Jan 52009

What Twitter's Simplicity Can Teach Online Retail

I've been playing with Twitter over the last few weeks. I'm still dubious as to its value as a marketing channel. But, as a micro-blog, Twitter is oddly addicting.

What makes Twitter interesting is just how easy it is to use.

Here's my rough timeline of web ease-of-use.

In 1989 comes the web. Putting content on the early web is hard. Getting a server, learning apache, hand-rolling HTML, maintaining consistent headers and footers and navigation. Many steps, difficult to execute manually.

In 1997 comes blogs. Free (or nearly free) web-based content management systems. Suddenly, all the tedious HTML and CSS details vanish. Web publishing becomes easy. Web publishing explodes.

In 2006 comes Twitter. Type a sentence, and blam -- it is online. Reach the entire world, instantly, for free. Zero complexity.

Twitter's rapid growth, I think, owes much to its blinding simplicity and speed.

Taking an online order will never be as simple as Twitter's 140 characters. Bill-to, ship-to, gift options, multiple payment types, shipping options -- e-commerce is a complex beast.


There's a lesson for online retail in Twitter's growth: people prefer easy-to-use fast web apps. And so use them more.


2 Responses to "What Twitter's Simplicity Can Teach Online Retail"
Edward says:
I think Twitter is an opportunity for brands to establish a "real-time" connection with customers. Although it represents new communication technology, interestingly, it can help brands establish and maintain a more "human" image or personality as part of the brand appeal. The goal is improved CRM with potentially viral side effects.
Do elaborate, Ed. Do you mean brands monitoring Twitter to jump in and respond to random compliments or complaints which arise in the Twitter stream naturally? (imho, a good idea) Or do you mean brands pushing marketing content to consumers via Twitter? (imho, a bad idea) Or do you mean brands setting up content streams that consumers choose to follow? (imho, small opportunity) Please say more -- I find Twitter interesting but don't yet have a sense of what its role in the marcom universe will be... Any 800H success stories you can share? Cheers Alan

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