With the spectacular growth of Draw Something there’s been renewed chatter about whether Twitter is a viable platform for other products to grow on. Draw Some, after all, at least partly attributes their unprecedented growth to Twitter.
Will we finally be able to see a product grow and monetize with Twitter as its primary communication channel? Does Draw Some hold any lessons for other non-game products being able to use Twitter for growth and retention?
First, let’s establish what we need from a channel. To oversimplify, we want two things from “virality”:
1. The ability to acquire new users
2. The ability to retain current users
For example email offers both of these since I can invite a new user to the service, or bring a current user back by, say, letting them know that a friend just posted a picture of
them. But with notoriously bad CTRs on email its a crappy channel for both new and retained communication in most circumstances.
Communication for retaining users is often overlooked but incredibly critical. For example there was a long time where Facebook basically made it impossible to acquire new users through the feed because it would only show the item to people who had already installed that app. However the feed still was a critical channel. It just became something more akin to push messaging on an iPhone, a way to let people know to come back.
Through that lens we can look at Draw Something, as well as previous efforts like Spyhunter, and see where Twitter fits.
Twitter today feels like it can be a viable channel for user acquisition, for the right type of content that is tailored to be broadcast to strangers. After all, social games from Cafe World to Idle Worship are now allowing you to play with strangers on Facebook, which is far more tenuous a connection than the follower model of Twitter. Twitter, which thrives on the psychology of pride, can be a great outlet for things folks would be >proud of (ie a drawing) versus a beg need.
But it still feels particularly bad as a communication channel for retention. With Twitter seemingly slowly deprecating direct messaging, and throttling them regardless, there is no private way to message a friend that is akin to email or FB requests. And that means to get an appropriate volume your public twitter stream basically needs to be about that product, which very few people are willing to subjugate themselves to.
That just means it can be part of, just not all, of a product strategy. For instance an interesting thing about mobile is that you have a retention channel already, push messaging. So perhaps there will be a new wave of products that take advantage of channels like Twitter, Instagram, Path, and Pinterest for new user acqusition, and then use mobile push messaging (hopefully messages with meaning) that drive retention.
disclosure: Omgpop (makers of Draw Something) and Twitter are Spark portfolio companies