Another week, another round of updates from the ongoing Twitter experiment. Much has been made about their lack of a revenue model and Twitter execs insist a working revenue stream is priority for 2009. This week, they announced a new service called exectweets which allows tweets from CEO's to be streamed into one central location. Over the long term, business will have the opportunity to purchase additional features not available with free accounts. ZDNET wrote a critical review of the model, but notes additional aspects of the revenue model have yet to be revealed. For their part, Twitter execs say it is all a work in progress and they are willing to experiment with several models until they get it right. Boring feature? Not hardly, tweets from execs like Steve Case from AOL have been interesting and informative.
Aside from revenue, they also featured a couple of new applications on their homepage. Nothing earth-shattering, but twittervision is worth a look. It shows a world map and pinpoints comments as they come into Twitter from around the world. Other apps featured on their homepage this week included twidroid - a mobile phone app making it easier to tweet on-the-go and twistori which allows you to see real time tweets based on key words.
For those having a hard time squeezing their thoughts into 140 characters, I'd recommend trying out the Tumblr app, which allows you to expand your tweet, share pics, etc.
Although Twitter is a work-in-progress and their revenue model remains uncertain, there are some clear areas where they need to improve. A few key concerns are listed below. If you have tips or solutions, please share them in the comments below, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit me up on twitter @Scout_Finch.
- Search function - They truly need to have the search function listed as an option on the front page. A friend pointed out that he does have a search tool bar, so perhaps this is a very, very slow roll-out, but a quick search option on the front page is badly needed.
- Isolating conversations - Sometimes reading Twitter is a little like taking a sip of water from a fire hydrant. Unless you are glued to your Twitter updates, it can be difficult to follow a conversation. It would be nice to have the option to see it develop from start to finish.
- Twitter apps box - Finding all those Twitter apps to enhance your experience can be a pain in and of itself. They need to add a customizable box to the user's front page that allows them to easily access various Twitter apps. Searching for them in the hard to find search function is difficult and not user friendly.
- TweetDeck - So slow. Although it exponentially enhances the Twitter experience, it sucks up so much memory that it often slows everything else to a crawl.
- Customer service - Without a revenue model, Twitter has been operating with only around two dozen employees, making them slow to respond. The Keith Olbermann debacle probably could have been avoided if they were properly staffed. According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone (via Tweet), the "fake" Olbermann account was being operated by MSNBC after all. Perhaps Keith will weigh in here and confirm whether that is true. There was a lot of "he said, he said" going on in this particular situation and Olbermann is right to raise concerns about "regular" users not having a prime time show as a vehicle to finally get Twitter's attention. I get the feeling much of this could have been avoided if they were properly staffed (note: Twitter reps say they were never contacted), something I imagine is difficult with their explosive growth. We can only hope they follow through with their promise to use the recently acquired $35 million in venture capital to add staff -- fast.
I'd like to welcome all the new Kossacks and lurkers who've recently signed up for the Twitter experiment. Two new DK editors on Twitter to note: SusanGDailyKos and Dana Houle (DHinMI). The rest of the twittering crew can be found at:
KagroX (David Waldman)
BarbinMD (Barbara Morrill)
One final note, if you are going to be in the Bay area next month and would like more info on social networking tools and how they can be applied to business, politics, organizing, and more -- be sure to check out the Netroots Nation Bay Area Summit + Celebration, which will feature social media workshops and a party to celebrate the netroots and first 100 days of the Obama administration. Space for the workshop and party are limited, so do not delay.
Until next tweek.....happy twittering.