Business is Strange, When You Are Twitter

We all know about Twitter’s continued and controversial efforts to shut out the very third-party app developers that helped it rise to prominence. For some surprising context around that, here’s a Twitterific post by way of Gizmodo that outlines some fundamental things that Twitter benefited from as early as it did only because of third-party app developers, including, among others, the term tweet, the bird icon, iPhone penetration, and in-situ character counting.

Granted, Twitter will be able to create and control a more unified, official Twitter experience, but unified isn’t a synonym for better or compelling. In fact, it limits the chances it’ll be either.

On the other hand, there’s certainly always a business case to be made for changing tactics when situations change or when something’s not working anymore or when goals change.

However, the business that we’re talking about here is a social medium. It doesn’t have a product you need regardless of whether you care about it, like car tires or heating oil or vegetables. We’ll buy those whether we care about the brand or not.

But social media needs “interest” for it to maintain viability and relevance. That means user interest, that means mainstream media interest, and that means third-party app developer interest. If those latter guys could care less about you, then you’re chances of securing that vital “interest” from the broadest possible audience is severely diminished.

That’s because the idea tank for new features isn’t as diversified or as in-touch with the audience. It’s also because when a user has fewer choices for how they experience something, they can have a binary reaction. I like it and will use it (a reaction that’s rarely permanent). I don’t like it, so I’ll find something else. If that something else is just a different experience for your same product, awesome. If not, problem.

And social media has enough problems. They don’t need to create more for themselves.