Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

Where Twitter Stands Heading Into 2013

2013 keyAs Twitter continued throughout 2012 to be a stage on which global politics and culture played itself out, the company itself underwent some adjustments that give us a good indication of what users and brands can expect from the platform in 2013.

The power of the network did anything but fade. Celebrities continued to use it to connect one-on-one. Even the Pope signed on this year. It continued to fuel revolutions. It played an exponentially large factor in this US Presidential election. And around the world, the freedom to speak was challenged as users were fired, sued, sometimes even jailed for their tweets.

Expect more of the same in 2013, as Twitter has entrenched itself, for individuals, causes and brands, as the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to message the masses so some measure of impact can come from it. It’s changed everything, and it’s not finished.

These fun facts reveal the position of strength with which Twitter enters 2013:

  • It now generates a billion tweets every 2.5 days
  • It has 500 million+ users
  • The average Twitter user has tweeted 307 times
  • 32% of everyone using the Internet uses Twitter
  • It’s expected to bring in $540 million in ad revenue by 2014
  • 11 new accounts are created every second

High-level Executive Summary: people love it, people use it, and they’re going to keep loving and using it.

Whether or not outside developers love it is a different matter. 2012 marked a shift from welcoming the third party support that played at least some role in Twitter being so warmly embraced, to discouraging anything that replicates what Twitter can do itself…or plans to do itself. It’s not the open playground it once was. Now Twitter must spend 2013 proving it can innovate in-house and keep us just as entranced.

Likewise, Twitter is distancing itself from Facebook. Images from the #1 platform’s Instagram don’t work on Twitter anymore, and Twitter’s rolling out their own photo filter product. Where the two have lived in a “plenty of room for everybody” symbiosis up to now, 2013 could see the giants ramping up a full-on rivalry.

Twitter is exhibiting a deliberate strategy. Updates have centered on more visually appealing search results, and making finding and sharing content easier. Deals have been cut with some media entities so their content stands out. CEO Dick Costolo has said tweets aren’t the attraction, they’re what leads you to content. Twitter aims to be a key distributor of media and info. Add the addition of former News Corp. President Peter Chernin to the board, and their hashtag landing page experience for events, and their media behemoth ambitions get pretty clear.

There are challenges ahead and Costolo has also laid those out; entry into China, figuring out how to have Twitter deliver both comprehensive and relevant, targeted experiences, and the visualization of big data.

What does this mean for corporations? They can expect a more media-rich evolution and growing emphases on imagery. They can expect more opportunities to create great media content and leverage Twitter for its distribution. And they can expect new ways to surface in searches.

Are brands diving in? 56% of customer tweets to companies get completely and totally ignored. Ugh. A study Twitter recently conducted with Compete shows people who see tweets from retailers are more likely to buy a product. And, the more retailer tweets they see, the more likely they are to purchase on the retail site. As more of those tweets point to engaging media content from the brand, the results should get even better.

Twitter appears ready for 2013. Enterprise brands have some work to do.

@mikestiles
Photo Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net

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