Twitter needs to be simpler, says CEO

Twitter’s goal in 2011 is to make the social networking service simpler to use across disparate platforms, chief executive Dick Costolo said Monday.
Noting that half of Twitter users are active on more than one platform (such as mobile clients, SMS, and the Twitter web site), Costolo said one shortcoming of Twitter is that the experience of using it on each platform was dissimilar, forcing users to figure out different ways to tweet.
“We need to make Twitter more simple so that every experience is the same,” Costolo said during a keynote presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “I shouldn’t have to think about how to use it on a different platform”
Costolo said Twitter “needs to be like my water in California – I turn it on and it works, and I don’t need to relearn how to do that.”
To that end, Twitter was spending time with OEMs, carriers and platform vendors to enable that, looking at solutions such as deeper integration in smartphones. “On Android, for example, we’ve done integration where if you take a photo, you can tweet that photo,” Costolo said. “We need that kind of integration that removes the veneer and complexity.”
Costolo also wants Twitter to help new users become engaged users more quickly.
“If a new user comes on and establishes a mutual follow – where you follow someone and they follow you back – they are far more likely to become an engaged user, and they start to follow accounts that don’t follow them back,” Costolo explained, saying the problem was the massive gap between awareness and engagement.
“We have to shorten the distance between awareness and engagement and be able to provide an instant timeline to that user,” he said.
Costolo said Twitter’s goals are fueled by its basic mission: to instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most meaningful to them. “When you provide value to users, that value will be returned to you multifold in ways you can’t imagine.”
That mission statement is also key to understanding just what Twitter is trying to do and the impact it can have on both individuals and its business customers. Costolo cited tweets during live TV events as an example.
“During the Super Bowl in the US we were processing 4,000 tweets per second,” he said. “In the US, when an episode of the TV show Glee starts, the tweets related to Glee go up 30x and stay there until the show ends. That means the second screen we’ve been talking about forever is already here.”
Costolo also said that Twitter will be working to improve things like local relevance for its Local Trends function, with one challenge being “multi-word trends”.
Twitter is also working to expand language support. On Monday Twitter launched its Translation Center, which crowdsources translation from its user base to enable Twitter to be launched in more local languages.
The new Translation Center adds Indonesian, Russian and Turkish to Twitter’s language capabilities. Portuguese will be added a little later this year.