically, graphically, pictorially, as trends, and even as projections. Heck, I’ll even settle for word clouds. Give it drill down and zooming capabilities, and enable me to export and share every view.
Dissect, analyze, and parse every tweet. In a big data, big compute, machine learning world, they all have meaning. They all have impact. Roll every one of them into dashboard views for regular people like me. People will speak when they know the world is listening!
With revolutionary listening machinery, “Follow me on Twitter”, the most burdensome social request ever, gets replaced with “Listening on Twitter”. When every tweet and every mention matters, the vanity/ego metrics (following#, followers#) become obsolete. When you know that your tweets matter to the listening machine, the burden of acquiring followers goes to zero. Twitter success is no longer measured by unattainable audience sizes and negligible engagement metrics, it now comes from knowing that your voice is a slice on graph, a point on a line, a vote in a poll, a picture in story, a community contribution, a spot of sentiment, a historical record, a predictive input, etc., etc., and generally speaking: an energy source behind...the pulse of the world.
Revenue Model: When the ledger stream gets pushed to the background, the current (intrusive) ad model gets crippled. So, sell premium listening capabilities. There’s not a brand on earth that doesn’t need to track stuff. I realize “track” and “stuff” are vague. At some point radio waves must have seemed vague to Marconi, and we all know how that turned out. :)