Twitter's @anywhere could prove risky for users

Companies can host tweets -- positive and negative -- about their products, people

Twitter's new @anywhere feature looks to be telling the social media world that you can run but you cannot hide from the spread of its tweets.

This new framework, dubbed @anywhere, is designed to help companies more easily display tweets about their products, people or events on their Web pages.

Analysts said the framework could spread Twitter activity far beyond its current boundaries.

"The name they've chosen is an obvious sign of what Twitter has in mind: They intend to be anywhere you are," said Augie Ray, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

"The strategy is to make Twitter the central spot for all real-time information and then make it easy to distribute that information back across an increasingly social Web. Think of Twitter following you as you visit eBay, the Huffington Post or And everywhere you visit, you'll find relevant up-to-date tweets, be able to follow anyone with a click and share what you're finding and reading without leaving the site you're visiting," Ray added. Twitter co-founder Evan Williams announced the new framework during a keynote speech at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas. Williams didn't provide a release date for the @anywhere framework.

Dan Olds, an analyst at the Gabriel Consulting Group, said that while increased use of Web 2.0 tools like Twitter can prove beneficial to companies, executives should also beware that displaying tweets without knowing the content could prove to be a double-edged sword.

"This is a natural evolution and extension of Twitter," he said. "A merchant could aggregate tweets about their product to show prospective customers what others have said. It can be like a mini-review -- 140 characters at a time. Other content providers, like movie studios, could do the same thing in order to build buzz.

"However, people need to keep in mind that this is a knife that cuts both ways," Olds added. "The search terms they use to gather up tweets about their new movie might bring in derogatory comments, too."

Twitterers, like most people who post anything online, have proven to be a rather in-your-face lot. If they don't like a new movie, a pair of shoes, an iPhone application or a laptop, they have no qualms in telling you -- and the world -- about it.

"The idea of putting a Twitter-like capability on a Web page could be very interesting or very risky," Enderle said. "This will be better on sites that already have some familiarity with audience feedback. Not so much with branded sites. Can you imagine, for instance, what a Twitter feed would look like on Toyota's site at the moment?"

Ray did note that said this is a good way for Twitter to begin reaching people who wouldn't normally be attracted to a microblogging site.

"The challenge Twitter faces is that, thus far, it primarily appeals to people who wish to create content, promote themselves or participate in real-time conversations," he added. "Twitter is not yet reaching those people who may simply be interested in consuming interesting content rather than creating it. Twitter's @anywhere promises to reach those people as they surf across their favorite sites, exposing them to interesting and relevant tweets and encouraging new users to join Twitter."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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