It is fair to say few people were more critical of Twitter than I. With pithy tag lines like “Join the conversation” and 140 characters to communicate, it seemed silly. Hell, it was silly.
Amassing large followers for any but a few high-profile celebrities remained a course in round-trip circle jerking. You follow me and I will follow you. This resulted in neither one following what the other had to say. A friend of mine followed over 4000 people and they dutifully returned the favor, creating so much noise that he had to create a new account for the “real” people he wanted to follow.
The silliness actually started with the inane “What Are You Doing” phrase above the Tweet box. As a conversational tool, Twitter sucks. Sorry to be so blunt, but the originators had no idea what made Twitter social. It was not the “dialog” or “conversation” aspect that made Twitter a social phenomenon, it was the SHARING of information that made it social.
Retweeting (RT for short) made sharing of information simple, easy and potentially revolutionary. But it was not the Twitter founders who invented RT; it was the users. One of the founders admitted that Twitter users were telling them what Twitter wanted to be.
Along the way, a few Tweeters discovered that they could become de facto editors and select the best articles and Blogs from around the world and Tweet links to them. What started out as “micro-blogging” turned into “micro-publishing.” A micro-publication that selects the best of the best from around the world should make conventional publishers very nervous because it’s difficult to compete with a custom-edited world view.
These Twitter micro-publications should also put a scare into the “pay-for-content” camp because there is so much content from which to choose that a good editor can deliver all-killer, no-filler quality links to his audience. (I will be writing an article about this topic in the near future).
The age of curation is here, which, in combination with HUMAN editorial sensibilities, helps organize the chaos of too much information. There are hundreds of technological ways to organize information, but human editors with human sensibilities can develop real followers. Their currency is their taste. Their intention is to share.
Building and directing audiences is the future of journalism. Where to direct them becomes the key to creating a viable economic model. Presently, followers are directed to an article’s point of origination. Soon this will give way to content being consumed in the only place that can bear the cost burden associated with creating the content and aggregating the audience: the advertiser’s website or microsite.
The content creator will receive a royalty, the audience builders will take their cut, and the advertiser will subsidize the ecosystem like they always have. In the process, the manner in which the audience is engaged will be transformed, with advertisements evolving from mere intermediaries to meaningful destinations. With content and visitor bundled together and sent to an advertiser’s site to read a story, hear a song or view a video, Twitter will become a platform that both directs attention and converts intention.
This is the real Twitter revolution.