Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Death of Twitter is a Myth

Getting overwhelmed with SMS or IMs from your Twitter list? Annoyed by random friend requests? Tried Twitter at SxSW and now you think it's about to Jump the Shark already?

Ease back on the throttle there, Fonzie. Twitter is no different than MySpace or Flickr or Blogger except in its immediacy and constant freshness, which accelerates everything. Every social web app goes through the same cycle of use/abuse/acceptance. You just have to master it, and not let it master you.

As I've experienced them over the last year, here are
The 12 Stages of Twitter:

1. Curiosity
2. Interest
3. Novelty
4. Excitement
5. Inviting everyone you know
6. Optional: Inviting the wrong person (skip to 9)
7. Massive use / Addiction
8. Slight abuse / accidental use
9. Annoyance / Frustration
10. Cutting way back
11. "Going dark" (or going "private")
12. Acceptance (back to 1)

This morning, my best friend from high school announced the birth of his baby boy on Twitter. You can't tell me that Twitter is dying when there are moments like these to be shared. Quickly!

My advice to you: skip to Step 10. Try Jaiku for a while, if you absolutely must post from your phone. Get Twitteriffic or Twidget or the forthcoming Twitter Apollo app in order to deal with the deluge.

But remember one thing: folks younger than you don't mind the interruptions, the constant Tweets. They adapt. They turn off their phone's text alerts. They cull their friend list. They write some code to help filter their information.

Twitter does not jump sharks. People use Twitter to jump sharks. The Death of Twitter is a Myth, people. You ain't seen nothing yet.


Unknown said...

Interesting post, Dom- although I'm both a Twitter cheerleader and closet skeptic of the service, I'm more concerned with the overall sustainability of the service, independently of it's demand/social relevance.

Odeo appeared to suffer disinterest from it's own leadership and faltered with no business model to sustain itself outside waning popularity and goodwill.
Myspace on the other hand - despite the crappiness of it's experience - got the attention of the major labels by allowing grassroots indie promoters to build lead lists rivalling the big boys, but Twitter - aside from enriching isolated personal moments by allowing them to be shared to a group list - does not seem to have attracted any similar marketspace relevance aside from the casual. And if Obvious is really just playing web 2.0 acquisition roulette with their app-du-jour, well- the wheel's now spinning and kinetic energy is not an endless source... ;-)

Doing one-off deals for promotions like or group promotions like the MacWorld feed are only sustainable as long as Twitter remains the critical darling it currently is- and with a rapidly-expanding market around it (jaiku, dodgeball, mixd, nowthen, joopz, et al) I'd be concerned with that 'promotional' business model going long-form. Is there some aspect or evolvement of Twitter that you would see being worth paying for? Services like Flickr and 37signals built in a business model from the start which gave them legs beyond initial hype- and Twitter has no such safety blanket should it lose it's current status as critical darling of the digerati.

I'd love to be entirely wrong here, of course. I have not recycled from step 12 to 1 in your scale, but am accepting the signal-to-noise ratio and simply managing my contacts/updates appropriately. And unless Twitter falters as Odeo before it I'll still use the service actively, but I'm not entirely convinced Twitter's is going to be decided upon solely how it's advocates deal with these 12 stages of social acceptance- I see it more as the service needing very keenly to find a distinct area of relevance and a model for sustainability in a very crowded social appspace market. Sure, it fills some need we hadn't realized before Twitter's existance, but is that alone sustainable?

Methinks time alone will tell...

Unknown said...

Oh, one other thing:

>> But remember one thing: folks younger than you don't mind the interruptions, the constant Tweets. They adapt. They turn off their phone's text alerts. They cull their friend list. They write some code to help filter their information. <<

And folks older than myself do not? ;-)

I think a younger generation approaches social applications also from a more aspirational social perspective - looking more to be part of a group regardless of how large and/or unmanageable that group really is. I don't see younger users necessarily more skilled in managing their flood, but less likely to be annoyed by it because of the popularity and status it suggests. As one gets older and more comfortable with their own self-esteem, popularity and social status is often less important, and quality of conversation trumps quantity (IMHO).

(spoken as someone who often likes both quantity and quality, for my own self-serving reasons... lol)