Microblogging service, Twitter, has had its fair share of success and failure. I really love it, and have been tweeting more than I have months ago, only because of the growth of it. No matter whether or not you use Twitter, there are some lessons learned in their growth for everyone to accept.
Lesson #1: Scalability!
It’s not about the platform, the graphics, the hardware… just make a product or service scale if you want people to join your service. Social networking sites like MySpace have experienced exponential growth, and no doubt they have a massive server farm to meet the needs of the users. I’m not sure if Twitter realized how fast their service was adopted by users outside of elitists (Michael Arrington, Jason Calacanis, Robert Scoble, etc). In making your service scalable you first must optimize the content, optimize your systems, create redundant server technology, and be reliable. Quick is nice, but reliable is better.
Lesson #2: Communication!
You know what’s ironic? Twitter hasn’t posted timely updates on their service when there’s issues. It would be nice to let users know that there will be downtime, or there is downtime. Be accessible … if you can’t post notices timely, then post latency between servers for people to know and have a script make it a conditional statement to use colors accordingly. (Like, <1sec is green, <10sec yellow, >10 sec red.) Recently, there was a pretty wide-spread weekend outage, resulting in users resorting to third-party customer support (read: complaint) Web sites… this isn’t how you should support your product.
Lesson #3: Simplicity!
In software development, one of the pains of a product manager is the fact that a majority of users only use a minority of features. Twitter is unique from other social media applications because it doesn’t have many features. It’s simple. The great thing about having simplicity, users understand it, digest it better and promotes more growth. When things are simple, it’s easier to maintain.
Lesson #4: People!
Twitter has focused on people instead of users. People communicate, users click. Twitter has made it incredibly easy for average users to use Twitter since they focused on human-to-human communication without necessarily requiring multiple clicks. Twitter is to Internet communication what AT&T is to long-distance.
There are probably many more lessons to be learned from Twitter, but I wanted to highlight what I know are important in social media. What lessons do you think Twitter has taught us?