How I Would Run Twitter

Twitter has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. They're shifting from being a startup that hopes to make money to a company that generates revenue and profits. This isn't a bad thing, especially if you like using Twitter (I do), and hope it sticks around. Most people won't really notice the changes. Even the in-stream Promoted Tweets (ads) aren't really that distracting.

What has been a little concerning is how Twitter is changing their attitude in regards to how people interact with the service. Without apps like Tweetie, Twitterrific, and Tweetbot, Twitter wouldn't be where it is today. Tweetie was so good (and is what got so many of us hooked on using Twitter regularly), they bought it. That's not all bad, except for now they've decided to kill off Twitter for Mac (formerly Tweetie for Mac), while also putting restrictions on what apps companies are allowed to create while connecting to their APIs.

Essentially, they've placed their bets on becoming a walled garden (AOL, anyone?) rather than focusing on other ways to add value to their service.

A discussion popped up on Branch that caught my interest, asking: "What might you have done differently were you running Twitter six months ago?"

My answer: put an emphasis on local, events, and discussions. If an event like Lollapalooza is going on, allow Red Bull (an official sponsor) to sponsor the stream of tweets. This could replace the Promoted Trends, which are useless anyway. Build a conversation around that event that adds more context, rich media, and interaction. Let the official sponsors of these events pay to have their name and logo plastered all over the page.

This is a way to add a Branch or Quora-like element to Twitter that encourages engaging with people rather than using it as a personal soapbox. It can work for sports, concerts, festivals, conventions, and just about any other event that generates a lot of interest.

Twitter has a chance to be an evolution in communication. I'm afraid they're more worried about building a company than changing the world.

Andy Newmanideas