I used to be very dismissive of Twitter. “What’s its purpose?”, I asked. Until I had the following thought…
A quick inspection of the Tweets I get suggests that about 70% of them contain URL’s. Meaning, they are designed for me to go somewhere else for the full read.
Which led me to thinking: are Tweets replacing headlines in the newspaper industry?
Think about how we use headlines. To quickly scan what we want to read. And we probably read a small percentage of the articles in full.
What does this mean? If I’m Google, I’d be concerned.
Google is the front door to a huge percentage of online content. And they earn a lot of advertising revenue for being so. But it’s the gateway to specific content that you’re searching for. While search engines are tremendously useful, it’s not the only way we want to encounter online content.
Using the same analogy, Twitter is the front door to content you might want to read but aren’t searching for specifically. Like how you scan newspaper headlines for something to read.
This would put Twitter in a powerful position if your business is to get your content read. It’s not clear to me how Twitter intends to monetize its large base of users and volume of messages. But you can imagine how it occupies a position between readers and writers, professional or otherwise.
For example, I use Twitter as one way to inform people about a new blog post. And I noticed a lot of other bloggers doing the same. If I was making a living from blogging (or journalism, or online marketing), Twitter would be awfully important as a means to communicate with readers. And I might pay for the privilege.
Since I starting writing this post, I came across this article on the decline in search traffic. Which seems to be the corollary. Perhaps people’s use of the Web to acquire information is shifting, to one where the role of search is diminishing and the role of “headlines” (Tweets) is rising. If so, Google’s dominance is ending.