My graduation project was building a protocol that relied on Bluetooth for content delivery, Bluetooth’s limited range worked in my advantage as I was able to tell the approximate location of my users, thus I was able to deliver location specific information/ads/messages, the solution included features such as “presence” allowing other people to locate each other, you could even chat using the protocol, which was based on a server and clients each covering a certain room or area. Back then Twitter didn’t exist and Facebook was a medium sized emerging social network with limited yet growing potential, As I reflect today I realize that twitter has all the services my protocol provided, making it a content delivery tool, I believe Twitter should be considered an extra layer in the layers that make the internet rather than a product that sits on top of them, the potential of this layer is infinite, in this entry I’m going to go over the some of the possible applications of that layer.
First of all Social Networks provide a wealth of information like nothing else, users contribute adding their foot print, talking about things that excite or frustrate them on services such as twitter all of this data is available freely for anyone to mine extracting valuable information that can be used to guide the market into satisfying the potential customers needs. Furthermore it simplifies classifying users/potential customers, reading through someone’s tweets is enough to know the market segment this user belongs to, and thus which products he’d be interested in, and its all there available freely online, I don’t think marketeers ever had such a huge pool of data available to them, perhaps that’s why they aren’t using it to its full potential. the other problem of course would be lack of tools that can facilitate data harvesting and automated content delivery on twitter.
Twitter originally was designed for its users to be able to publish short text messages, soon enough photo sharing was enabled through services such as pic.ly and yfrog, geo-tagging features and DMs were enabled. However if you look at it as a protocol rather than a service you can see that its hardly limited to that, in a way its a 2 way communication channel that support meta-data that include geo-tags. Using that assumption you can build services that ravels foursquare using minimal infrastructure. Off the top of my head I can think of this Geocaching game service that can be built on top of twitter, where the virtual caches are actually tweets that should be published from certain locations, even better, marketeers can know when exactly to target certain product followers based on the location of their last tweet. As in whenever someone tweets about being hungry while being around a certain chain of restaurants they follow they get a short message inviting them in, you can incentivize following such accounts by providing give aways for people who tweet around them, such incentives can go to people who meet the average customer profile for such a service ensuring maximum impact per dollar given away. The potential of using twitter as a messaging infrastructure is infinite, its only limited by how resourceful you are.
Twitter has chosen to be neutral from day one, choosing not to use the play the role Facebook is playing, so far it chose not to influence what gets developed on top of it, furthermore they enabled developers to access all the features available in twitter, thus choosing to become more of a protocol than a service. I believe that’s why Twitter is taking over the market, its not competing with other social networks, they are providing a layer that can be used to build social services on top off, all the others are interested in controlling that they don’t. In a way twitter is closer to an SMS service than it is to say Facebook, an accessible easy to integrate with platform that can be used to rapidly deliver short messages with various degrees of privacy. Several services/tools appeared that take advantage of that, however so far there aren’t a single all in one tool that can be used by say marketeers to automate twitter usage, While searching for a tool I came over several tools that could do either a limited form of reputation analysis or twitter content delivery, however I wasn’t able to find tools that could facilitate automated interaction with users, or use the meta-data present in every tweet.
As a proof of concept I built a service that facilitates communication, it shows that twitter can be used for purposes as a communication channel rather than a service. The ones it was originally designed for, for instance it can run trivia contests, and the Geo-caching (scavenger hunts) I talked about earlier. Twitter Marketeer allows its user to automate interactions with his followers using simple and set rules.