I recently wrote a post on Blackweb 2.0 which discussed one of the many services and content management systems that aim to extend the usefulness of Twitter. I briefly touched on something that has been in the back of my mind for a while, so I figured I should elaborate. In the post I explained the reluctance of Twitterers to actually branch out and use other micro-blogging services:
Hardcore Twitter users do not like to leave Twitter. Most of them do not feel like exploring other services. Twitter is just too simple to use, too familiar, and all their followers are there. No matter how awesome another service might be, these people are not moving.
I first encountered this when Identi.ca (based on Laconi.ca) was introduced. Twitter was having major problems with stability at the time and I was actually afraid to invest in the service. Keep in mind, I was pretty new to Twitter at this time, so I didn’t have an investment there to protect. Some users started to use Identi.ca for a while, but many have since gone back to Twitter, or try to participate on both.
The second time I encountered this reluctance to leave Twitter was when I discovered a service called Rejaw, which I have written about quite a few times here. I think it’s a great service that provides many awesome features that Twitter does not. It’s almost a content management system in it’s own right.
Even with the unreliable nature of Twitter, the removal of IM access, and the shutdown of Track, Twitter users still refused to let go. Thinking about it now, I get a vision of a Captain going down with their ship.
Since then, with the shutdown of a bunch of features, Twitter is somewhat stable again. I have actually started using it. I got sucked in by the very thing that made others so adamant about not jumping ship. I always knew what it was, but I didn’t really understand. Like being in love, it’s not something that can be explained. You just feel it.
It’s the Community
But this post is not about the community. It’s about the reason we keep seeing services that appear completely ridiculous. Services built on top of Twitter that many of us see as re-inventing the wheel. These services allow you to view your stream in a tree format with embedded media. They allow you to tweet things that are actually too long to tweet, when 140 chars isn’t enough, with embedded media and comments. They even allow you to organize group conversations around the topics you choose.
Of course there are other ways to handle digital asset management and accomplish these things, but many of us tend to forget the reason a lot of people choose Twitter: It’s Simple. Other methods require jumping through a few hoops, creating a couple of accounts, and possibly learning how to use a new application.
What do you do when potential users absolutely refuse to leave another service? You bring your service to them. You come into their space. This is what these guys have done and I actually think it’s a pretty intelligent move when it comes down to it. Twitter users have too much invested in their Twitter community to simply jump ship for your service. Make it so they don’t even need to create an account, just plug in in their Twitter credentials and go.
How do you feel about these hybrid web applications?