Why Twitter Wants TweetDeck - and TweetDeckers - So Badly
Rumors swirling this morning about Twitter’s $50 million acquisition of TweetDeck have everyone, er, atwitter.
Fundamentally, Twitter has finally realized that its development partners have continued to innovate while the company’s basic interface – Twitter.com – is oddly low-frills with frustrating functionality.
TweetDeck and other ‘social media engagement’ tools – Seesmic, HootSuite, Spredfast, Engage121, Awareness Networks, SproutSocial, Shoutlet – the list goes on, as so many have sprung up in the last few years – have gone to the head of the class while Twitter.com has done little more than simply change to ‘new Twitter.’
Twitter clients for smartphones are also much more user-friendly and intuitive – not surprising.
According to estimates that 5% of all Twitter users use TweetDeck – that’s nearly 9 million people – TweetDeckers are the elite power users who are not only using a tool to create and manage messages, but also to receive news, interact with their networks, and engage – the very promise of social media in the first place. Twitter has already begun to court – and potentially monetize—this audience, introducing its Promoted Tweets advertising service in TweetDeck columns several months ago.
The move to buy TweetDeck might be seen as defensive – warding off Ubermedia, which threw its hat into the ring in February and reportedly offered to buy TweetDeck for $25-$30 million – but others might view this as Twitter wanting to finally control its product, brand, audience – and ability to make serious money.
Twitter’s turning off of Ubermedia’s access to its API in February of this year made waves, as Ubermedia developed the popular UberTwitter and Twidroyd.
Once acquired, Twitter would be wise to not completely rebrand and repurpose TweetDeck. Besides using the main service – Twitter – TweetDeckers also enjoy the ability to distribute and propagate messages to other networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. Whether Twitter would continue to support its competitors is uncertain and remains to be seen.
Finally, wishing to control monetization on Twitter might be perceived as a noteworthy and respectful goal, but competitors lurk, most notably offerings by IZEA Marketing’s Sponsored Tweets and Ad.ly’s celebrity tweet placements. It is highly unlikely that Twitter will actually acquire agencies or marketing firms that compete directly with its own Promoted Tweets, Trends and Accounts.
This blogpost was first published on Social Media Today on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.