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Twitter’s SMS decision and a matter of trust

5 comments

Twitter has prompted campaigns on its own platform and across various media websites this week with its decision to stop supporting SMS.
The cost of sending out those tweets is just too much for the company behind the service to bear. According to its statement on Wednesday; “It pains us to take this measure. However, we need to avoid placing undue burden on our company and our service.”

Up until this week, users of Twitter could choose to receive all, or just some, of their tweets on mobile phones. It meant many journalists (myself included) were able to move seamlessly between a useful channel of communication in the office, to one on the move.

  
It also provided an easy way for many newspaper companies to offer “updates to your phone” services for everything from Manchester City updates (MEN) to breaking business news in the West Midlands (Birmingham Post) to sport on the move (Evening Leader).

Some of those pro-twitterers expressed their annoyance to journalism.co.uk and the sudden decision prompted howls of anguish all round.

Leading online journalism commentator Paul Bradshaw kicked off a campaign with a Facebook group  and some tools to change your avatar on Twitter and keep the campaign updated .

One of the avatars

One of the avatars

 The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss blogged on the issue  and then set up a poll to ask users whether they would pay for tweets.

The results at the time of this posting were predictable enough - the majority (including me) want it all and want it free.

And therein lies the problem, we’re used to getting lots for nowt.

Had Twitter introduced a charge at this point for a NEW SMS service, they may well have found enough people who’d welcome it as an enhancement, but simply taking something away that was provided for nothing does nothing for their case.

But regardless of what happns next, the unexpected change in policy has given me another headache completely unrelated to tweeting on the move – it’s a matter of trust.

It’s hard enough to persuade editorial managers, readers and website users to try something new, to reach outside of “our”structures and trust in tools provided by others without having them snatched away unexpectedly on a wet Wednesday morning.

Thanks to this decision, those services which set up offering, what seem to be easy solutions to tricky techie problems,  could well find it harder to build up so many trusting users in future.

 

Written by sarahhartley

August 16th, 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in Journalism

Tagged with , ,

5 Responses to 'Twitter’s SMS decision and a matter of trust'

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  1. I don’t get the outrage for a couple of reasons, but basically did Twitter do anything that most newspapers haven’t done? It’s little more than the discounted service to attract users/listeners.

    Becuase here’s the thing: anyone still wanting real-time, constant Tweet updates can still get them. All they have to do is sign up for a phone or phone plan that provides a decent amount of 3G.

    Expensive? Maybe. But it’s double standards for users to criticise a company for scaling back on grounds of cost when users won’t fork out for the service because it will cost them.

    Yes, I agree with you that people are getting too used to something for nowt, but perhaps a wake-up won’t do any harm for some people on that front. God knows a lot of web2.0 could do with a financial wake-up.

    As for getting people to try something new…I don’t know, Old-school traditional readers might not, but others might once you convince them of the benefit. For tabloids, I always saw it as a great way to transmit information from the Friday football pre-game conferences, Saturday games and so on.

    Craig McGill

    18 Aug 08 at 1:36 am

  2. I don’t get the outrage for a couple of reasons, but basically did Twitter do anything that most newspapers haven’t done? It’s little more than the discounted service to attract users/listeners.

    Becuase here’s the thing: anyone still wanting real-time, constant Tweet updates can still get them. All they have to do is sign up for a phone or phone plan that provides a decent amount of 3G.

    Expensive? Maybe. But it’s double standards for users to criticise a company for scaling back on grounds of cost when users won’t fork out for the service because it will cost them.

    Yes, I agree with you that people are getting too used to something for nowt, but perhaps a wake-up won’t do any harm for some people on that front. God knows a lot of web2.0 could do with a financial wake-up.

    As for getting people to try something new…I don’t know, Old-school traditional readers might not, but others might once you convince them of the benefit. For tabloids, I always saw it as a great way to transmit information from the Friday football pre-game conferences, Saturday games and so on.

    Craig McGill

    18 Aug 08 at 1:36 am

  3. I don’t get the outrage for a couple of reasons, but basically did Twitter do anything that most newspapers haven’t done? It’s little more than the discounted service to attract users/listeners.

    Becuase here’s the thing: anyone still wanting real-time, constant Tweet updates can still get them. All they have to do is sign up for a phone or phone plan that provides a decent amount of 3G.

    Expensive? Maybe. But it’s double standards for users to criticise a company for scaling back on grounds of cost when users won’t fork out for the service because it will cost them.

    Yes, I agree with you that people are getting too used to something for nowt, but perhaps a wake-up won’t do any harm for some people on that front. God knows a lot of web2.0 could do with a financial wake-up.

    As for getting people to try something new…I don’t know, Old-school traditional readers might not, but others might once you convince them of the benefit. For tabloids, I always saw it as a great way to transmit information from the Friday football pre-game conferences, Saturday games and so on.

    Craig McGill

    18 Aug 08 at 1:36 am

  4. [...] with a lot of newspaper sites for a good generation or so now, in digital terms. Look at the uproar when Twitter decided to stop supporting SMS tweeting because of cost issues last year – and that was only for a service which had been around for a short space of time. But [...]

  5. [...] with a lot of newspaper sites for a good generation or so now, in digital terms. Look at the uproar when Twitter decided to stop supporting SMS tweeting because of cost issues last year – and that was only for a service which had been around for a short space of time. But [...]

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