Tweeting, like Facebooking or Orkuting, began quite like the ‘yo’ word that should make people sit up and take notice of social media and all the magical things that it can do. But somehow, the youngest of the lot has managed to pick up significantly in India. And we are not just talking about the media and advertising fraternity. In the media and advertising fraternity, media brands and professionals are quite heavy on the Twitter – Facebook had seen similar success in the fraternity and outside too, but Twitter is making national waves.
Let’s dwell on Twitter for a while. Everything about it is simple – no crazy applications in your face, or games and quizzes or contests, which make platforms like Facebook really hot with many. No video or audio sharing or intriguing requests or developing one’s own social “network”. Really, it is only about status updates – that’s it. It reminds one of the old saying that the biggest ideas are simple at the core – that is their brilliance.
Now of course, Twitter is trying all kinds of things – a media hub, a form of advertising like Google had, talking to media companies for integration, working with Nielsen to make sense of audience migration between mediums via tweets... so, they are quite the busy lot right now, but we still have to see where all this will take them. That’s a different story. The story to focus on right now is Twitter’s first half in 2010 (things change in seconds these days, best to be specific)...
Whenever Twitter would look back at its history in India, 2010 first half would make it proud. Thanks to tweeting, Shashi Tharoor has been one of the most talked about politicians in the last few months. And while Tharoor was doing a good job of surviving all the flak that was hurled at him from all directions for his tweets, one tweet from IPL Commissioner (sorry, ex-Commissioner) Lalit Modi, and Tharoor had to step down from his post as Minister of State for External Affairs. But Tharoor’s stepping down looks small compared to what has fallen on Modi himself, and thanks to that one tweet. The influence and power that Modi had become, courtesy the unparalleled success of Indian Premier League (IPL), couldn’t save him from charge after charge coming from BCCI and just about everyone else.
The little blue bird ended up singing terror songs for anyone associated with IPL. Now, that is a new ‘new’ for a social networking platform. Twitter has cut the ice in India and how.
First half of 2010 would also mark an emerging competition of sorts for Twitter. A few months ago, some thought that Twitter would suffer when digital giant Google had launched Buzz. Similar concept – status messages, follow and be followed. In a sense, Buzz was even cooler than Twitter – simpler display, much on the same page, pic already on if you have a Gmail account. Buzz even had the advantage of beginning with a significantly large database. So frankly, I don’t blame those who thought Buzz would create problems for Twitter. But, surprisingly, Buzz has no buzz left (again, I am focussing on first half of 2010). One doesn’t hear of it, it is not picking up like one would have thought, and if anything at all, Twitter seems to be hotter and hotter. I mean, news channels reporting Sachin Tendulkar’s historic record of followers on Twitter, how much more mileage could Twitter ask for, and imagine how many more are going on further sign on.
So, Google’s Buzz is not looking good right now. One may argue that new initiatives take time, but who knows better than Google that that the luxury of time doesn’t exist today. You kick or get kicked. That said, I am keen to see how Buzz moves forward. But I am even keener to see how successful Twitter is with its monetisation plans, integration with media plans and most importantly, decoding how to make digital dollars, rather than pennies, finally.