Twitter is Dying: Predictions on the Evolution of Micro-blogging

Today, you will be reading a guest post from Nate Riggs (social network lead generation guru).  He has some very interesting insights to share and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

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Marketing VOX and Business Insider recently released a report entitled Six in 10 Twitter Users Jump Ship Each Month detailing the last few months of exponential user growth and the subsequent lacking retention rates.  This is not at all surprising to me.

It’s evident that Twitter has become bombarded with new curious users who are eager to jump on the bandwagon.  What’s event more interesting is that according to a February study by ComScore, The majority of Twitter users worldwide are 35 or older. Young adults 18-24 make up only 10.6% of the Twitter population in the US and are less likely than the average user to Tweet.

Let’s look at what this means. First, the generation of super-users (Young Adults 18-24) who have grown up using Facebook and MySpace, and leaders in the cultural of social media communication don’t seem to care much about Twitter.  This audience clearly understands the nuts and bolts of social media communication.  They have never really known a world without it.

Now take into consideration that the early adopters of Twitter are, for the most part, among a population who is still trying to make sense of social media and how it can be used.  This audience grew up in the age of Television advertising and daytime talk shows.  They have grown accustomed to mass media communication and the shot gun approach, and what’s interesting is that a significant segment of this audience has learned of Twitter through TV.  Here is an example of what I mean.  Check out Ellen and P-Diddy’s discussion as well.

The Death of Twitter
The concept of mass micro-blogging is flawed.  We know that the new web is about speed and scalability. But, if peer-to-peer driven social media is rooted in applying of the web to facilitate and accelerate interpersonal communication and create context, it makes sense that any platform that grows as quickly as Twitter will become saturated with users who don’t necessarily understand nor care to play by the established cultural rules.

Because of the recent mainstream media explosion, Twitter’s sudden “exponential” growth damaged the integrity of the community.  More tenured Tweeters are now watching what was once a place to communicate with other like-minded users evolve into a platform filled with SPAM and automated DM’s asking them to “check out my blog” or “visit this site if you want to get 10,000 followers fast!”.

My Prediction on the future of Micro-Blogging
A few months back (while still on Blogger) I wrote an article discussing the long tail of social communities and the movement toward smaller niche audience platforms where users were focused, passionate and engaged in the topic.

In the next 6 to 12 months, I believe we are going to see an influx of smaller, more niche Micro-blogging sites that will begin to pull users.  Yammer, a closed circuit micro-blogging tool designed for internal company communication launched last September and is already paving the way for this evolution.

So what are your ideas on this?  Am I crazy or could this actually happen?  What type of niche micro-blog would you sign up for?

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4 Comments

Filed under Social Media, Strategy

4 responses to “Twitter is Dying: Predictions on the Evolution of Micro-blogging

  1. I think you are dead on with these assumptions. I am of the “Super User” age group, and I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out how to utilize Twitter as a platform for social media marketing.

    My biggest issue is that while I may Tweet once or twice a day, my tweets get pushed down the board by those Twitterers who post once or twice a minute.

    I think the Twi-Spam or the ‘random’ jargon is kind of annoying, as I really only prefer to talk about information or articles that are useful. What do you think?

    Also, you’re dead on with your prediction. I think that once the older generation (who just seems to be curious right now) figures out that it’s not worthwhile, they will start to jump ship in droves…

  2. Good article Nate. I agree with you to a certain point. I think the statistics are a bit skewed only because Twitter hit mainstream thanks to celebs who themselves don’t use best practices in the application and would prefer to broadcast which I have always said is the wrong way to go about it. They have never read Seth Godin’s book, Tribes.

    Should we judge the success and effectiveness of a social media tool like Twitter based on the numbers? This is the old ROI way of thinking vs. the new intangible as you put it ROO (Return On Opportunity). I’ve always said Twitter and other SM marcom channels has been about the quality and content will always win over quantity and the old school approach that execs are still trying to shove down users throats in the aforementioned shotgun approach. I think your core pre-publicity industry professionals and businesses will continue to use it for is Swiss Army knife functionality in a real time perspective.

    The idea of Yammer is great, but it (closed circuit) does the opposite of previous discussions in that the pros and cons of inclusiveness vs. the competitive strategy of being exclusive in a social media environment. Is it good for having a decentralized business meeting for creating ideas and growing a companies competitive strategy? Yes, but the things it doesn’t do is public relations for that company, educate the employees of that company or help that company prospect for Twitter accounts that ask a question relevant to starting a engaging relationship that could possibly turn into revenue.

    So while the the charts don’t lie I think there is more too it. Only time will tell. Eventually there will be something that replaces all three SM applications, but feel that it might be premature to call the time of death on Twitter. We are stuck in that constant battle of the short term vs long term, aka hours invested. Walking that tight rope of balance is the fun part. Again, I point to the next generation as the deciding factor. While we look at the short term as the current people who have money in the baby boom generation who live in the traditional media world we have to be mindful of the future target market and competitor in the generation that will teach us a thing or two. The high school kids and younger who can text like a robot with one thumb while listening to their iPhone.

    I await your rebuttal. Heh.

  3. dennisstevenson

    Nate,

    I think you’re crazy.

    I thought social networking went through a dumbing down phase when Facebook adoption took off in the mass market. Most of the people who jumped on that bandwagon had no idea of the secret code of social media. But it seems to me that Facebook is doing fine.

    Most of the passionate advocates I know for Twitter… people who really use it and think deeply about it are in the 35+ camp. @stoweboyd, @pistachio, @dennishowlett, @scobleizer… I do think Twitter has gone more mainstream, and certainly that is changing its vibe. But I think it was already pretty firmly rooted there in that age group.

    Yeah, a majority of people today who try it out won’t use it tomorrow. Sure. But remember this, TWITTER PAYS NOTHING TO ACQUIRE THOSE USERS. This is not something that is a big financial drag on twitter. This first time (temporary) adoption is viral. People are experimenting to see what works for them. I’ll bet most of the abandonment comes from folks who don’t understand what it’s all about (even after trying) or why it adds value to them.

    I use Yammer – for a specific work context as well as Twitter for a different context. So far Twitter has survived identi.ca and plurk and several other competitors. Perhaps we will see a settling down into a more niche play. But I thing the grand-daddy will still hang on anyway, letting others nail down the corners. Right now Twitter has traction with a lot of people, and that as a network means value to those who want it.

    I think twitter is just fine for now and the current shadow is more dust in the air that will eventually settle.

    Follow me on twitter at @denthewise

  4. I think you’re correct that Twitter or anything else that’s like it will cease to be important, as it stands alone. But it’s the data (and the type of data) that will change – not the format.

    We will begin to contribute more meaningful information, and we will begin to follow *subjects*, not people. And the data will come from the entire web, not from a single application.

    So yes, the current application of microblogging as a self-indulgent fad will go away. (hopefully soon.) But short messages as a content contribution model will drive the next wave of information access.

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