Twitter Creates @anywhere, Opens the Social Web

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Twitter has been an open network for some time. Now, they are ready to expand beyond geekdom and attach a level of communication across the Web, using a simple system and a network of high-visibility websites.

The impending release, called @anywhere, will let users follow Twitter accounts and post updates (tweets) to their feeds without ever visiting Twitter.com. Rrom the Twitter blog: Imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page—and that’s just the beginning.

Initial partner sites include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo!, and YouTube. Amazon and eBay are particularly interesting, considering the availability of Amazon Associates and the eBay Partner Network, as well as Salesforce.com and their huge affiliate network. Functionality like this will add an entirely new layer of interactivity to the sales process, as well as offer the ability for products to be spread virally. But @anywhere is not limited to big media properties - individual site owners will be able to incorporate the network using only a few lines of javascript, according to Twitter.

In addition, having sites like Bing, Citysearch, Digg, and The New York Times will bring Twitter front and center to a new group of consumers who are not yet using Twitter. For those marketing products or content on Twitter, this could be huge. Of course, it could also result in massive overload for regular Twitter users. At any rate, it's a clear indication that Twitter is not satisfied being a niche service provider - they think they have a consumer-facing product that goes beyond geeks, bloggers, businesses and the press. And they have a good start - just about every major media company and website has their own Twitter account and they promote them relentlessly in print, on TV and even in radio.

If you think about it, @anywhere is a perfect evolution of Twitter, and a perfect antithesis to Facebook. Unlike Facebook, you don't need to know people to connect -- you just have to share a common interest or two. Now, users won't even need to visit Twitter.com to connect, share and discover content. This will allow these connections to be made Web-wide. Where Facebook is holding users (and advertisers) captive, Twitter is setting them free. So the next question is, how will Twitter monetize on this?

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