It’s only 3 years old, but Twitter seems to be transforming faster than it’s adding users. Two years under the radar, one year in steady growth; the fourth year (over 14 million members) is shaping up to possibly be “thee” year it will flirt with the mainstream. And that’s when I will have to completely re-evaluate the time I invest in it. I just don’t know if it will be up or down.
I’ve been carefully observing usage patterns to Twitter over time. There are the “I don’t get it” people but they Tweet anyway (annoying). There are those who join, become infatuated and after a while the shine wears off so they slow down or stop. Some are so generous with their thinking and ideas. For others it’s about collecting mass quantities of followers, no matter what (you know who you are).
If you have 50,000 followers and 50,000 people that you follow you we know you can’t keep up, so what do you do? Well, you start missing lots of Tweets and quite possibly retreat to a smaller group for regular communication. Some of my fellow Tweeters I connected with regularly a year ago have grown their base so much that I can barely break into the stream anymore. It’s like we’ve dropped off each others radar screen. Sure there is the direct message, but that gets lost like a Nigerian Prince financial plea buried in between two Viagra offers.
I am beginning to think that the more Twitter grows the less worth it will have for the individual. Value transfer is one of the big benefits of Social Media and nothing was more simple, pure or immediate than the Tweet. I once described it in an earlier post, Why I’m on Twitter and How I Use it, as being a spectrum of individual radio stations. That spectrum has now grown so fast that the value for the individual is at risk of being left behind.
It seems we are in a”star” phase. Celebrities are getting on board more and more and using it as another weapon in their PR arsenal. I have heard some celebs talk about how they are making more connections with fans, and use it as a way to do an end around the media. I like that. Direct, to the point, personal. Social Media at it’s best. But it will only have value as long as it’s sincere, which will of course vary.
Big brands continue to get on board and some are finding it to be an effective channel to communicate with prospects and customers on a personal level. The cost for a brand to be on Twitter is very low and worth the effort right now. The more followers a brand has the better, But it’s an inverse relationship for individuals. The more they have, the harder it is to extract value.
It’s good for Twitter that high profile people and brands jump in, but I wonder just how good it will be for everyone else. We don’t need Twitter to communicate with our friends, e-mail, text and oh yeah, the phone work great. So if you can’t break through to the interesting people for value exchange, then it just may end up not being as useful.
Still evolving, but you may want to set up an informal value-tracking mechanism of your own.