Butcher’d Twitter-Tweetdeck Analysis

Mike Butcher wrote this article for TechCrunch and the entire article makes no sense. I also couldn’t disagree more. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Butcher on the importance of Tweetdeck’s users:

But as any journalist or social media expert will tell you, these are power users, producing many of the most influential content. Indeed Cornell University and Yahoo! Research found that a tiny minority of users – around .05% of the site’s population or 20,000 elite users – are generating around half of all the Tweets. These are divided into celebrities, media, organisations (such as Google) and blogs.

What Cornell and Yahoo! didn’t say is that these users are using Tweetdeck, apparently though we are just to assume that since the two sentences were put next to each other. Also, where’s the citation on either of those statements… but I digress.

So apparently Twitter is good because of the people that use Tweetdeck — sorry but I am not buying it. Twitter is not good because it has celebrities tweeting — if that’s what you think makes Twitter “good”, then I would strongly suggest that you don’t, in fact, understand Twitter.

Here’s Butcher’s opening salvo — his argument for Twitter to buy Tweetdeck:

The question is this: What is it worth to Twitter to keep Tweetdeck out of Bill Gross’ hands? For in Tweetdeck lies the balance of power in the Twitter eco-system.

In other words the argument he is trying to make is that Tweetdeck is the most important 20% of the all Twitter users. That simply is not true. I took a look at the people I follow and the tools they use to tweet — the only ones on Tweetdeck are Windows users that I follow. If those people disappeared from my Tweet stream I would not know as much about the Mariners as I currently do, and I would be lost on the current tiredness of some of my favorite celebrities. That would be a bummer, but it actually would probably make Twitter more useful for me. For me, though, just me. 1

So if Uber becomes the owner of Tweetdeck, the most valuable 20% of the audience would not be owned by Twitter.

That makes no sense — Butcher is arguing that Ubermedia would be able to hold a “.44 magnum” to Twitter’s head. That’s just stupid, here’s how a scenario would actually play out if Uber bought Tweetdeck and tried to strong arm Twitter:

Uber: We are serving our own ads in Tweetdeck now.
Twitter: That’s against the rules and we will lock you out of Twitter if you do so.
Uber: Then we will create our own network and force Tweetdeck users to use that network. Do you really want to loose 20% of your user base?
Twitter: (laughing)
Uber: We are very serious. WE own Tweetdeck.
Twitter: We just launched a native Windows client that doesn’t run off Adobe Air and looks beautiful, designed by Loren Brichter, heard of him? Have a great day.
Uber: Shit.

That’s a more likely scenario, but why? That’s easy — celebrities and “social media experts” (read: marketers) aren’t going to waste their time spamming each other with Tweets. They want access to their fans and their customers — they get that access with the “other 80%” of Twitter users. Proof: ask MySpace how well their service worked out for them when the only people left were no-name bands…yep.

If Uber buys Tweetdeck, Twitter can eviscerate their business by shutting Uber off (and a large swathe of their top users). Or they come to a deal, based on Uber’s terms.

Yeah right. What’s more valuable in the Twitter ecosystem: 100 followers that are all “power users”, or 10,000,000 followers that are regular people?

I think you get the point.

The bottom line is that Twitter is valuable because:

  1. Popular, influential people use it.
  2. A ton of regular people also use it.
  3. People in point 1 can connect to people in point 2.
  4. People in point 2 can connect to people in point 1.

The popularity and scale of the service is what makes it good, not any one subset of users. To make a rival service that stands any chance of survival would need both the influential users and the 180 million other users.

  1. Oh, and everyone else who needs less crap in their lives.
Originally posted for members on: April 22, 2011
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