How to make Twitter more useful

Last year, Twitter made it a goal to increase monetization of its social networking site by implementing promoted tweets and running ad campaigns with major brands.

This year, Twitter hopes to make the site more accessible and broaden its appeal to the masses.

To that end, the San Francisco-based company hired Dick Costolo in 2010 hoping he could successfully monetize Twitter.

Co-founder Evan Williams has described COO Costolo’s tenure as successful, saying, “During his year at Twitter, he has been a critical leader in devising and executing our revenue efforts, while simultaneously and effectively making the trains run on time in the office.”

This year, Twitter has re-hired Jack Dorsey whose main function will be to make Twitter more useful.

Dorsey officially returned to Twitter three weeks ago after being pushed out by the board two-and-a-half-years ago.

At a talk at Columbia, Dorsey said, “We have a lot of mainstream awareness, but mainstream relevancy is still a challenge.”

The majority of people still see Twitter as a way to update a status, much like Facebook. One of Twitter’s main goals for 2011 is to highlight the usefulness of Twitter by taking a hyper local approach.

Sources say when someone signs on Twitter, the company hopes to highlight tweets from their immediate area. Whether it’s from a local politician or musician, the idea is to show new users how Twitter is relevant to their lives, thus prompting them to use the site.

Jonathan Strauss, chief executive at said “Most people understand Twitter exists, but they don’t understand what Twitter is and how they can participate.”

Besides promoting local tweets to add relevance, Twitter is hoping to add tools for power users. Recently, TG Daily reported rumors that Twitter might buy TweetDeck for $50 million, a tool that allows users to filter the Twitter conversation and track their account in a more advanced way.

Aside from promoted tweets for local users, Twitter users have already created lists where people can group together particular people. A person familiar with the matter said Twitter is looking into ways to promote certain lists to make them more accessible to newbies.

Twitter is also exploring “EdgeRank,” a system that highlights posts by a user’s closest friends.

“Most of the time what people want is the most relevant and important information, and without filtering its content for individual users that’s difficult for Twitter to satisfy,” said Strauss.

Twitter is clearly an awesome idea that has caught on in a major way. That said, it’s about time Twitter finally understands that users want to access and filter information in new ways. No doubt the social networking site will be seeing some serious changes (hopefully for the better) in the coming months. 

(Via WSJ)