Can Twitter Cross the Chasm?

Several years ago Geoffrey Moore wrote “Crossing the Chasm”, a fantastic book about why high tech companies need to use different marketing strategies to cross the chasm from the technical literate to the mainstream. In many ways, the same information applies to Twitter.

Since 2007, Twitter has seen a huge surge in the number of people using its service. These numbers were predicted to continue into 2010 but that hasn’t transpired. Instead, Twitter’s growth slowed to a reported 3.5% in October. Not good if you’re Twitter but I think there’s a good reason.

Twitter has enjoyed a lot of success amongst marketing, tech, and media professionals. Even celebrities have jumped on board. This created a huge frenzy but it appears we’ve all been talking inside our own echo chamber – promoting our love of Twitter to people already on Twitter. The mainstream public has failed to jump on board but this doesn’t mean that Twitter is dead in the water. It just means they need to adjust their marketing strategies so they can cross the chasm.

What Can Twitter Do to Cross the Chasm?

  • Make Life Easier for Noobies: When you sign up for an account it is difficult to figure out what to do next. It took me almost a year after I created my Twitter account before I used it. Twitter could help itself out by understanding the interests of new users and suggesting people and lists to follow based on those interests. Get people engaged early and they’ll better understand the hype surrounding Twitter.
  • Why Should I Use Twitter? Perceptions have formed around what Twitter is but until you use it, it’s impossible to understand the benefits. Here’s two examples:
    • Introverts Welcome: There’s a perception that you need to be an extrovert to use Twitter. This is horribly inaccurate. The best part about Twitter is that you can stay on the sidelines. You can follow your favorite author or sports start. You can hear from the people at ground zero of a natural disaster and see what charities are doing to help. Twitter needs to inform people of the benefits of using it’s service even if you don’t post a single Tweet.
    • More than Status Updates: Right now, Twitter is one of the best news sites on the planet. It’s also one of the best ways to find new content to read on topics that interest you. It’s great for getting the inside track on your TV shows, movies, and other entertainment. Unfortunately, a stigma has been attached to Twitter by the mainstream that it’s a bunch of status updates about what someone had for breakfast or when they’re feeding their dog. This couldn’t further from the truth. Again, the benefits need to be more obvious.
  • Better UI: The Twitter UI comes from the early days when we were all supposed to be answering the question “what are you doing”. Twitter is so much more than this and the Twitter UI needs to reflect it.
  • Build Microsites: Why not have a Twitter news site? How about a sports fan site? Twitter should leverage it’s own stream to build sites on topics that interest the mainstream public. The mainstream doesn’t know 1% of the information flowing through Twitter on a daily basis. Show them what they’re missing.
  • Move Beyond Text: People like to share photos and videos. There are Twitter apps for this but the mainstream public doesn’t know. Expand the service to use other media and make it easy to share with people who don’t use Twitter. They’ll see the benefits of the service and sign up for their own account.

There are many ways which Twitter can regain it’s growth but it’s clear that it’s marketing strategies need to change to expand beyond it’s current user base and into the mainstream public. Twitter has time to make this happen but it needs to do so soon while it still has the momentum.

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