Sacca, Twitter and why should we care?

 

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Chris Sacca – Picture courtesy of Anne Helmond

  Last month, at The Next Web 2009, Chris Sacca – investor in Twitter, was interviewed on stage and also chaired a panel about the Twitter ecosystem. The following post is a combination of his comments.

Before being a major investor in Twitter, Sacca worked  for Google, where he ran the the alternative access division, whose ambitious aim was to get everybody connected to the internet. They mostly focused on user experience and solving user problems.

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Google – a company misunderstood
He describes his proudest moment of that time, was to help people understand Google. He describes Google as a place of radical socialism with employees who want to change the world and where money is not a driver.

He said that often Google does not want to be a dominant player, they would  rather be a catalyst to change an area, to allow users to choose a decent space for themselves.

It is a socialist viewpoint, (however capitalist it may seem) and if the consumer doesn’t have a choice we all suffer. He iterated that it is an open and honest view. It allows any user direct interaction without intermediaries.

 

Startups still excite
Sacca feels that Google’s monopoly of search doesn’t harm the consumer, or the quality of results. Users choose which is best.

In the same spirit, if you start a company and do not use your own product and are not passionate it will undoubtedly fail.

Food and rent is the biggest expense for  a new company. Product guys are the helpful ones. Companies are not built on business plans. They are built on prototypes. Hacked together.

 

Simple and accessible
Sacca strongly asserted that Twitter is a cultural and not a technological revolution. The product itself is not a complex solution. It has 140 characters as its USP. With both Blogger and Twitter it is  simplicity that is at its core. There is no training there. It is accessible immediately.

[Twitter] will be surpassed if it doesn’t evolve or listen to it’s users. Public conversations are very engaging, but it must enable interactions, must allow imagination.

Users distinguish success from failure, that is the real differentiator. He feel’s Twitter’s 600 million users are all in on something. It is hyper transparent, loose, flat – where all are equal.

He strongly believes that Twitter is becoming real time search. Where it is all about recency and relevancy, it is the engagement platform where conversations happen. That is why it is important, they are public conversations.

He then referred to the Obama campaign, in which he played a major part and the power of the Twitter platform to enable voters to speak directly with the president within four clicks. There were questions about everything, with no filtering and a chat about the country’s status in front of everybody.

 

The Twitter growth spurt
He predicts that Twitter, though big, will be bigger because it grows faster than a virus, it just keeps growing, maybe more than anything else. When it is simple we underestimate the elegance of it. It is an empowering and immediate communication channel.

 

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Sacca and the panelists firmly believe that Twitter will make money – it is the finger on the pulse, the way of measuring and interacting with the largest opt-in communities in the world.

It is a platform where business can be built on top of it. He feels generally reporting of events is not good, and so Twitter is becoming the quality filter in this area.

 

Rules of Tweet
Sacca put up his own rules for the Twitter nation. He said that we need to be aware that we are stealing time from users every time we post.

Be aware of providing value, do not write rubbish, do not dilute your personal ‘brand’, treat each other with respect and don’t align yourself with personalities for the sake of celebrity.

He said it is the largest audience you will ever communicate with. It makes you a better and happier person. Its positivity is based on how strangers default to positive interaction with each other.

By setting internal values then publishing externally, the followers are making the Twitterers accountable people. It helps to keep them honest and helps them to achieve their highest ideals.

 

What’s the big deal?
Hearing Chris Sacca, it was evident that his enthusiasm and belief in Twitter was always going to be a bit of a Twitter love-fest.

However, there is no denying the importance of Twitter. For me, it initially had a huge so-what factor, so simple, so clunky, so basic, so who cares?

But if you look at the deeper underlying importance of a platform that allows people to converse across time zones and locations and to exchange relevant and interesting material in a simple, no-frills interface then it is important.

Tie in metadata, real time search, the ability to see what like-minds think about and see as useful, and it becomes something really important. It is timely, powerfully instant, but most importantly contextually relevant. There is a question about scalability but it represents the cultural change in usage that both Jarvis and Keen talked about.

It could be the product that signifies the tipping point from the organization to the user. The user is becoming more vocal, more organized and has real influence. The accepted rules of engagement on the web are changing because tools such as Twitter allow an immediacy and relevance that only human connections can supply.

We know the engagement metric is so important, but it is the conversation that actually tells you the feelings of a product, person or place. For this reason alone, Twitter is providing the means of conversation, which in turn gives us the meaning behind audience engagement. Now that is a big deal.


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