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Lessons Learned from Sharing Twist With My Network

I’ve written a few posts about how I think about location sharing and location sharing applications, the latest of which is this one. One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had of late is trying to activate my network to start using Twist. For those who are unfamiliar, Twist is a mobile app that allows you to share both your current location and your ETA with someone else. I find myself continuing to use it more and more each day for three primary use cases:

  • Given the current awful state of Bay Area traffic, I generally send a Twist whenever I am heading to or from San Francisco to or from the Peninsula. Originally I used Twist to just to tell people when I was running late, but now I send it out in advance because sometimes it turns out I’ll arrive early and we can actually start a meeting sooner.
  • For my intra San Francisco meetings, I use it in much the same way – I like to walk to most of my meetings when possible (and Lyft or Uber when necessary). It’s surprisingly easy to make bad guesses when it comes to the time required to get from one meeting to the next and I feel better when the other person has some visibility that I’m on my way and when I’ll arrive.
  • The third use case is social (as opposed to professional). If I’m going to pick up a friend or meet someone, I’ll usually send a Twist so that I know that I’m on my way. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of when I’ll actually get there and is super useful when you’re trying to pick someone up and want them to know that you’re on your way.

I tend to have two experiences when I send someone a Twist, which suggests that they install the app so they can have the same experience.

  • Whoa, this is really cool – I got to see when you were on your way. Totally downloading this app.
  • What is this and why are you sending me this Twist thing? Just text me when you’re on your way.

I honestly don’t get anything other than these two polar responses. There isn’t any really anything that predicts where someone will land on that spectrum, either. I have some techie friends who love apps and don’t particularly like Twist and I have some late adopter friends who have really taken to using the app aggressively. I also have friends across a pretty wide age spectrum and even age doesn’t seem to predict whether someone will like the experience or not.

The one thing I’ve seen that seems to be predictive of adoption and usage is the “ah ha” moment of getting insight into someone’s ETA when their initial guess or suggestion as to when they’ll arrive. At the end of the day, I do think Twist really competes with the alternatives of sending a text to tell someone you’re on your way or simply doing nothing and hoping you arrive on time. If people have that “ah ha” moment on their first or second experience with the app, I bet it sticks. If they don’t perhaps it doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort beyond using a text.

If you use any of the location sharing applications and have experiences you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below or send me a note on Twitter @chudson.

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