Case Study: Competing in the Global Neighborhood

Some of you may have heard that there are a couple of other Twitter conferences out there besides ours: namely 140 The Twitter Conference in Mountain View and the 140 Characters Conference by Jeff Pulver in New York.  In fact, some of you may have received tweets from the helpful folks at 140tc telling you that you can get twice the content (two days) at half the price at their conference as opposed to TWTRCON SF 09.

christineptran: @bureau149 Well it’s half the cost and double the length. Less PR-types and more community-building types perhaps. #140tc

technopodge: @Fishdogs For my $ #140tc is better than twtrcon 2 day code 140rsh saves 10% at

Most of these tweets seem to be directed at people who have expressed interest in TWTRCON, or asked @TWTRCON a question.  This is certainly the case with @bureau149.  We can imagine Christine Tran and and Radi Shourbaji, dedicated 140tc volunteer tweeters, fingers poised at the keyboard, waiting for the #twtrcon search buzzer to go off.

Or how about this one, from Steve Broback, the 140tc founder:

140tc: @pchaney Paul! Steve Broback here. I have a freebee pass for you to #140tc, let me know if I can hand out a book flyers.

Setting aside the issue of what Steve is saying to all of his customers who may have paid for their passes (“half the cost” is still not as good as “freebee”), we have been following these tweets with a newfound respect for businesses who are trying to use Twitter to win customers.

What do you do when you have invested a lot of time, effort and money into building and promoting a high-quality product, only to have the competition harass your customers as they’re coming down the street and about to walk in the door?  In the real world, you’d move your store to a classier neighborhood.  On Twitter, it’s one neighborhood.

Our conclusion–though we’d certainly love your take on it–is that how you handle this situation depends on the kind of brand image you’re trying to create. Yes, we know, that’s how PR-types talk. Put it a different way, using the community metaphor: people decide which store to go to, and what kind of conference to attend, the same way they decide what kinds of people they like to hang out with.

So we figure we should focus on building the best conference program we possibly can, deliver lots of value, and then let people decide for themselves. Are we chumps? Let us know.

For the record, we really do think it’s a great thing that there are so many Twitter conferences out there.   One of the reasons we created TWTRCON is because there are so many issues to talk about.  We know that we won’t get to all of them in one day.  We think 140tc is creating what looks to be a really interesting program.  We’d go (if they gave us a freebee).  And we know Jeff Pulver is going to do a great job with his event. (Please invite us!)

That said, if you are focused on managing a Twitter strategy in a business environment, where you have to figure out issues like how how to respond to the competition in an open forum—or advising people who do, or creating products for people who do—then you are the person for whom we are building TWTRCON SF 09.  And we hope you’ll look at the incredible speaker lineup, the quality of the agenda, the partners who are involved, and the buzz around TWTRCON SF 09, and decide that this is the first Twitter conference ticket you’re going to buy.

See you at TWTRCON!