Chirp the Twitter Conference - a Retrospective

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Twitter Chirp conference just ended. If any of you have been following it online you may have heard the news that they’ve detailed @Anywhere, provided a glimpse of their business model, and announced personal streams that will be available soon.

I’m writing this to talk about some of the behind the scenes stuff that you couldn’t get from Justin.TV. Although this was a developer conference, it seemed there was really only two types of people I met there: business development people trying to sell me something, or little kids that are looking for jobs.

Business development people came in really two buckets, and from all the conversations I had at Chirp it seems that these are the applications that a lot of people are currently working on. 1) CRM 2) Analytics. Granted these were two of the fields that the VC’s were most interested in expanding out, I was a little disappointed in the creativity from this group of people. The CRM ranged from companies like CoTweet who are really the 800lb Guerrilla when it comes to Twitter CRM. They’ve managed to figure out how to leverage workflow into a corporate twitter environment. The other end of the CRM spectrum was just the people that promised to store all tweets with your company name in it. They then provide some value add by utilizing a proprietary search engine developed by some number (usually 1-3) of PhD’s.

The kids looking for a job ranged from the jerks:

REDHEADED BASTARD: Have you built a Twitter client I’ve heard of? ME: No, but you’ve heard of the clients I have built Twitter apps for. REDHEADED BASTARD: goodbye.

To the kids trying to make a name for themselves:

GREG: I write games based on where you are, kind of like a photo scavenger hunt.

The content was really good, except that the Twitter employees that really knew what they were talking about were surrounded by all the actual developers that went to the conference, but asking dumb questions like “Who 140chars?” Leaving me to talk to the staffing coordinators and recruiters who really didn’t want to talk to anyone except other Twitter employees.

The @Anywhere stuff is mindless to implement. It has three main areas:

  1. Twitter Connect - like Facebook Connect only for Twitter
  2. Hovercards - Annoying cards that flip up with contact information when you hover on something like this: @spatacoli
  3. Tweet Box - Place a box on your web page so people can tweet directly from your site without having to leave the current thought flow.

You’ll see some of this implemented on this site soon. I’m currently rewriting all of it. Check out the docs and you’ll be up and ready in about 5 minutes.

The business model has two pillars: corporate accounts (think competition to CoTweets) and paid tweets. Companies write up a tidy 140 and post it, then select that tweet as the ad that we want to serve up. Then Twitter has a magic formula that they are calling “resonance” to determine how and when they show that Tweet at the top of a stream. At first it’ll only appear in search results, later they’ll add it to the streams that things like Seesmic and TweetDeck use to display their feed. The developers have the option to use the ad stream or not, but there was no discussion about the penalties of not using the ad streams. If you use the ad stream the application developer gets 50% of the ad revenue. So that’s pretty cool.

What’s the one thing that really got me excited?

Personal streams will be the future, but they only gave us access to that during the conference. I hope we’ll see it out soon. The talk around this was interesting. Instead of talking about the “Real Time” or “Web 2” they were talking about “Right Time Web”. That means information for you at the right time at the right place. I could tweet right now that I bought a new camera that I really like, but at the moment you read my tweet, you are at work and don’t care. However, three days later you are at Best Buy looking for a new camera. That would be the right time and place for that information. Figuring out how to surface that information at that time and place is where true innovation will take place in the next 2 years.

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