The Twitter Quick Bar is an attempt to insert an ad stream into users’ tweet streams. Unfortunately, it’s a massive fail – check out Marco Arment’s blog for an excellent overview and explanation.
It’s all about context
The problem is not that users are angry about advertising (or, at least, that isn’t the main problem). The problem is the complete lack of context. And that’s a problem due to the inherent nature of Twitter.
Twitter is the ultimate in contextual media. You follow people with interests you care about. When they tweet – presumably about things you care about – you get messages that you want and expect to see.
The Quick Bar is decontextualized. It’s about something that someone else cares about … someone who has paid a stack of dollars to Twitter to shove under your nose. As such, it’s the opposite of permission marketing. To use Seth Godin’s language, it’s interruption marketing.
The Twitter Quick Bar is the Charlie Sheen of UI design. A catastrophic meltdown no one saw coming.
(This is clueless and tone-deaf for Twitter … a company that should get this stuff. One can only assume that co-founder Jack Dorsey’s departure from an active, day-to-day role in the company has had a negative effect.)
But easy to fix
The simple solution for Twitter: segment your users by interest and attention. Then, instead of selling advertisers a shotgun of promoted tweets or hashtags, sell a sniper rifle of specific interests.
Now, your promoted tweets and hashtags are more relevant to your users.
And now, your users are less upset.
(But maybe not quite as easy.)