Though a fan and a user of Twitter, I have had my doubts as to true value of the platform. However, a recent release by one of my companies has made me see more clearly how Twitter can be a powerful enabler and unleash a rash of innovation for the betterment of its community.
The latest StockTwits release, which through a Firefox extension provides a hot-link from stock-related messages delineated by a $ sign on Twitter to the StockTwits ticker page, highlights the power of the Twitter platform and the value that can be layered atop the community. Fred’s post touches on other companies that might build their own extensions to extract greater intelligence from Twitter. VentureBeat has been focusing on Twitter’s potential to link to other websites. These are both really good points, and the AVC discussion thread has other good perspectives as well. In short, Soren and Howard are making it happen.
What it all comes down to, IMHO, is the ability of Twitter users to find and build relevant communities both on and off the Twitter platform. In the case of StockTwits, the community is a bunch of people – professionals, skilled amateurs and voyeurs – who are interested in sharing views on stocks and the economy. If StockTwits didn’t exist, it would be much harder to find people with similar interests where one could easily be inserted into the dialogue. This was my big knock on Twitter in the beginning. But as more apps are built that help people identify Twitters of like interests whom they might want to follow, and that facilitate the creation of communities that interact on Twitter but can dig in deeper elsewhere (like StockTwits), Twitter’s power as an enabling platform is rapidly coming into view.
Just as the iPhone unleashed a wave of rapid, creative innovation that brought real value to its users, I expect a similar phenomenon with Twitter. Without a doubt, the best is yet to come.