Twitter looking to go mainstream.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (@jack) has returned to the company as head of Product Development and has immediately announced his aim to make the service more mainstream.
When you look at those currently using Twitter you realise that it is already mainstream but just needs to aim for ubiquity - a tricky prospect.
If recent figures are to be believed and active user numbers are more like 20 million rather than the 175 million being thrown around then Twitter has a problem keeping users and helping them find value rather than just attracting new sign-ups.
The key to the initial success was simplicity and ease of use but that may not be enough to attract many. The problem, therefore, becomes how to attract new users without separating the service from its roots. What new functionality can be introduced to entice those who feel Twitter is too simple without over complicating things?
Learn from your users
We have already seen that listening to users is a good thing now that the Quickbar has been removed from the Twitter iPhone app still, more needs to be done.
Twitter must go further and make it easier to give constructive feedback rather than simply tweeting the @feedback account. Admittedly, you can tweet whatever you like (as long as it is less than 140 characters) be it a brief note or a link to an external page but as the account hasn't tweeted since the 17th September users will feel their comment or suggestion is just getting lost in the ether and going unnoticed.
Should there be an auto-responder acknowledging any tweets or is this just paying lip service to users? What evidence do we currently have that Twitter is actively listening? Are tweets the right forum for feedback or should there be
While I appreciate that they wish to keep the service consistent soliciting feedback in 140 characters (and then not even acknowledging that) is 'doing it wrong' as so many other companies are accused.
We have my6sense doing a great job of presenting tweets etc. by relevance and applications like Flipboard showing social content in a magazine fashion; personalisation is rapidly becoming the way of the web.
Twitter bought Smallthought Systems, the analytics company behind Trendly, and were due to be offering real-time analysis which doesn't seemed to have appeared beyond select testing. Surely such analytical power could be used to identify trending links (as opposed to trending topics) from those shared by your friends and present them in an easy format for consumption.
It is widely accepted that Twitter is not for everyone but this may be a limitation of the timeline format. Perhaps it is time for a bit of a shake-up - they call themselves a consumption company now after all.
As with any social service or application, Twitter is designed to be used to communicate. We form cliques and groups which can appear intimidating from the outside meaning the casual or first-time visitor may be put off using the site. Twitter needs to give people who may not have anything to say (or anyone to talk to) a reason to visit the site so that they can get value even if they do not yet have any followers.
With no 'friends' an empty timeline does not create a good first impression and following the public timeline is nonsensical as a starting point so something has to be done to improve the experience for new users. Whatever that may be is down to Dorsey and his staff.
The wealth of functionality within Facebook has no doubt contributed to its success so perhaps it could be argued that Twitters greatest strength - the simplicity - is also its greatest weakness. But, whatever happens, the push for ubiquity will be a hard mountain to climb.