Twitter’s Success: It’s the Ecosystem

After spending far too many hours last week looking at WordPress themes and plugins, it got me thinking that what makes WordPress such a great blogging platform is the ecosystem that has exploded around it.

There are 10s of thousands of places where you get information about how to use WordPress, and 10s of thousands of people happily created themes and plugins – many of them for free, although donations always welcome. So while WordPress (the platform) is terrific (Note: WP 2.5 needs some tweaks), WordPress is the leading platform because, in part, of the ecosystem that supports, nurtures, enhances and promotes it.

Although it’s early days, the same phenomena is starting to happen with Twitter. Although it’s difficult to pin down the actual number of Twitter users, there is no doubt Twitter is attracting a growing number of developers who are creating some really interesting and useful applications using the Twitter API. These applications make Twitter more interesting, and extend its usefulness beyond just writing and reading 140-character messages.

Here’s a few Twitter applications that have caught my attention recently:

- Summize: a search tool to discover people, keywords, conversations and trends. If you’re in public/media relations or a community position, Summize is a great way to quickly identify if anything is happening in your world.

- Twubble: a tool expand the number of people you follow. It works by searching through your followers, and selecting other people whom you may want to follow.

- Twistori: a “social experiment”, Twistori pulls messages from Twitter, and then publishes them anonymously using a river-of-news concept.

- Thwirl: a Twitter desktop client with the ability to operate multiple Twitter accounts, as well as Friendfeed.

- TwitterStats: a tool for all you stat junkies out there.

- TwitPic: A place where you can share your photos on Twitter.

Depending on how you want to use Twitter, it’s becoming increasing easy to tap the ecosystem to get whatever you want out of it – be it a way to find interesting content, tracking conversations and trends, or simply seeing what other people are writing about.

It’s the ecosystem that will propel Twitter from cool tool embraced most by techies into a mainstream medium. The more ways people can use Twitter, the more appealing it will become. It would be great if Twitter would create a centralized destination to find all the tools and services being created – sort of like

Perhaps the most important element is whether Twitter itself can thrive and survive so the ecosystem can grow along with it. With no business model (yet!), Twitter has to raise some more venture capital to give it more time to figure out a way to make money, or find someone (Facebook, Microsoft, Google?) willing to buy it some outrageous amount of money.

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  • Mark Dykeman

    Maybe the founders of Twitter can look towards WordPress as a possible business model.

    They do have quite a challenge, though, in terms of funding and underlying infrastructure. Hopefully Twitter will make it through the long term because it’s filled a very useful niche in cyberspace.

  • Mark Evans


    The question is whether Twitter can come up with services that people will purchase. I still believe the advertising is how Twitter will monetize its popularity. The question is how much more traction does it need before flipping the switch.


  • Aidan Henry

    I agree. The support for these communities is phenomenal. Templates, themes, plug-ins, APIs, support documentation, forums, how-to’s, etc… all contribute to the strength and success of a growing community.


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