Yes, like so much of the digital media universe, we at 360i were awaiting Twitter founder Evan Williams’ keynote address at South by Southwest (SXSW) this week. I was personally at the event, eager to hear how Twitter was about to change.
And then it didn’t.
There wasn’t any new ad platform launched, as had been widely rumored. Instead, Williams referred to the ‘@ platform,’ specifically dubbed @anywhere. It has nothing to do with advertising – at least not yet. What it does change is how Twitter functions on other sites.
With @anywhere, publishers can allow their visitors to share content or follow Twitter users that the publishers feature. For example, If The New York Times has reporters on Twitter, their bylines can include @anywhere snapshots of their Twitter usage, and consumers can follow that reporter on the spot. In such a scenario, the Times could include links to various official accounts, or even Twitter accounts of people and businesses mentioned in their stories. All of this can happen by adding a few lines of code to the publisher’s site.
The Times, MSNBC, Meebo, Amazon.com, YouTube, and Advertising Age are among the launch partners, but Williams didn’t mention exactly when it launches, and you won’t find more specifics on Twitter’s announcement on its blog. But it’s coming.
It’s unclear exactly how site owners will get to sign up and when this will be rolled out. There are two questions that any marketer needs to ask right now when considering this:
- How important is Twitter for helping me achieve my marketing objectives?
- How important do I want Twitter to be?
If Twitter’s an important communications channel, traffic driver, or a sales channel, then you need to follow @anywhere (literally, by following the account, and figuratively, by following related updates) and consider integrating it when it’s live.
If Twitter isn’t as essential yet, but you’re investing more resources into using it effectively and you see its influence rising (such as the share of traffic it sends to your site), then you can probably afford to be a fast follower – or a not so fast follower, where you can learn from how other sites use it before deciding how deep you want to dive in, if at all.
There are still some fundamental questions. Will this provide any value to visitors to your site who aren’t Twitter users? Will it convert some of the Twitter spectators into participants? What data will be available to publishers who use @anywhere, and will this data be available exclusively to such publishers? Will this ever have anything to do with advertising?
We’ll share answers as we get them here on the blog, and any other way you want to stay in touch with us.