If ten years ago you had told me, or anyone else, that one of the most popular websites in the world would be a social network that limits your posts to 140 characters, everyone would have said you were crazy.
Flash forward to 2013 and Twitter has just launched a successful IPO that raised $1.8 billion and has over 500 million users who Tweet an average of 58 million times per day. So what is it that makes Twitter so popular?
Besides the fact that Twitter’s IPO went a whole lot smoother than Facebook’s, the two sites are inherently different and both have taken advantage of what they are good at to gain popularity. Facebook is about interacting with people you know, staying in touch, posting status updates and looking at pictures. Twitter has this element as well, but it lets you do it with complete strangers. This allows for users to tailor an experience that is unique to them by choosing who they follow and who they interact with. It’s a contextualized and personal experience. Let’s face it, which is more interesting, another baby picture from that person you used to work with, or up to the minute updates on your favorite sports team or constant jokes from your favorite comedian?
The thing that works so well for Twitter is that once it gets a sense of who you are and what types of things you are interested in, it will suggest other Twitter users for you to follow that fall into those same categories. Essentially it is taking bits and pieces of information that you provide, and turning that into the most relevant experience for you as an individual.
Think of your website like being on Twitter. Instead of limiting yourself to 140 characters though, you can say whatever you want, however you want it. The tricky part is the same message isn't going to apply to every single one of your visitors, just like how tweets from the reigning queen of Twitter, Katy Perry won’t resonate with everyone. So it’s up to you to know your visitors and show them a message that they will respond to and be interested in. This is different than how it was even a few years ago. People were pretty much okay with a standard message for everyone. Thanks to sites like Twitter, more personalized messages have become the norm, and at this point you are already behind if you haven’t started to do this. Developing personas are a great first step in this process and you can learn some helpful tips about that right here.
Now, I’m not saying that this will immediately launch your website into the same conversation as Twitter, but it’s an interesting way to look at how you are presenting messages on your website. There probably aren't two people in the world that are having the same exact Twitter experience, so when they visit your site why would they want the same exact thing someone else is seeing? I happen to be one of those 500 million users so if you want to follow me on Twitter @seanhowe1, feel free!