The Lie That Will Ultimately Kill Facebook

Yesterday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to an audience at the TechCrunch Crunchie awards about privacy and their descision to automatically make all content open and publicly available by default.

His statement and reasoning is that privacy is no longer a “social norm”.  Essentially that we should assume everything we say and do will be made publicaly available.

Bullshit.

This is an all-out lie, plain and simple.

The reasoning for Facebook to open up their content – and actually their users content – to the public is about money and nothing else.

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Brilliant Move by Twitter: Allowing Big 3 to DataMine

It came to light today that Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft (and by default, Yahoo!) that would allow open access to Twitter’s Data feed.

The aparent non-exclusive deal that Twitter is signing would allow the Search Engine Heavyweights to display and monetize twitter results along side of regular search engine results.

This is an absolute brilliant move by Twitter on multiple fronts; Establishing a foothold in the “real time” search realm, monetizing their extremely popular service, and also reducing future possible development costs.

 

A Win-Win for both sides

As I’ve said before, Twitter’s strength lies in Search and real time data.

Up until now, in order to take advantage of it’s unique position, Twitter would need to develop a very intuititive – and expensive – search algorythm Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have spent years and billions of dollars developing.

On the other side of that coin, the big three search engines would need to invest an equally large amount of money creating, marketing, and maintaining a service in size and scope to match Twitter.

Now, with this agreement, both sides can take advantage of this new found arena of search… real-time.

A monetization method for Twitter

In addition to the market share Twitter will be receiving from this deal, it also answers the very old question of  Twitter’s monetization strategy. 

This is something that Twitter has been grappling with for a while… how to monetize it’s vast amounts of data and subscriber base WITHOUT alienating it’s users by placing ads within the content.

The monetization of this deal will come two fold:  First, there’s the licensing fee from the search engines which will probably total in the Millions of dollars.  Second, Twitter will more than likely construct a deal that allows them a share of the ad revenue other sites would use to display the service.

So, in a sense, Twitter would be making money off advertising, without having to worry about those pesky ads.

Why Twitter is Significant

Twitter LogoIt seems lately that on almost a weekly basis I get asked or overhear someone talking about how they don’t understand what the all fuss is about Twitter.

At first Glance, this is a rather obvious and understandable statement.  After all, what can you REALLY do with 140 characters?  Just take a look at this article on CNN Money as a perfect example of this mis-understanding.

The problem is that people are viewing Twitter at face value… a free, easy to use service that asks the simple question – “What are you doing?” – in 140 characters or less.

But wait… did you catch that?  Those four little words in the previous sentence:

“What are you doing?”

In other words, what are you doing RIGHT NOW.  What is happening AS WE SPEAK.

You see, Twitter is significant because it’s the first real-world implementation of the Real-Time Web.  It allows people to see what is going on in the world while it is happening.  Not hours later during the evening news, not when the paper comes out tomorrow morning, or even after a blogger writes a story about it… it’s happening right now.

The 140 character limitation actually adds to its success in this field.  It keeps the message short and quick…

“Earthquake in LA… walls are rattling, but it seems like it’s subsiding”

Sure, most “Tweets” are pretty boring… I mean, who really cares what you’re eating for lunch, or what you think of the movie you’re currently watching… or, maybe they do?

If you’re a restaurant owner, you can get instant feedback from people while they’re eating their food.  If you’re in line to buy tickets to a movie, you can find out what other people thought of it while they’re watching.  Or, in more recent current events… View reports of beatings during the Iranian protests.

Twitter as a company itself, like most companies, probably won’t be around forever.  But what it represents is a sea change for the web and how we communicate.  You’ve already begun to see how this is changing the way we communicate and do business.

Not since Google has another company changed the landscape of the web like Twitter has.  So, the question is… What are you doing?

Is Twitter the Google-Killer we’ve been looking for?

Twitter Replacing GoogleThere are literally hundreds of thousands of articles on, about, or around Twitter.  Most of them have to do with the communication side of things.

It is a change-agent to the way we communicate and consume information from person-to-person.

However, what most people don’t realize is Twitter’s real future, may lie in search… in one form or another.  More info after the jump.

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A Revenue Model (or two) for Twitter

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for the past year or so, you’ve probably realized that Twitter has been one of the biggest influences on web culture in years.  It’s changed the way we communicate, how we think scaling applications, and launched countless startups based on it’s api.

Now, there have been countless blog posts, articles, and essays on this subject, so I’m obviously not breaking any ground here.  But, I thought it would be interesting to put my own two cents into the mix and propose a revenue model of my own.

Build Now, Pay Later

One thing Twitter hasn’t been able to nail down (at least publicly) is a revenue model.   They’re the poster-child of the web 2.0 “build now, monetize later” strategy so typical of startups in the past few years.  But, in today’s economy, this simply won’t fly.

To be honest, I never understood this approach to application development.  Now, I do understand the whole “design for design’s sake” mentality. However, if you’re going to take it beyond something that you can enjoy with friends or family, there has to be something supporting it.

Vertical Discussion

With the election only a few months ago, one of the most fascinating and extremely addictive I visited (on a daily basis) was Election.twitter.com.  This site provided me with something I couldn’t find anywhere else on the web; instant feedback on debates, polling results, commercials… really anything in or around the election.

Now, what if they took this same approach and applied it to other events or industries?

The 30k ft view here is to create communities or discussion groups around a specific topic or industry that provides like minded users to discuss their passion in real time.

As a case study, let’s look at Professional sports – and more specifically… the upcoming Superbowl.

 Here we have an opportunity to provide enthusiasts a way to instantly communicate in real time, as the event is happening.  Now, all those arm chair coaches and referees have an opportunity to voice their opinions to something other than the TV or their friends and family.

The revenue opportunity here could be from sponsored pages, in-stream advertising (sponsored tweets), or market research.

TweetSense?

CPC Text Ads have become an extremely effective advertising vehicles.  After all, Google has built an empire out of those simple, unobtrusive, yet targeted text ads in search results.  Why not take this same approach and apply it to sponsored tweets?

Now, this is obviously a very sensitive area to croach in on, and if it’s not done right, it can do more bad than good. 

The ads would need to be easily identifiable as advertising and few enough to not impede on the user experience.

Since they’re text ads, it would provide an excellent opportunity for an automated system, similar to Adsense, where advertisers could quickly and easily create, purchase, and manage their own ads online.  It would also provide an excellent opportunity for a partnership between Google, Yahoo!, or any other well established ad management infrastructures out there.

Final Words

With the current economic situation, I think 2009 will see some sort of revenue stream come to Twitter.  They’ve obviously been planning something, but I think under the current circumstances, their investors will be looking for something sooner than later.

Twitter Updates It’s Design!… But Still No Search?

Well Well Well… I logged in to Twitter this afternoon to go on a little rant about the new McCain campaign ads and got a nice little suprise… Twitter updated it’s interface.

UI and AJAX

Most of the changes in the interface center around the navigation elements, and I have to say they are definately an improvement.  I especially like the Following, Followers, and Updates section on the top right hand side.   Because, if you’re like me… that’s the first thing you look at when you log on.  It’s always a nice little ego boost (or killer) when it changes.

They also added a few back-end performancing enhancements in the form of AJAX additions.  While this isn’t a big improvement, every little addition counts.

Be Different… Like Everyone Else.

In addition to the AJAX and navigation additions, they also included some improved design customizations as well.  Aside from the normal “add your own background images” (which never worked well), they added a few pre-made background designs to help liven up your profile.

Doh!… No Search.

The one thing I don’t understand is why they didn’t integrate their newly acquired search capabilities?  This is the one feature I was looking forward to in an update and you would think it would be pretty simple… just add a form that redirects people to search.twitter.com.

But, at the same time, I do realize that they have a good reason for this… I’m just a little bummed.

Either way, Great job guys! Keep those updates coming!

P.S.  No Screenshot… server is acting wonky.

Lifecasting as an Organic “About Us” Page.

With the relatively recent popularity of “lifecasting” applications, there’s been a lot of discussion in the Blog community lately about the future of the “traditional” blog medium. Many argue that blogging has lost it’s social roots and with the popularity of applications such as Twitter and Plurk, the medium may be well on it’s way to being obsolete. Below are a few notes on my position of this discussion and a possible new concept I’ve been experimenting with.

A Complement, Not A Replacement

First and foremost, I think it’s rather ridiculous to think that an application such as Twitter will ever take the place of a blog. In my opinion, lifecasting applications work more like post-it notes in 140 characters or less… not a conversation like blogging is. And yes, you could have a conversation on an application like Twitter… but, have you ever tried it? It’s virtually impossible to keep up with the constant stream of information.

That being said, I do believe that lifecasting is and will be an important part of the blogging medium. Not as a replacement, but as a complement. It’s another way of connecting with your audience on a more personal level. A way to not only tell your visitor who you are, but show them who you are by allowing them to follow you throughout the day.

A New Approach

One thought I’ve been playing around with lately is the concept of using Twitter, Plurk, or other lifecasting applications as an ongoing and organic “About Us” page.

The concept is rather simple. Anyone today can start a blog or web site in a matter of minutes – for little to no cost – and claim to be an expert on any given subject. Typically, the only information a visitor has to confirm the blogger or site owner’s credentials is an about us page; Which – as most of you know – can created as easily as copy/paste. This in turn, causes an automatic distrust for new sites and bloggers.

But, what if you could provide your visitors with a stream of information that includes not only who you are, but what you do as well; Sites you visit, blog comments you make, sites you bookmark, etc. It could provide them with more information to subscribe or just hit the back button.

Support For My Theory

Case in point is how I use Twitter in conjunction with my Blog at Addoursearch.com. I actually have two twitter accounts; twitter.com/addoursearch and twitter.com/tpeterson. The addoursearch username is used strictly for blog posts and business purposes… kind of like a hybrid RSS reader. At the time of writing I only have about 17 followers on this account, even though it has much more exposure to a larger audience through the blog. On the other hand, I have over 305 followers in about the same (active) timeframe to my personal tpeterson account.

Now, both accounts are being populated with my blog posts through TwitterFeed. However, in addition to the blog posts, I also add random thoughts and observations throughout the day to my tpeterson account. What I’ve found is that not only have my personal account followers been increasing at a much faster rate, I’ve also seen a much higher repeat click-thru’s to my blog as well.

So, why is this? Why are my follower rates increasing and why are the click thru’s so high?
My theory is that people see who I am and what I do on a daily basis, therefore they tend to trust the information I’m going to provide for them on my blog.

Your Opinion?

Now, since my personal Twitter account is just that… personal, I haven’t actually implemented this theory into practice on the blog. Giving hundreds, if not thousands of people access to my daily life can be a double edge sword. Not only personally, but professionally as well.

Please feel free to comment