Learning From "GhostBusters"

Winston Zeddemore: Ray. If someone asks if you are a god, you say, “YES!”

ZDNet’s new Social Media blogger Jennifer Leggio posted an interview with Twitter‘s Biz Stone this weekend.

What does that have to do with GhostBusters? This:

Q. Finally, the big question seems to be… is Twitter considering a paid model?

A. No. Not for the usage we are talking about now. It is very important that Twitter remains free for people to remain connected. Some people are suggesting a paid model so that we can improve the service but money is not our issue; we have plenty of money. It’s about getting the right architecture in place and boosting reliability. We want to keep it free.

Biz. Please. Right now, Twitter is a God. Do you realize how lucky you are that people are BEGGING you to take their money? Shut up and take it.

You don’t have to roll out a SLA and a full suite of fee-only tools for the paying customers. Start small. Let people pay $25 a year to have a little icon next to their photos (al la Flickr Pro). They will do it gladly and it won’t eat a lot of development cycles.

You’re not going to be in this spot forever. Take advantage of it while you can.

10 Months on Twitter

Roughly 10 months and 3,000 Tweets ago, I signed up for Twitter. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I’ll pick up my 500th follower.

Every time I see that number, I’m a little surprised. I always though I’d be one of those people with a relatively small Twitter following. I’m even more surprised at the gap between the number of people I follow and my followers. I know that the conventional wisdom for many social media folks is that you should follow back everyone who follows you, or nearly so. And for many months, that was my practice. But as the number of people on my follow list crept over 200, I found myself throttling back more and more.

If this were all about just random people and social chat, none of this would be particularly noteworthy. However, in my new job, a not-insignificant number of the user group managers I support are on Twitter, talking to each other (and to me) there. This isn’t just about fun chat anymore, it’s a part of my real work. I need to make that aspect of my Twitter-life a priority.

It’s easier said than done, though. On the one hand, I’ve built connections to a bunch of people on Twitter that I value, and I don’t want to give that up. I also want to have a broad range of voices in my Twitter stream; that’s part of its value. On the other hand, I need to keep the noise level manageable. I just don’t have the bandwidth to follow 500 people; I have to get my work done. I can’t spend all day glued to Twhirl or hitting reload in the browser.

The net result is that right now, I don’t generally follow back new followers unless I already know them or unless they’re part of the Adobe ecosystem, and that I’ve dropped a bunch of people I used to follow – mostly the ones I never had any real interaction with.

Whether I’ll stick to this policy as time goes on, I don’t know. Considering how flaky Twitter has been recently, and how fast the early adopters get bored with their shiny toys, things could be completely different in 6 months. For now, though, that’s the plan.

Twitter: 90 Day Review

I signed up for Twitter some three months ago. Unlike some of Twitter’s more rapturous fans (like Scoble), my feelings are more mixed. On the one hand, I “get” Twitter. I like the idea, I think there’s a lot of uses for the service, and I’m pretty happy with the feature set. I’ve found some people who are using Twitter in interesting ways, and two real-life friends also Twitter. When it’s good, Twitter can be a lot of fun.

On the other hand, using Twitter feels like shouting down a well most of the time. I can count on the fingers of one hand the people who’ve actually had any interaction with me on Twitter (including the friends). It’s hard to stay enthusiastic about something when you get so little feedback.

All in all, I’d give my first 90 days with Twitter a B. I’m not inclined to stop Twittering, but it’s in no danger of replacing my blog any time soon.


So I decided to give Twitter a try. I’ve added a badge to my Facebook and to the “Misc” section over on the right-hand column here.

I rather doubt that the world is going to care about the mundane details of my life, but what the heck, let’s give it a shot. Feel free to follow along, or if you Twitter too, let me know!