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“We really want to make Twitter the source of information that you check several times a day on your mobile phone”: Evan Williams

Evan Williams made an appearance on NPR’s On the Media on Friday, and had some interesting things to say about the current state of Twitter, and what the network needs to succeed in the future.

Williams thinks that Twitter’s biggest challenge in the coming days will be to give users a more personalized experience:

“With a hundred million tweets flowing through the system on a daily basis, there’s something for everyone. But the real challenge is finding the most valuable stuff for you… We really want to make Twitter the source of information that you check several times a day on your mobile phone. I think right now Twitter does that in the best cases, but we have a long way to go to make that really valuable.”

Getting the news, tweets and links that interest you is no doubt what Twitter power users strive for, and what novices think is lacking.

In talking about On the Media itself, Williams notes that for a media or broadcast organization, Twitter is a way to connect with fans in between shows or broadcasts. While those already in the social media space might not see the immediate benefit of Twitter, those outside of this space see it as a communication tool that they’ve never had access to before.

The host asked Williams about Twitter’s revenue model, something that everyone and their mothers has been talking about since the launch of the Promoted Products suite back in April. Williams responded: “We think the long-term value of Twitter is going to be in building the largest, most valuable network possible.”

He went on to say that they had been spending most of their time trying to get the technology and the user experience right. They’ve just begun looking into the revenue-generating portion of their business model, as we know, with Promoted Products.

Williams describes Promoted Tweets and Trends as giving companies the ability to gain visibility within a topic, without deviating from the organic Twitter experience.

“We only have one Promoted Tweet in any one topic. We also measure the engagement on that Promoted Tweet, and if people aren’t interacting with it, we take that as a signal and we stop displaying it.”

As an example of a successful Promoted Trend, Williams pointed to the Washington Post’s #election Promoted Trend. During the mid-term elections in the US, this trend got about a 9% re-tweet and interaction rate, while, as the host of the show points out, advertising on the web in general receives substantially lower than 1% clickthrough rate.

Williams notes that Twitter is extremely valuable as an information network for anyone who wants to get a message heard by lots of people.but that there is commercial value in Twitter too – Dell computers, one of the first big businesses to use Twitter, sold millions of dollars worth of computers solely through Twitter.

You can access the On the Media interview with Williams here.

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