Things Twitter should do, go beyond Curating information About You

I joined Twitter in late 2008. And it took me some time to become familiar enough with Twitter to join it. Before joining Twitter, although I used to stumble upon some reference to Twitter almost everyday; but it never appeared to me (or I didn't find enthusiasm, to know more about it); what Twitter is.

Similar sentiment was expressed by many others, who can still recall how much time took to figure out, what Twitter actually is.

Back then, and even now, it's tough to learn to use Twitter (what is Tweet, how to used hashtags like #magicof, Twitter strategy etc., Twitter marketing). Even those who joined it one time, later abandoned it. In 2009, Twitter's retention rate was worse than MySpace (now gone to oblivion), threatening its ability to grow to critical mass. The problem which mars a sizable section of Twitter users is -- How to keep a watch on the Tweets of the Twitter users they follow; Even if they figure out how to read and write 140-character posts.

Actually if you want to use Twitter better, you will have to sit all day gluing your eyes to your Twitter timeline. Even marketers don't have that kind of time. This problem is solved, if a Twitter user becomes too "choosy in who To Follow"; but this strategy doesn't work for Two reasons.

One, majority of people don't have that steep discretion; and two, if majority of Twitter users adopt this method, Twitter will lose its Tweet volume. On the flip side, those Twitter users, "who follow back anyone who follows them", are not using Twitter the way it was once intended to be used. That is, follow people from one's professional or field of interest, and learn from their Tweets. Hence most active users on Twitter (which I assume constitute a small section) are marketers, bloggers, online entrepreneurs, experts, who "follow everyone who follows them", they never learn from their massive timelines (with rate as 10 Tweets per second) and use Twitter just to syndicate their own Tweets.

But, Twitter proved many wrong and surpassed the critical mass point. Twitter now has more than 200 million active monthly users. But the share of active users on Twitter is still much less compared to Facebook. Facebook can still boast its active users, as these users are active in true definition of the word. Compared to Twitter people spend much much time on Facebook. How Twitter makes its users actually scan their timelines effectively can increase the real activity on Twitter.

The reasons how Twitter managed to attain the critical mass, were a slew of slick processes and features it kept releasing (2009-2013). One of the key reasons why people join and later abandon Twitter, is that they couldn't figure out "who to follow on Twitter". That's if they follow every other Twitter user, who makes 1 brilliant or useful Tweet after 10 trash ones; then they end up having a timeline too massive to effectively scan and learn from. if they follow only those Twitter users, who the Twitter Service recommends, then they end up following celebrities from Hollywood, Politics and Silicon valley (which means, people like us get ignored). For this reason, "suggested user list" started in 2009—which is one same list, more or less hand-picked, heavily weighted toward Silicon Valley figures and Hollywood celebrities, benefited Twitter, but didn't benefit it in real terms.

The following year, it started tracking patterns in who followed whom, and used that to target suggestions.

But in 2012, Twitter went towards syndication route and created Twitter buttons which the Publishers can place on their websites, blogs and allow a reader, even without a Twitter account, to follow the publishes, right from the website or blog. I can't say, how much Twitter benefited from this, but the publishers indeed benefited (someone who follows you on Twitter, from your website or blog, is more likely to respond to your Tweet on Twitter).

One of the good attributes of these buttons was that, Even if you don't tweet on a page—in fact, even if you don't have a Twitter account—those buttons allow Twitter to track which websites you visit, if you haven't or the publisher hasn't opted out. This surely may have benefited Twitter.

Conclusion: The journey of Twitter since its foundation in 2006, has seen it get surpassing the critical mass, finally reaching to 200 million users in 2012. It also kept on processing record number of Tweets, every next month, often surpassing the expert projections. But one thing which Twitter needs to do is increase its percentage of Active users and time spent on Twitter. Else it will stop at becoming a News braking site or a service for bloggers, marketers and businesses. --------

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