Twitter has taken a mainstream role in pop culture but its CEO is striving to improve the service and have it reach more devices and engage more people.
Dick Costolo outlined Twitter’s goals, achievements and meaning at Mobile World Congress 2011 comparing the information network to the ubiquitous and usefulness of water. He said he wants Twitter to have the same functionality on every device, anywhere, adding that the Twitter experience isn’t the same on iPhone, Blackberry and Android. Costolo compared this to using a shower saying every time we use a different shower we don’t have to relearn how to use water.
Simple and Useful
"Our goals this year are that Twitter will be instantly useful. We want you to get a meaningful timeline right away," said Costolo. "We want the experience to be the same. I shouldn’t have to think about how to use Twitter…We want deep integrations into the platform. When you take a picture with a camera phone, you shouldn’t have to switch applications to tweet that photo."
He highlighted the importance of the mobile experience for Twitter users and noted that 40% of tweets are from mobile devices with 50% of Twitter users using multiple platforms.
Costolo continued the water analogy in explaining the meaning of Twitter and saying each tweet was like rain drop. There are billions of them but a single rain drop can hold tremendous meaning for some but nothing for others.
He said, “Some tweets are purely social and don’t have any extra meaning. This is where we’ve been criticized. What these criticisms miss is the distinctly personal connection of these tweets."
What Twitter has carved or stumbled upon is social context and how important that is for people as they sift through the mountains of data that appear in front of us everyday. As we try to make sense of all of this data, we need to shape it and contextualize it in order to evaluate it and give it meaning.
Costolo said the goal is to be simple and that is because Twitters users give order to their own universe and can constantly evolve their experience through following and unfollowing other Twitter users. Costolo sounds if he wants Twitter to be the least of the focus as its user focus on shaping their connections and interests into a service tailored to them. This ties into his ideas about deep platform integration noting that the Twitter just needs to work from smart devices to basic handsets with SMS services.
Costolo said: “With just a few social connections, a user is far more likely to become an engaged user. One of the things we have to do this year is shorten the distance between ‘awareness of Twitter’ and ‘engaged on Twitter.”
Revenue Through Engagement
This level of engagement is important to Twitter from a financial perspective as it is helping brands get in front of the right people with the right products and services but it will need to understand its users betters. Users that join Twitter and use it as a listening device are far less valuable to the company then people who are actively engaging with their community.
Costolo added that Twitter is making money. While that may be a vague statement, he certainly sounded like he understands his product and is clear on how he’d like to see the business grow.