Heard in a boardroom: “Twitter is stupid.” “Twitter is a waste of time.” “I don’t get the exhibitionist SMS fetish that Twitter users have.”
This is understandable given the way that most people are using Twitter today. What is interesting is how many smart people judge Twitter as an application, and how few judge it as a platform/communications channel.
As a social platform, Twitter has two interesting characteristics. First, behavior on Twitter is a lot like behavior on instant messaging services, it is violently fast. Second, the unique one-to-many messaging characteristic of the system means a potential for Marshall stack-like amplification of messages through the re-tweeting process.
Leveraging these characteristics in a business context can be very powerful for any company, but to do so, you need to think of Twitter as a platform, not as an application.
We are already seeing Twitter being used very successfully by Dell and others for broadcast marketing promotions. But it is very early days, what else needs to be done? How about Constant Contact for Twitter?
I am willing to bet that there are a lot of organizations that would be willing to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 per month for a system to send personalized tweets (not broadcast tweets), measure response and click through, measure conversion and use that data to build a marketing database for future segmentation and offers.
How about a $10 per month for a SurveyMonkey app? How about a simple social polling app that is ad supported? These can be very lucrative businesses for small teams that are willing to put in the resources to create an app and can then get traction. I haven’t seen many products out there like these that are useful for business people, even though my colleagues have expressed a desire for them. (and, yes, I have looked)
Twitter the application provides a realtime pulse for businesses and brands around what is being discussed in the Twittersphere. Twitter the platform is a breakthrough communications vehicle to engage with the public. Twitter is headed past the tipping point, but social software developers need to put on their business hats to put Twitter into the right context to drive more meaningful conversations in the boardroom (and drive more revenue).