Is Twitter still "the future of online marketing"? Or is it just a 21st century babble machine?
Charmed by the new tool's potential, I recommended Twitter in my latest book. But today (only a year later), I think Twitter is collapsing under the weight of its own success.
Here are 5 reasons why I think Twitter is OVER and has "jumped the shark":
1. Twitter is too easy to use: Twitter has such a low threshold to use (only 140 characters per message and FREE), that people have no hesitation to babble. And less scrupulous marketers have no hesitation to spam.
“Big time” twitterers with large followings (or social media pros who are online all day) still find Twitter useful for conversation but the signal to noise ratio is dropping rapidly, making Twitter a less useful marketing tool every day.
2. Synchronicity - NOT: Twitter can only be used to communicate with people who are also on and active at the same time. This restricts Twitter’s utility to real-time conversations, often in the same time zone.
For example, since I am based in Los Angeles, I can easily communicate with fellow Tweeters in the Pacific Time Zone. But if I start my tweeting too late in the day, people in the Eastern Time Zone may be hard to reach, and my friends in Europe are virtually invisible to me on Twitter.
Where emails and podcasts are helpfully asynchronous, the requirement for both parties to be present in real-time is a fatal flaw in Twitter. It reminds me more of IM or even that old-fashioned telephone unfortunately.
If you have 1,000,000+ followers, or even a mere 25,000 followers, you probably still get some good reaction and click-throughs when you tweet something interesting. But you probably also benefited from rampant auto-following and the “Suggested Users” list of Twitter’s earlier days to accrue your big following. Even more likely is that you are already a celebrity or you devote more time to social media than most folks can because social media interaction is your job.
For most beginning marketers and small businesses today, the chance of ever accruing even 10,000 followers (much less 100k or more) looks remote. The silly days of auto-follow are over and nobody seems to be listening any more anyway.
4. Automation: Twitter has done a brilliant job of opening its architecture to share APIs and data with its partners. This has created a huge ecosystem of Twitter apps, tools, and services to augment Twitter.com’s own limited feature set.
5. Twitter Advertising: Coming soon Twitter will finally be trying to monetize all of its traffic and audience.
Is that what you need? More distractions for your Twitter followers' limited attention?
Lots of Talking – Is Anybody Listening Anymore?
It feels to me like Twitter has jumped the shark on its way to becoming the CB radio of the 1970’s, the telephone “party lines” of the 1980’s, and the huge real-time chats of Web 1.0 marketing in the 1990’s.
What’s Left for Marketers on Twitter?
I’m not sure yet. I'll keep tweeting at http://www.twitter.com/scott_fox, but I suspect that I’m not alone in feeling that Twitter just ain’t what it used to be.
Twitter will probably maintain its fun side as a place for social media professionals to have quick “watercooler” conversations, but that creates more of an echo chamber than a real marketing platform.
Will Twitter evolve to be just another alerts service? Or simply a quick delivery mechanism for 140 character teasers of meatier content posted elsewhere?
What do you think is next for Twitter?
Am I right that Twitter is headed for a big fall?
Where and how are you finding marketing value in Twitter today?
Thanks for visiting (and thanks to the New York Times for picking up this post!)
Scott Fox is author of Internet Riches, the best-selling guide to starting a business online, and also e-Riches 2.0: Next Generation Online Marketing Strategies, a new guide to Web 2.0 online marketing strategies. He is a former Southern California high tech executive, and involved heavily in local high tech groups. You can read more of Scott's thoughts at www.scottfox.com.