December 2009

Monthly Archive

Who’s got the users?

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 02 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Internet, Software

Loads of websites and web startups are all about the users, and how many of them they can get. Especially the ones that do some sort of matchmaking between a consumer and provider (landlords and tenants, sellers and buyers, employers and employees) always try to get to a point where they can boast a large number of participants of either side, so that they can lure more of them in. And how do you get there? Well, a great website that’s got something new and unique is a good start. Marketing helps too.

But there’s a new twist to this. Twitter’s success means there’s now a new way to go about it. Tweetalondoncab have come up with a smart way of harnessing Twitter to help match taxis with the people who need them. As they explain on their blog, you send a DM (direct message) to their Twitter account, which gets seen by all the participating taxi drivers. If there’s one available for the specified time and route, they give you a call, introduce themselves, arrange where exactly to pick you up, and give you their licence-plate number so that you know it’s them when they arrive.

That costs nothing to the users, and virtually nothing to the taxi drivers (apart from a bit of Twitter admin and working out the system). But, had they tried to come up with their own service for this from scratch, even after all the development effort, they would have had a hard time getting people on it. How do you find out about them? How do you contact them when you need them? Twitter on the other hand, gives them an existing messaging channel already used and recognised by all its members, and allows them to tap into the massive pool of Twitter users. And via the very nature of Twitter, word of mouth is quick and effective.

In short, the tables are reversed. Instead of coming up with a new website that tries to draw users to it and thus increase its people-centric value, one can tap into an existing community of users. It must be done with caution though, any sign of abuse, or lack of respect for Twitter’s main function in people’s daily communication, will send the brand’s karma plummeting.

Note: I used tweetalondoncab here merely as an example, but I must say that I have used them and they do provide a very good service. Worth a try!