If I offered you a highly targeted opt-in list of potential customers and key opinion leaders who would promote the content in your publications, what would you be willing to pay per name in the list? What if I told you there was no cost and furthermore, I’ll include metrics on who promoted your content along with a profile of that individual? Sounds pretty interesting, right?
This is one of the benefits of Twitter, as well as other social networks. But, wait a minute, didn’t a report commissioned by Yahoo! just find that Twitter is a media platform and not a social network? Well, some of the headlines I read made it sound that way, but the actual report, Who Says What to Whom on Twitter, confirms earlier research that found that “Twitter more closely resembled an information sharing network than a social network”. That’s not the same as saying it’s not a social network.
Twitter is of course a social network: the platform is interactive and users decide whom to follow. That’s enough to make it a social network. Granted, Twitter differs from FaceBook in that following does not have to be reciprocal. So, I may choose to follow the feed of a publication that interests me, say for example, @TheEconomist, but the Economist may not find value in following me. In this respect, Twitter resembles a media platform, since a large part of the population uses Twitter to receive information, not publish information.
It should be noted that a key finding of the Who Says What report is that infomediaries play an important role on Twitter. [The authors use the terms ‘intermediaries’ and ‘opinion leaders’, but I prefer infomediary.] For example, I may chose not to follow @NYTimes because I know my friend @KentBottles will provide tweets that cover stories of interest to me from the Times. Kent becomes the infomediary –or curator—for content from The New York Times for me.
Okay, we’ve established that Twitter is a social networking and media platform. Now consider that it is particularly well-suited for mobile and local applications. Let’s see, if I spell out the benefits and features I’ve mentioned above, we can say that Twitter is:
“a social local mobile real-time amplifier and audience building curation tool that offers detailed usage metrics and is available at no cost”.
So why have publishers been so slow to apply Twitter? The problem is that Twitter is many things to many people, which makes it very difficult to classify. Trying to classify it as either a social network or media platform doesn’t make sense. It’s both and more. My advice to publishers is to focus on its amplification capabilities for existing content. I recommend this podcast with David Meerman Scott, Ian Condry, Michael Bird and Gary Halliwell to get some other expert opinions on this topic. And note that I commented on the podcast page, which NetProspex’s marketing team then posted as a separate blog and tweeted it. Amplification, indeed!
Most of the Twitter presentations I see are targeted to marketers and advertisers, not publishers, and I’m considering preparing a seminar on the value of Twitter to healthcare and B2B publishers from my perspective as a consultant who focuses on effective business models for data producers/publishers. Please contact me to let me know if you would be interested. If there’s enough interest, I’ll develop a seminar that can be presented onsite or offsite.