June 7, 2009

What I Learned at 140 | The Twitter Conference (part 6)

Filed under: #140tc,Product Innovation,Twitter — @smokejumper @ 2:55 am
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View this blog post “What I Learned at 140 | The Twitter Conference (part 6)” on my new blog site at

“Even with a simple hash tag, there is a learning curve.”
Soren Macbeth
Co-Founder / CEO

Gazing into the Twitter UniverseSoren (@sorenmacbeth) joined a panel with Brian Solis (@briansolis) of PR 2.0 fame.  Brian unveiled a new tool, Twitterverse, that attempts to map the Twitter Universe.  (Interesting when searching for Brian’s Twitterverse image, I found 17 Ways to Visualize Twitter.)  Unfortunately I missed most of Brian’s talk – he has written a good recap of The Twitter Conference and TWTRCON, complete with his broader perspective on Twitter on his blog post:  Is Twitter Evolving from the Facebook to the Myspace of Microblogs? Analyzing Twitter trends and demographics.

Soren shared his experience in founding and building StockTwits.  His original idea was to develop detailed and complex algorithms, reputation indicators and stock pricing information.  That idea evolved into something dramatically simpler with the use of the “$” tag.  I missed whether this was something Soren pushed on Twitter or

merely observed and utilized.  In any event, as those interested in stocks utilize $ preceding a stock symbol, it gets pick up by StockTwits for all others to see.  StockTwits is positioned as a real-time Bloomberg for the small investor.

Soren’s experience contains some potentially valuable lessons about Twitter and sites based on Twitter.  My quick takeaways:

  • Real time data.  By engaging twitter users interested in stocks and the market, StockTwits provides immediate insight into how people are viewing, reacting, thinking about companies.
  • Simplicity is key. Soren is clearly a bright and thoughtful individual.  His business got traction once he let go of the more complicated casting of his original idea and latched onto something mere mortals could utilize.  One of the cool things about StockTwits is many users don’t know (or care) that they are actually using Twitter!
  • Power in structured data. This panel seemed to understand something that could be Twitter’s biggest contribution to technology (and dare I say to humanity?) – the mass amount of real-time data that Twitter is generating (or users of Twitter are generating to be more precise).  Products that can utilize this data and present it in a compelling manner are likely to be winners.  The categories that this basic concept could be applied are plentiful – travel, gossip, wine, etc.
  • Interface matters. Although this point wasn’t discussed directly, as I looked at StockTwits as well as the many tools and utilities that are being built around Twitter, the sites that capture and hold my attention focus on design and usability.  It’s not that I can’t use crude or “techie” interfaces, it’s just that I’m impatient.  Soren did note that he is loathe to add complexity – a philosophy that is perhaps inspired by Twitter itself and I believe is one that will continue to serve him.

I’m satiated . . . more later.


  1. The Power of Presence. Insights from Alex Payne, Twitter API Lead.
  2. I am a Twitter God(ess) and So Can You! The View From Twitter Stardom with @ijustine, @missrogue and @davepeck.
  3. Don’t Take the Drive to Manic Feature Explosion. What Makes a Good Twitter App.
  4. Twitter business start-ups are combination socialist and radical markets.   Twitter Strategies:  Real-World Success Stories.
  5. WTF, No Twitter TV!? Direction from Anamitra Banerji, Twitter Product Management.
  6. Even with a simple hash tag, there is a learning curve. Soren MacBeth, Co-Founder / CEO of StockTwits.
  7. You can’t own social media. You can only interact with it. Corporate Use of Twitter by @JetBlue.
  8. Twitter will transform conferences & events. Surprising takeaways from an in-person Twitter conference experience.