Twitter’s new face

Twitter has been experimenting with several features on its home page, but the latest one does a good job of highlighting the Twitterati who are active across topics. This is certainly better than trying to get attention by highlighting just a few tweets on trending topics. It gives a good idea of the kind of tweets to expect and helps determine whether they are worth following. The only hassle is that this view disappears the moment you sign in and the only way to access it again is by signing out altogether. So, you’re stuck in the normal ‘discovery’ mode, which is not a great way to check new profiles. Yes, I know there are lists and interests and there’s even a ‘social newspaper‘ but it would help to have a ‘profile stream’ like the one on the homepage so that you can sample before you follow.

While Twitter has made the leap from idle narcissism to real-time news breaker, it still remains on the fringes of daily interest. You may check out Twitter every day if you are a heavy user and see if your following has increased but I suspect it acts more as a public bookmark for people who tweet links and photos. The gurus on Twitter have made the point that Twitter is more a broadcasting platform than a social one and I suspect they are right. Which also explains why people are not as heavily involved with Twitter as they are on Facebook. You may tune into the people who you follow but Guy Kawasaki was disarmingly frank when he said he never reads a single tweet, except the ones that are marked privately to him. On Twitter, he has an unending stream of automated tweets, all driving traffic to his news site Alltop.

So, how can Twitter make money when it is a new age broadcaster with millions of personal ‘stations’ or channels? It’s hard to be really engaged with the site. If it is simply about people posting interesting links, there are several other eye-catching ways to trawl the net. Of the thousands of tweets that came out from Egypt at the height of the ‘revolution’, there was more media frenzy than actual involvement. Twitter has had big time stars talking about it and media fawning over the tweets but it has not resulted in any real money flow, even with the so-called sponsored tweets. And it still has a valuation in billions of dollars. I wonder what the parameters are.