What you see in the picture above is what Twitter.com looks like for any non-Twitter user.
This is a wasted opportunity for Twitter, which is currently trying to figure out how to take advantage of the fact that it’s a mainstream product thriving with a relatively niche group of users.
On Twitter’s earnings call a few days ago, CEO Dick Costolo stressed that Twitter is a part of the mainstream. He said, “In the two days after the Oscars, there were over 3.3 billion views of tweets just about the show.”
Both things are true: Twitter is part of society, but it’s still a niche service in terms of hardcore users.
The problem for Twitter is that it is not what everyone thought it was. While many people thought of Twitter has a Facebook-like service, it turns out it’s something different. It might be more like YouTube, than Facebook.
What do we mean by that? YouTube is all about user-generated content. It’s a broadcasting site that has a social element. Similarly, Twitter is built on user generated content that is broadcast to users. And just like YouTube clips are embedded across the web, Tweets are embedded across the web.
As a result, Twitter has an opportunity to pursue a YouTube-like strategy with its home page. Twitter’s home page should change to reflect the Tweets being sent out by its most popular users. Just like going to YouTube.com delivers a bunch of suggested videos, going to Twitter.com should deliver the most popular tweets and topic-based verticals.
We’re sure Twitter is already thinking about something like this since it’s what it did for Vine.co. Vine is its short form video service that lets users create 6-second clips. Vine.co has aggregated the best Vine videos by topic. We would think Twitter would do the same thing for Twitter.com.
This would actually be a back to the future strategy for Twitter. It used to have a stream of Tweets on its home page.
This, of course, wouldn’t be some sort of cure-all for Twitter. People still think of the site as a Facebook-like service. And traffic to a website isn’t likely to be as engaging as people hitting refresh over and over on a mobile app.
But the challenge for Twitter is to figure out how to take advantage of the fact that it is a mainstream service, even if it has a relatively niche user base. By making its home page a lively, informative broadcast platform that it can easily monetise, it can shake some of the misconceptions about its value to the world.
As for investors, they’re going to have to reset their expectations. Twitter is not Facebook. It’s something else. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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