Thursday, August 29, 2013

The coming age of Twitter

Every few years we have gurus and shamans predicting that the next big thing in ecommerce, human communication, innovation etc surprisingly close to the IPOs of these 'next big things'. Last frenzy and orgasmic rapture was around 6 months before the Facebook IPO. At that time we (yes me included) were talking about the Facebook social graph and the impact on advertising and ecommerce. What followed was amusing, debatable to death and like my younger colleagues say "Meh". So then why am I writing this piece about the coming of age of Twitter? Maybe it is because I believe this time we have some story that is heading towards that 'googlian' moment when there is a cataclysmic shift in the balance of power. I might have cake on my face in 2 years time, but I want to take my chances.

My good friend and entrepreneur +ashish bhansali has always claimed that Twitter never had a business model when they went around asking for money. It is his excuse for never wanting to write a bplan for anything he wants to do. Not having a business plan ( assuming Mr Bhansali is correct about Twitter) might have been a good thing for Twitter. All this while they were just a microblogging site where one ranted, after the Arab Spring they have earned their stars as a tool for revolution (We Indians are making a mess of how we use it for political gains, that apart).

Earlier this year they launched Twitter Music, Yesterday they say they have acquired Trendrr - a company that harnesses the power of  real time data for media and advertising. In addition they have launched the 'conversations' view which allows for people to read their tweets as a threaded view. Most importantly they announced that they have a new man on board for ecommerce - a new that seems to be well planned considering the movements Twitter has made in the last 6 months or so.

Ecommerce on Twitter would be absolutely great considering we users have a natural tendency to buy impulsively things like movie tickets and digital goods based on recommendations and conversations around us. Twitter for the last one year has been my sole destination when I want to read about reviews of movies - when Dark Knight Rising was released, I spent a few hours just reading what people were saying. OKListen can use Twitter to track the next concert of their indie artists and advertise and sell track right on Twitter. Today most of this means that there are 2-4 steps in between interest, intent and actual sale. With Twitter removing that middle layer, it can mean better conversions.

My prediction is that there would be a new way of selling that would come to Twitter through its program for retailers who would be able to target users who have tweeted in the past about goods or services. A sort of a Flash Sale exclusively available on Twitter that can be completed right on Twitter itself using payment platforms like Gumroad. So potentially since I tweeted about buying a phone earlier this month, Twitter could track the tweet and crunch that data to throw up a good deal when I am shopping next and tweet saying that I am in a mall, or I check in. Since we are already slaves to broadcasting our every move, it would be self serving to use it to the advantage of a product that wants to claim my wallet at the time when I am agreeable to spending. I guess the next stage would be to integrate with the offline retail stores and complete the fullfilment cycle. You can opt to buy the phone after paying via Twitter or by getting a discount at the local store. The potential is huge. 

My predictions for Twitter are as follows:

  • Flash Sales becomes the new buzz
  • Twitter will end up buying Gumroad ( +Mohak Gambhir - hat tip for pointing this out)
  • A square like POS solution in the next 2 years
  • A messenger service that leverages the conversations feature
  • Buy a social listening company to help brands track the chatter better
Twitter has already shaken up the news business, with ecommerce and entertainment being next, the age of twitter has arrived. I hope they do not muck it up.

Maybe now Amazon must be thinking of entering the social micro chat space :)

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1 comment:

Ashish Bhansali said...

So apart from 'twitcommerce' coming up, good to see you back to 'blogging'.