Blog Post

Seesmic Looks to Help Mainstream Users Watch Twitter

Many people only use Twitter to watch and hear from other people, often celebrities. To that end, Seesmic is reversing the trend of adding more and more features to Twitter clients, releasing today a tweet visualization tool called Seesmic Look, which it’s describing as “a visually rich and engaging way for users to keep track of the people, topics, news and brands from one of the most popular social networks in Twitter.” This is a tweet consumption tool, not tweet production — you don’t have to log in to Twitter to use it.

Look is currently only available for Windows (s msft) (old school!) and features the very first “powered by Twitter” logo for a third-party app through a formal contract with Twitter. Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur would not, however, disclose the terms of the agreement.

What’s very smart about how Seesmic is doing this is that brands will be able to pay for “channels” on Seesmic Look, which display their tweets and/or related topics and news, then distribute the branded software to their fans. Le Meur said this would cost a “fixed monthly fee,” waived right now for launch demos by folks such as Ellen DeGeneres, Reggie Bush, Kim Kardashian and even You’ll notice this is the first time Le Meur is actually talking about Seesmic making money; in the past he had waved it off as a future priority.

“We know Seesmic Desktop does not fit the needs of mainstream users simply because it’s by nature complex,” Le Meur said in an email. “People who heard about Twitter for the first time watching CNN or Oprah don’t need multiple Twitter accounts support and will never know what an hashtag is, like they never have heard about trackbacks or RSS feeds and never will.” He said he hoped power users would also enjoy sitting back and watching Twitter as well.

Seesmic has raised $12 million from investors including Omidyar Network and Wellington Partners.

8 Responses to “Seesmic Looks to Help Mainstream Users Watch Twitter”

  1. The “title” of this is really telling. Helping people “watch” Twitter.

    That is a massive shift in the End User Experience from Twitter a year ago. Has it become passive (like Olde TV), is it becoming a non-participatory and non-interactive platform?

    Does anyone really want to “watch” Twitter? The shift from “what are you doing” to “see what people are saying about” is complete (“see what paid people are saying about…”).

    Maybe SEESMIC are brilliant in calculating that people really only want to sit back and “watch,” with their beers and chips in hand, as the paid Celeb and Brand tweet streams flow by? Opiate of the People? Youbetcha.

    Please Lord, if you ever find me “watching” a paid-for tweet stream, send me out to pasture in a storm where lighting bolts can end all this nonsense.

  2. jimjerky

    sounds like a terrible idea to me. Why not have AOL let us all watch AIM? Or, how about Disqus letting us all watch comments on blogs? Let’s get real folks. Twitter is a blog service.

      • @liz I sure can’t.

        • Businesses in public spaces will largely want to control content/experience, particularly if there are Minors present. Realtime Twitter streams are too risky. Plus, “what channel to choose?” Having a television on, with FCC regulations, is not the same as an open forum where Ms. Tequila shows up…

        • Anyone can do a very similar customized Twitter App for their Brand directly through Twitter’s APIs and a little Flash – SEESMIC/LOOK doesn’t appear to have any proprietary value? Dumbing-down a downloadable App and thinking the Masses will follow instructions? Bon chance, mon ami. (Please, don’t equate this to Mobile apps, which are not for the “masses” based on percentages and real numbers).

        • The underlying notion of your comment is that TWITTER may excel at being more of a Microphone than it already is (a one way Noise maker expanded to public spaces/eBillboards). There are different theories at work, but, I believe people will tire of the one-directional SHOUTING applications and may eventually learn to favor Twitter for it’s conversational multi-directional prospects. Public Twitter Streams will hold some momentary fascination, but, it’s the interpersonal experience that will survive (maybe?).

        • From other reviews, it appears that the early-adopter Brands aren’t paying SEESMIC for this launch, they had to give it away; so, there is merely the hope that there is a model for future revenue, if anyone really writes a cheque for this? Maybe it’s good for another VC round, not sure about real dollars though?

        • Not many comments ever show up about how SEESMIC dropped their original business model and climbed 100% into bed with TWITTER? How risky is it to base your business exclusively on a company/platform you have zero control over?