Twitter lists — what they’re really about +

Twitter lists have hit the interwebz recently. Cool, I guess.

Everyone’s talking about whether they should be public or private, if it’s all just another pissing popularity contest, how the “a-list” is getting even more popular, if it means this or that… None of it matters.

What everyone hasn’t yet picked up on (but they will, eventually) is this: Twitter just added people tagging. What? Yes, people tagging.

And it couldn’t be easier, and the users aren’t even aware they’re doing it, and practically every existing and future twitter user will do it at some point. Just imagine the power of having that kind of data. Every user tagged with their interests, location, whatever you need. It’s priceless.

Think about it. Twitter is (mostly) about people. To create a list, you need to name it. Adding someone to that created list is just a click away, and you’ve just made a “tagging” statement about that person. You’ve assigned a topic/name/whatever (a tag) to a person.

Now Twitter will know how (what/who/when/with etc.) others associate with you. And they’ll know what you associate with others. Those tags describe you, and your group to the point of being practically exact science (after a while of gathering data). That means your and actions of those around you become easily predictable — or at the very least — “guidable”.

Once they have that kind of data, getting a 1$ or 10$ revenue per user (that’s Twitter’s “plan”) is peanuts. No one else has that kind of data. It’s no wonder every major player in the business decided to strike a deal about “real-time data” with them.

What they’ve done with the API ecosystem is equally amazing. The Twitter experience has nothing to do with the website, and everything to do with applications built by third-party developers. That’s for a reason too — you can’t focus on the core of your business while you’re being pestered with phone X not supporting feature Y or browser Z not playing nice on platform W.

The core business is gathering and munging incredible amounts of structured data about people, not relaying 140-character-long messages. Don’t forget that.

One Response to “Twitter lists — what they’re really about”

  1. Very interesting article. I thought that twitter won’t become service where you have to pay attention what you’re writing and what list you are member of, like on facebook. Realized that I was wrong.