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Twitter’s @anywhere — nice diversion or next big thing?

Twitter CEO Evan Williams unveiled the site’s “@anywhere” feature at SXSW, as noted in today’s top story in SmartBrief on Social Media. The feature will allow third parties to integrate Twitter into their sites — a move that is  clearly a response to Facebook’s plans to integrate content through Facebook Connect.

One of the coolest planned features of @anywhere is its ability to automatically create links between Twitter accounts and mentions on a Web site. So say you’re reading a story on the New York Times site (the NYT is one of the early @anywhere partners) and you’re reading about a film director who sounds very intriguing to you. You’ll be able to move your mouse over the person’s name and a small box will appear, displaying their Twitter info. This strikes me as a great way to allow readers to seek out more information about the people and organizations that interest them, while at the same time making traditional press coverage from @anywhere participants even more relevant, because it opens the door to that deeper social connection.

It will be interesting to see whether features such as @anywhere and Facebook Connect end up making the home pages of social networks less valuable real estate. I wonder how this will affect revenue models, both for social networks and for the popular sites they are partnering with. While services such as Google Buzz work toward a unified social experience that stream out of one platform, these new features move in the opposite direction. They hint at a world where social networks are in the background of everything we do, a constant companion, but never the focus.

Are you excited about @anywhere? Do you favor the Buzz model of a unified social platform or the always-on background model suggested by features such as @anywhere? How will these new features change the way businesses use social networks?

Image credit, nmarques74, via Shutterstock

One of the coolest planned features of @anywhere is its ability to automatically create links between twitter accounts and mentions on a Web site.