I was trying to explain twitter yesterday to a friend who had never heard of it and seeing his blank incomprehension resorted to “it’s like status updates on steroids”. He got it but it made me think – if twitter is so hard to explain what IS the point?
One of the defining characteristics of a great idea is whether it passes the elevator pitch test. Can you describe in 15 seconds what it’s all about and why it’s so compelling in a way that anyone can understand?
Facebook easily passes this test. I asked a 7-year old what she thought it was all about the other day. Remember she’s never used it, just heard her family and other adults about her talk about it. She very succinctly said “it’s a page on the internet and it’s for when you want to let your friends know what you’re doing or show them your holiday photos and you haven’t got time to go round to their house or call them on the phone”. An excellent summary I thought!
But if I struggled to describe twitter what would she have made of it?
The point in an nutshell is status updates – or ‘tweets’ as twitter calls them. Now, I love status updates – when I first started using facebook I was definitely OCD about them, to the extent that if I left it longer than 30 minutes to update my friends would message me and ask me if I was dead. And status updates are one of the main reasons why I still love facebook. But even for the incurably nosey like me (in another life I’d have been a private detective) the banal stream of consciousness that twitter offers via its tweets is just too much information.
Recent tweets I’ve had include;
“OK what do I do with the pumpkin now?”
“I’ve just caved in and popped an Immodium”
“Walked into the urinals and thought ‘oh shit I’m in the womens’”
Hmm. Noticing the bowel movements theme?
Maybe it depends how interesting your friends are? One of the people I follow on twitter is Stephen Fry and I have to say his life is fascinating. I read my twitter feed mainly for him at the moment. But frankly everyone else is rather dull. I’m really not sure this is going to catch on. You heard it here first…Tweet