If you think about it, at the very core of Twitter is the premise “You never know who might care what you are doing.” Twitter started with the idea of building a webservice to send text messages to friends. All sorts of great ideas, jokes, business opportunities, activities, and conversations have taken place inside of text messages for years – only seen by two people (until more recently, when group texts became common).
The thinking was that many of those conversations could benefit from additional eyes and publicity. And, as we see from Twitter’s massive growth over the past 5 years, they were right.
Of couse, you find all sorts of use cases for Twitter these days, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a horribly inefficient way to surface & act on location specific updates — particularly people using it to “check-in” to a new city digitally. The people that can help, often don’t see it amidst the firehose referred to as their feed. While dozens, hundreds, or thousands (for someone really famous) of others who clearly can not help do see that in their social streams (which is spam).
Yet there is no platform that reaches a large enough audience in the exact right way, so people keep using Twitter and Facebook (& Foursquare for airport check-ins).
The learning? Even though there are terribly inefficient platforms being used for a number of user scenarios such as the location check-in, reaching critical mass is really really freaking hard. Winning them over requires a 10x experience compared to what they get now.
But you already knew that 🙂