Success on Twitter: data, not features

Working with the data, not adding features is the key to have a peaceful relationship with Twitter and other platforms.

As some of you already know: I developed Muuter.

Muuter is a web app that fills a hole in Twitter: when someone becomes too noisy, tweeting too much, Muuter allows you to stop following that person for a variable time, from an hour to a week.

I developed it on a whim. Just because I found the idea attractive, and Twitter didn’t offer anything similar at the time. I ALWAYS knew that Twitter could add this feature in just seconds, and -besides a couple of barely implementable ideas- never tried to monetize it, much less imagine a future for it.

Everyone in their right mind will tell you that tying you too close to a single platform could spell problems down the road. I applaud Seesmic for buying and getting a foothold in 40 networks in one move.

But what drove me to write this was the #unionoftwitterapps hashtag that I’ve seen flowing around Twitter. Really? A union? All of our collective innovation drive, pioneering efforts, trailblazing vision, all that crap that fills conference after conference -all of that goes back two centuries just because someone gave us a mean look in the school yard? (yeah, I know, replace «our» with «your»).

Please, guys, we need you back in 2010 ASAP.

I may be wrong and biased, but remember Muuter is on the losing end of the line, should Twitter add those features in the future (and I think they should).

The thing is, no matter if you interface with one or a hundred networks, if you add / replace / complete a feature on your «partners,» you’re most likely going to get in a hot spot (good hot for one, bad hot for the rest) if that feature gets popular.

The solution: go for the data, not the features. Twitter is a treasure trove of data. The «pulse of the planet» schtick is really happening and those capable of taking advantage of it will be the big winners.

For now Google and Microsoft have access to the firehose of all tweets, but soon there will be news about access for other companies.

If you do creative stuff with the data, and build tech and IP that grows and keeps users hooked with your service, the only way to duplicate it is by copying you, and for that you have enough legal resources to fight back.

Instead, if all it takes to leave you spinning on your head is adding a button to the original Twitter interface, you’re toast from the get go.


Third option: use ‘em as transport. Let your users log in via Twitter, FB et al, let them send you info through the networks and do your magic with it, StockTwits style.