They Just Don’t Get Twitter

Twitter raised another 200 million dollars this week at a valuation of 3.7 billion.  Yes thats billion with a B.  Read the full story here.

Most of you who read this blog, or did read this blog when I was trading, probably did for the market commentary, not my view on tech or society.  I’m no market “expert”, whatever that means, I’m am good trader, but I’m definitely not a learned source when it comes to technology.  I’m not even a first adopter, I’m what Howard likes to call a fast follower, like himself.  So I won’t comment on the business side of Twitter, what they might do with the cash, why they decided to raise this round now, I just don’t have an informed opinion.  I’ve got one for sure, just like everyone else, but you don’t need to hear it from me.

What I will talk about though is why many out there just don’t get Twitter and why it’s worth what it’s worth.  It simply comes down to this, Twitter has done an atrocious job of branding and advertising it’s value.

I would venture to guess a good portion of you don’t even use Twitter.  I know people who use StockTwits now but don’t see the value in Twitter.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the name Twitter?  Probably some dumb celebrity telling you what they ate for breakfast right?  I’m right.  In the early days Twitter benefited greatly from all the free press regarding celebrities using its platform.  It’s a huge burden now.  The average person on the street, and some not so smart people in the finance and tech worlds, still believe that Twitter’s main value is in the dissemination of content by the individual.

This is the message that Twitter has pushed, knowing or unknowingly, possibly just by not having a message at all about the value of the platform.  Twitter’s value for the average person is not in being able to transmit content, it is in being able to consume it.  This is a huge fundamental difference, think about it.

Let’s say you walked up to a random person on the street who had never heard of Twitter and gave them the following two pitches.

1.  There’s a product that let’s anyone read 140 character messages about whatever you want to talk about in real time.  Are you interested in using this?

2. There’s a product that let’s you follow in real time what important people,  news, and entertainment sources are saying and the articles they are linking to, and you can choose a la carte which to follow.  You can also communicate with them.  Are you interested in using this?

Tell me, which product sounds like it has more value?

This is Twitter’s issue today, the average person doesn’t realize that the platform’s value is not in them telling their friends what they ate for breakfast, it’s in them being able to follow the sources of information that make them smarter, make them laugh, and connect them in real time.  Yes the messaging aspect of the platform is nice, but that’s not where the real value is.

I’m going to use a really stupid example, but what I believe is an important one, because I think you guys can relate.  At the start of this NHL season, all of the New York Rangers beat writers finally found their way to Twitter.  It’s amazing, they tweet from behind the scenes, in the locker room, videos and audio of interviews with the players, stuff that you would never get in the morning newspaper.  The access in incredible, and I enjoy watching hockey that much more.

I don’t care what my best friend ate for breakfast.  Twitter should think about how it’s viewed and what it can do to mold it’s image.  There’s monster value here, and it deserves every penny of the valuation it fetched in this round of financing.  It’s just too bad not enough people get the chance to discover why.

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