I’ve heard no greater example of self indulgence than Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s nausea-inducing claim that 2012 was going to be the year of the Twitter election. (He spoke at the recent All Things Digital event in Southern California.) Amid the Google/Twitter separation mishigas (read: Twitter’s finger pointing) the notion of Twitter as a communication vehicle should have taken a back seat to Twitter as an advertising vehicle. But it didn’t.
The question isn’t whether Twitter can survive without Google, it’s whether Twitter has already jumped the shark by selling out its core constituency while wildly overestimating its importance. Google is the best company in the world at connecting INtent with CONtent. Twitter knows this and is justifiably scared.
And This Is Important Why?
The subject of Google including or not including Twitter’s “information” and the recent controversy around it left one or two CMOs I know wondering why any of this is important. Aside from Twitter content no longer being served to Google searchers in a format that serves Twitter better than Google searchers, nothing really changed.
Twitter is no more an information repository than your local DMV is a think tank. There’s some useful information in there, but it’s surrounded by so much crap, no one really knows how to separate the good from bad or the signal from the noise.
Twitter needs Google but Google doesn’t much need Twitter. The rules of the road in working with Google are pretty simple: play by our rules, let us dictate the terms of engagement or we’ll use our search influence to put your business out of business.
Can you blame them? If you had that much influence without oversight, would you do it any differently? Forget the clichéd moral and ethical “evil or not” discussions, this is America dangit, this is how we roll. Someday you are going to buy it and he who dies with the most toys wins. Grab a hot dog and a constitutionally protected firearm and get out there and express capitalism and constitutionality.
It’s A Business, Stupid
Lest we forget, Twitter is in business to make money. You don’t change CEOs twice and hire a guy that used to work at Google because your interest lies in simply making the world a better place. Said new CEO– champion of net causes that he is– called Wikipedia’s SOPA-opposition-induced blackout silly.
Speaking of Wikipedia, there’s no better example of how to build something for the people only to later exploit it by serving up those who use it on a silver platter to anyone with an advertising buck. Boy, that site really flamed out didn’t it? The financial backers ridding themselves of that Wales guy to get someone in there who’ll toe the corporate line really worked out well. Wait, strike that — Wikipedia never sold out and the founder’s vision remains intact today.
Twitter’s Costolo also received an appointment by President Obama to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. Comprised of truly selfless companies such as Microsoft, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, I know I sleep better knowing our President has surrounded himself with truly unbiased opinions to help protect our National Communications System.
Twitter: Friend To Dictators Everywhere
By the way, Twitter just completely sold out by agreeing to censor Tweets wherever required by law all over the world. I mean, for heaven’s sake people, how else are dictatorships and garrison states supposed to thrive when the truth keeps rearing its ugly head?
Thailand was the first to come out in support of Twitter’s enthusiasm for protecting the Monarchy. Can I be the first to say, duh? Wherever despotism is threatened by peasants, Twitter will be there. Selling ads.
Want to sell ads on your internet anything to people in China? Fall in line and play by China’s rules. So what if playing by the rules means selling out the very people who came to you for a platform for their voices?
But you don’t have to be a military state to get a helping censor hand from Twitter. Nicolas Sarkozy’s office has reportedly requested that a satire account or two go Jimmy Hoffa. No one’s seen or heard from @_nicolassarkozy since February 16th, the day after the French president announced plans to seek re-election. Strange. You’d think attempting to censor the people who perfected the modern protest would be a bad thing.
Stop Pretending To Be A Revolutionary Force
You see, Dick, it’s a slippery slope and you are stepping into of a tepid Quaker State bath with your claim that Twitter will play such a pivotal role in 2012’s election. Costolo noted in his speech at AllThingsD that nearly all Republicans have used promoted Tweets. That in no way sounds like a guy who wants to sell more ads.
But wait, what am I saying? Only months ago a whole bunch of unemployed kids were chaining themselves to banks and smoking weed in parks nationwide. What happened to those kids? Don’t they know the world changed with the occupy movement?
Ok, so nothing changed and no one gives a rodent’s posterior. The rich kids are still getting richer and the cool kids are the only ones who matter. While sympathizing with protesters for my own reasons, what prevails in the wake of occupy is one simple truth: sleeping in a tent on public land isn’t going to pay anyone’s bills.
Twitter was supposed to be another tool to help democratize and set us free, but (shocker) it’s just another advertising money machine for the 1% built on the backs of the 99%. I wonder how easy it will be for the 99% to replace Twitter?
Businesses Exist To Make Money
I suppose if I were in the business of indexing emotion or intent, I’d be worried about Google telling me to take a flying leap. We’ll know in the coming months whether Twitter has any staying power, but in the mean time, please stop whining about yet another company selling its user base out to build ad revenue. That’s what they do.
If it helps, you can view Twitter as I do — an extension of the original intent of the web — a platform to complain about products and services. Besides, just about every “How to exploit Twitter for marketing purposes,” guide says steer clear of politics to avoid polarizing your audience.
I’m on Twitter — hence my self loathing — but in my defense, I almost never Tweet about politics or anything relating to my chosen line of work. Come to think of it, I really should have paid more attention to the “how to exploit Twitter” guides. Maybe I’d have more followers and Dick’s company could sell more ads.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.