Lets make Twitter better

Twitter is one of the fastest way to get news and latest updates. It was launched 3-4 years ago and has gained a big traction since then. However, the service can be improved to give a better end-user experience:

Current Issues :

Although Twitter is widely used, it has some major inherent issues:

1. Managing tweets become very difficult. Even if a user follows 20-30 users, it becomes almost difficult to keep track of the information. This is partly because of over-information.

2. As a user, if I tweet something, my tweet goes to everyone who is following me. Usually I tweet about technology, Indian politics, World Economy, and Normal fun things. There is no way for my followers to get just World Economy tweets from me and not get Normal Fun stuff. Yes, they can search about some topic, but there is no inherent stream of topics (from me and others) that they would like to get and keep track of.

3. Duplication is a major problem on Twitter. Same story gets tweeted again and again by members and it appears in Search and in followed stream again and again. This is one more reason why there is so much of noise on Twitter.

4. Twitter is heavily targeted for tech people. @ and # are some of the things that make my head spin (I am a techie)..forget the normal person. System needs to be simple to use and easy to understand.

5. 140 character limit was good when a lot of conversation was happening on SMS. That is not the limitation today. Media (pictures, audio, video) should be included in a service like twitter.

6. Spam: Twitter is full of spam. A lot of fake ids are lurking around with biased or wrong information. If I want to get genuine information about Steve jobs ideas on Technology, there are many accounts and it becomes difficult to judge who is genuine and who is fake. New service must have tight control over spam and fake ids.

7. On Twitter, users are not “authentic”. There are a lot of clones that lead to spam. Also, its easier (or more intuitive) to have conversation with either “celebrities” or with close friends who we know in person. Current structure of Twitter fails in having conversation with “close friends”.

Solution (For some Issues) :

1. Provide relevant content in the stream. Remove spam.

*Spam means any content that is not relevant to the user at that point of time.

2. Enable users to have conversation related to the “meaningful” content. Note: Facebook does a good job of conversation but that is around “emotional” content rather than “intellectual or meaningful” content.

3. Enable users to find other users that have similar “background” or “interests”. Facebook does it but only for friends from school/work. Twitter does this for “interests” but lacks teeth.


Yahoo and its comeback

Yahoo is good at generating Content. In 90s it was a very good core competence to have but after the onset of social media (esp. blogs), generating content has become a commodity. Anyone can generate content…and thanks to Google and Twitter, this content can be searched/distributed by anyone across the globe. People do not have to go to big brands (like Yahoo) to find good content.

In this context, Yahoo’s core competence became irrelevant. It tried Search..then it tried Digg style ranking, and now a days it is trying to be social (with yahoo connect). My thoughts: For a company that is as big as Yahoo..these strategies will not be helpful. Remember…you can not beat them at their own games. What Yahoo needs to do is…play its own game and let people compete with it on its own turf. In business language: Develop a new core competence.

There is a general notion that “social/connection” is important. No doubt it is…but it is only as important as the content that is shared between the connections. So, in a view, “content” is more important than the “social”. Yahoo has a lot of content (its strength). What it needs to do is to find out a way so that the content can “connect” with the user. A lot of pattern learning, profile learning, and behavior analysis will be required for this. . To cite an example: Let us imagine a scenario where you go to the Yahoo site..and find stories breaking out (just like Twitter) that are very relevant to you. Will you not go to Yahoo again and again to see that? I will. And the best thing is that Yahoo has the resources to do that (another strength)

Yahoo, are you listening? I will love you for ever, if you are able to do that.



Core Competency and the buzz

Every successful company has a “core competency” that gives it the assets to be unique, strong, and ahead of the curve to beat the competition. Top managers know that “Core competencies can not be copied”. But still, sometimes the buzz around CEOs creates such a big pressure that they overlook the basic rules.

Social Media is the buzzword for the past several years. With Facebook taking the Silicon Valley by storm, a lot of people have started believing that every company should either have “Social” in their products or they are out of touch.


Core Competency: “Ability to connect users with each other in an informal way”


Core Competency: “Ability to distribute/broadcast content/information”


Core Competency: “Ability to find the meaning (context) of content/information”


Core Competency: “Ability to generate content/information”

All core competencies are good…but the business cycle makes importance of competencies go up and down with time. No matter what the business cycle is, the fundamental rule still holds: “Core competency can NOT be copied”. In layman’s terms: “You can not beat him in his own game”.

Let us see what these companies are doing now a days:

Facebook is pretty happy because the current buzz is “social”. They have to be careful because, with business cycle, the importance of their competency will change. Twitter also feels good, but somehow is being pulled into being “social”. Google is holding Search to its heart but is a bit disturbed by the “social” . I hope its not trying to copy Facebook’s core competency, else it will fail. Yahoo tried the “search”..and is now trying “social”..with no success.

So, what should the companies do?

Simple answer: Adhere to these 2 principles of Core Competencies:

1. Do not make a mistake and loose your own core competency. Remember, others can not beat you..but you can still loose (if you mess up).

2. Develop other (new) core competencies that are currently non-existent in the industry. Simply said: “Think beyond social”