Jane Martinson of The Guardian wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the departure of Twitter’s head of news, Vivian Schiller. It’s really yet another attempt to answer the seemingly unanswerable question: can Twitter make money?
We were most taken, however, with the idea that Twitter has to choose between being a service for journalists or one for PR.
Martinson’s point is that most people simply don’t use the network very often — and those who do tend to work in media, politics or communications. She opines that Martinson left once she realized that her only real responsibility was to convince more reporters to tweet regularly, Dean Baquet be damned.
The idea is that, while Twitter is almost always the best source for breaking news in real-time, the eyeballs and ad dollars belong firmly in the Facebook camp.
As much as we love Twitter, we question its value as a platform for paid promotions:
1. Users are even more unforgiving on Twitter than on other networks, and they REALLY hate sponsored messages
2. They will compete to see who can make fun of your client most effectively
3. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t have an “algorithm” to guarantee that most interested users will eventually see the thing you paid for (unless you drop a bunch of money to sponsor it for a period of time, in which case see #2)
But if Twitter follows Facebook in its attempt to place greater value on “real” news and bury the sort of meme-y stuff that dilutes the quality of the average user’s feed, then it will have to dive deeper on the regulatory front. For this reason, we hope that it remains a platform rather than a media company. Were it not a place where everyone is basically equal and all the best and worst stuff rises to the top, it wouldn’t be nearly so entertaining.
PR and marketing will always struggle to get messages noticed on Twitter, whether they’re paid or not. And that’s exactly as it should be.