This article was published on January 18, 2011

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…how would you define Twitter?

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…how would you define Twitter?

It’s a funny enough question to be asking seeing as Twitter has been around well over 4 years now, but I was prompted to write this post after this article, in which Twitter’s own CEO admitted that he had to do some work figuring out what Twitter was and how it would be defined.

“I am working on clarity around that at the moment. I am currently trying to define what Twitter’s purpose is in the long term. We will be able to be more specific on that answer in the near future.” -Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

After pondering it for a couple of months the best he could do was…

“We want to instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.” -Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

This is an improvement but still doesn’t really nail it on the head for me. I think they need to clarify it further.

Think of the other big online companies. When you think of Google, you think search; Facebook, friends; Paypal, payments; Amazon, books; Skype, calls.

It would be hard to define what you do in one or two words but the big successful online businesses have done it either on purpose or just naturally over time. Twitter, on the other hand, is many things to many people and sometimes trying to be everything doesn’t work, which is precisely why their CEO is so keen on defining what they are and focusing all their attention on improving this definition.

Is Twitter a real time search engine? Is it something that people use socially? Is it a news wire? A way of keeping up with your friends? A customer service tool? The truth is it can be used for all of those things. Everybody uses it differently.

So what exactly is Twitter? I’d be surprised if you can nail it in one or two words!

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