Twitter Founder Reveals Secret Formula for Online Success

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Twitter founder, Ev Williams, has “figured out the internet.”

According to a thought-provoking post on Wired, that’s what he told the gathered tech heads at the recent XOXO conference in Portland, Oregon:

The bottom line, Williams said, is that the internet is “a giant machine designed to give people what they want.” It’s not a utopia. It’s not magical. It’s simply an engine of convenience. Those who can tune that engine well — who solve basic human problems with greater speed and simplicity than those who came before — will profit immensely. Those who lose sight of basic human needs — who want to give people the next great idea — will have problems.

We often think of the internet enables you to do new things,” Williams said. “But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.

I think Ev is onto something.

If you want to be successful – online or anywhere – solve a problem people have.

Basic human needs have not changed, so what people want has not really changed. As a result, I think Ev is probably right that generally speaking people are not looking for the next best thing. We are looking to solve the same basic problems but in better ways – faster, easier, less costly, more consistently.

If you’re doing business online, this is huge!

But let’s not overlook the importance of this for churches, schools, ministries & nonprofits.

Whether you’re in a for profit business or a nonprofit/ministry, if Ev is right, we shouldn’t be creating websites, blogs and mobile apps to try to get people to do new things but rather creating them to help people do what they’re already doing (or want to do) faster, easier, less costly and more consistently. For example…

  • Can we make it faster, easier or more convenient for people to donate?
  • Can we get people the information they want about upcoming events faster or easier?
  • Can we provide learning opportunities so people can gain training or wisdom in ways that are better, faster or more convenient?
  • Can we help people deepen their relationships with other people within our organization online?
  • Can we help people connect with God more consistently?

These are not new things. These are things we can work to do more effectively online.

You can read the full Wired article here.

What do you think?

  • Is Ev Williams right that “people just want to do the same things they’ve always done” online?
  • Does this change the way you think about your online strategy and website?

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


    • Great post Paul, I agree that people are looking to find ways that make "their life" easier. Along came the internet and now people don't "want just more" information, but how they can "use" that information (like you have described, to register, donate, find, search, and connect) to get things done faster.

      • Thanks Ken. It comes down to understanding your "who's" and the problems they have.

    • Agreed. People don't have time to read through long instructions, or try to figure out what link to click on to get them where they want to go. Everything needs to be an easy process that takes them from point A to Z in a matter of seconds. Also, in this information age, we are becoming overwhelmed with information and now it's time to streamline and simplify the information, for quick access, ability to grasp information faster, and ability to quickly integrate. Great post.

    • I love your posts Paul. Many are thought provoking which is the goal of any effective communicator.

      • True Michael. But as they say… sometimes common sense is not all that common. 🙂

    • I have also respected this guy so much and have been lucky enough to meet and talk to him twice. I hope that everyone keeps experimenting with how they use and create tools on the internet