The LAB: Innovating Twitter with S.I.T. (February 2012)

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Twitter continues to evolve with some 220 million users tweeting collectively 250 million times a day. It is a vast social network that has become the world’s “listening post” for events happening everywhere.  Major news organizations rely on Twitter to give early warning to breaking stories.

For this month’s LAB, we will apply all five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking to Twitter.  Our goal will be to create new features and innovations with the main Twitter platform as well as to create completely new applications related to Twitter.  Many “apps” tied to Twitter already exist, and you can find a thorough inventory here.

This is not the first time we have applied SIT to Twitter.  See my March 2009 post about using the innovation method on how to monetize Twitter.  Since then, not much has changed in their business model.

To use S.I.T., we start with the components of Twitter:
1.    Profile
2.    Photo
3.    People followed
4.    Followers
5.    Hashtags
6.    Tweets
7.    Re-tweets
8.    Groups
9.    Search
10.  Feeds
11.  Client
12.  API

We apply each of the five templates of S.I.T. one at a time to create new configurations.  We work backwards to identify potential benefits or new markets with that configuration.  In each example below, I apply a template and then try identify whether an app already exists.  This is a way to check the validity of the templates to create new value:

1.  SUBTRACTION: Removing an essential component

  • Virtual Product: Twitter account without the “tweeter” (person who owns the account).
  • Concept:  Your Twitter account pulls in and aggregates interesting factoids from around the social web and creates a tweet automatically.  It “auto tweets.”  Such an app exists. It’s called ProxiFeed (by invitation only).  Proxifeed creates and broadcasts automated postings into your Twitter feed. It uses keywords that match your areas of interest, then Proxifeed identifies relevant real-time web content. All done without the account owner involved.
  • Potential Benefits:  Creates a more dynamic Twitter presence, likely leading to more followers.

2.  MULTIPLICATION: Making a copy of a component but changing it in some way

  • Virtual Product: Create multiple Twitter accounts under one user.
  • Concept: It is called SplitTweet.  SplitTweet allows the Twitter users to compose a list of accounts and distribute their tweets, choosing their release in one or more of their accounts.
  • Potential Benefits: Broadens re-tweeting as it links to the Follower network of each account.

3.  TASK UNIFICATION:  Assigning an additional task to an existing resource

  • Virtual Product: A Twitter client that automatically fetches content for you.
  • Concept: It’s called LazyScope. It resides on your desktop, and it pulls in Twitter feeds along with any other feeds of interest (much like RSS).
  • Potential Benefits: Convenient, one place to look for all your social feeds.

4.  DIVISION:  Dividing a product or component either physically, functionally, or preserving (maintaining characteristics of the whole)

  • Virtual Product: Divide your Twitter followers into relevant groups (much like Google Circles).
  • Concept: It’s called Convore.  Convore is a quick way to instant message with groups of friends in real-time. You can join in on conversations about topics that interest you, or start your own conversations.
  • Potential Benefits: Keeps track of all your social web activity in relevant groups.

5.  ATTRIBUTE DEPENDENCY:  Creating (or breaking) dependencies between two internal attributes or an internal and external attribute.

  • Virtual Product: The information pulled in about a follower depends on what other social networks they belong to.
  • Concept: It’s called HoverMe.  Hoverme is a browser plugin that allows you to view the social web profile for each of your friends simply by mousing over their name in your Twitter stream.
  • Potential Benefits:  Better informed about Followers.