What Happens When Twitter Gets Mainstream Attention

Twitter is getting a tremendous amount of buzz from brands, celebrities, media, politicians, and athletes. Despite the hype, it’s still a very small social networking site (likely under 10mm), compared to the social giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and MySpace (150-300mm), see my stats page to learn more. I assert that mainstream attention is different than mainstream usage.

Even respected analyst firm Gartner suggests that the backlash may start as this microblogging tool gets mainstream attention, although I’ll suggest we haven’t even begun to see the upcoming revolt, as the pivot point is dependent on mainstream usage.

Here’s what we should expect to happen over the next few months:

Mainstream media and celebrities to flood Twitter
The tool, having received attention from the elections and political media engines has slowly gained the attention of local based TV news and talk show hosts. It’s hard to listen to a talk show, or watch local news without hearing a self-pitch to follow their Twitter account. With several celebrities jumping on board and playing the ratings game (first to a million) we should expect this to be a wake up call to the rest of celebrities and mainstream.

Most media and celebrities will use as a broadcast tool
Being world famous comes with challenges, it’s hard to tell who your friends are, and as a result, they will likely use these tools to communicate with each other, or talk about their personal insights. We shouldn’t expect them to engage in individual conversations with their community. These stars simple can’t scale, are busy, and well, have better things to do. Expect some to hire community managers (Britney does this) that interact with their followers and post up one-way information. As a result, expect this to primarily be used as an insiders tool among the elite, but primarily as a broadcast tool, which is what they do best.

Empowered, celebrities will fend off tabloids
Ashton gets self-empowerment from social media, in fact, he commented that he’s now got the power of a large media network, despite being a single individual. As a result, expect celebs to bypass intermediaries like tabloids, instead they will directly speak to the people using these self-publishing tools. Celebs are now more empowered than ever before.

Increase in brands listening then they’ll join Twitter
Brands, in an ever quest to follow communities and customers are quickly launching Twitter accounts, or dealing with those that have taken over their own namesakes. Now with mainstream attention, expect more brands to jump on board, and within a few months, it’ll be an account grabbing experience, much like we saw in late 90s when companies were registering domains. I’m waiting to see some celebrities promote brands right on Twitter “I drink @coke, don’t you?”

Users get new experience with mainstream –yet many will revolt
The conversation with Twitter has always felt personal, with the exception of the elite ‘A-lister’ community. Now, many people will be excited about the chance to interact with celebrities and get to know their personal experiences, but after a while, the excitement will wane, and people will move back to connecting with their true friends.

The geek ‘A-List’ early adopters seek a new stage
The ‘A-Listers’ are now just ‘B-Listers’ again, in fact, this list of the most popular twitter users has dramatically shifted to mainstream media. We’re already starting to see some early adopter geeks, those that first experimented and evangelize the tool to seek other communities to join that aren’t saturated. I was one of those early adopters in early 2007, but I embrace the mainstream media in this media, it’s validating, although I expect many of them to approach it without fully understanding. Expect the early adopters to shift back to blogs, Friendfeed, or put up stronger filters in Twitter. The power is shifting back, and the bruised egos will force them to move on.

Celebrities will monetize faster than Twitter themselves…
Twitter has only experimented with different ways to monetize such as this sponsored aggregation campaign, but we should expect that celebs will cascade their sponsorships to Twitter, promote their latest work, or benefit from word of mouth marketing. Collectively, celebs have likely generated more revenue from Twitter than Twitter themselves.

…Yet expect Twitter to monetize brands, media and celebrities
Twitter has indicated that they plan to offer features and tools that help brands (whether it be corporate, media, or celeb) to help them manage their own accounts and information. Expect them to launch new platforms that involve sponsorship, advertising, and potentially lead management (like CRM).

More Hay and less Needles
This increase in people, and brands of all sorts joining Twitter will cause more noise and content to be created. We haven’t even seen the half of it, as devices like your car, laptop, can start auto-emitting signals that could become tweets. As a result, expect more filtering tools and analysis by humans to matter more and more.

I’m having breakfast with Steve Rubel tomorrow morning, he says he thinks Twitter will never be the same, I’ll update this post linking to his followup.

Love to hear from you in the comments, has Twitter reached a tipping point? (update: or perhaps, “Twipping Point“) If so, what happens next? How does this change your experience? Are you using Twitter to follow friends? get news? or interact with celebs?

134 Replies to “What Happens When Twitter Gets Mainstream Attention”

  1. I have mixed feelings bout the Celebs… I blogged differant posts …In one post alluding to the fact that some care, some don’t and me personally (don’t care one way of the other). The beauty of Twitter is that one can follow, and unfollow whomever they want … Even if I do not follow an @oprah …If someone I follow starts tweeting with too much “@oprah’s” and that bothers me for some reason..I can simply unfollow them.

    Having said that though, I am seeing one bothersome shift that I do NOT have control over… The “quality” of user that is now following me on a daily basis… I am starting to be followed more and more on a daily basis by opportunists, wanna be brands, and people whom I categorize as following ONLY to get as many followers for themselves as possible ‘the OPEN networker types’ that I had previously seen on LinkedIn.

    This bothers me, because it is time consuming to look at who is following me to determine if I want to follow them back. Hopefully the aforementioned will be a fad, and things will be back to the early days …but I think not.


  2. I definitely think that because Twitter is so scalable a lot of celebrity influx and mainstream attention isn’t going to damage anything besides service (increased fail whale sightings).

    I’m not on Twitter because of Ashton Kutcher or Oprah. I’m on Twitter because I want to learn every single nuance of marketing, PR and social media to improve my game. The best and the brightest are on there…so I am too.

  3. Twitter has gone mainstream but, if anything, it is a blessing for the platform and it’s users as long as Twitter properly leverages the new found attention and capitalizes upon new users.

    For those interested, check out my recent blog post on the subject and my thoughts on what Twitter must do to grow into a profitable company, not just a cool company:



  4. In my opinion, Stuart says it best in the last comment:

    “I™m not on Twitter because of Ashton Kutcher or Oprah. I™m on Twitter because I want to learn every single nuance of marketing, PR and social media to improve my game. The best and the brightest are on there¦so I am too.”

    Quite frankly, I don’t care if Oprah or Kutcher is on twitter. I don’t plan to follow either one. Who I do follow are those I can interact and learn from. I don’t see that happening with celebs nor the “mainstrem”.

    While I do think the celebs will bring some to twitter who would have never come in the first place. I also venture to guess their interest in twitter will be short lived at best. They will quickly migrate back to FaceBook where they belong.

  5. Hi Jeremiah,

    I dont think twitter is at tipping point or has reached mainstream useage yet. Maybe in the US this has occured however in Australia this has not! I believe there is alot left in the twitter tank.

    I twitter on the tweetdeck browser, fantastic tool for keyword search!! Saves me alot of time!

    Happy Twittering
    (You can find me twittering at crowdfunding)

  6. Hi Jeremiah

    Firstly congrats on the new design ( seems to be a lot more friendly ) appreciate the ” twipping ” point agree that the geeks have bruised egoes & will move on ore become even more gated !

    Could twitter have ” JUMPED THE SHARK ” with the Opera thing causing more damage as she clearly uses this tool for her own ego & does not have a clue as to the true magic of ” long stail media ”

    We should not jump to any conclusion in these exciting ” nascent ” times ,

    much appreciated – leon@osmosis

    ps : thanx for making your tweets a tad more personal !

  7. I believe Twitter will be a powerful tool for celebraties , talk show programs and even CNN, I knew Twitter from CNN, What the benefit can an ordinary people get from Twitter, except sharing when you get up (which nobody cares)

  8. I’m researching the metaphorical idea we have of community in the online world. What I wonder is whether we’ll see the rise of even more niche communities built off of Twitter that are focused on common characteristics of members. As Twitter becomes more saturated with people we *don’t* want to relate with, there might be an instinctual urge to reconnect in a different space where we feel more in common with others. I’m not sure if we’ll seek out types of “gated” communities, but I think those who tire of being followed by hucksters and shallow open networks might already be searching out better locations to create new online communities.

  9. AF thanks, it seems that some of the commenters will follow who they want to, regardless of any celeb influx.

    osmosisfutzing, I tend to tweet about whatever I’m doing, as a result, I’m usually working M-F and that’s all I really tweet about. The weekends? Well, that’s a different story.

  10. Jeremiah,

    Timely post indeed. There’s no doubt that twitter’s mainstreaming, that it’s changing, and with it, our experience is also. Twitter has virtually no social constraints built into it — which has been cause for its explosive growth, but could also lead to repercussions and unintended consequences down the road.

    Having become more and more a numbers game (if they just switched off the follower number…), real media celebs will dwarf the rest of us in follower numbers. The tagline could now be “Whose attention do you want,” in place of “What are you doing?” Attention garnered by celebs is shared by new user fans currently in a symbiotic and kind of tacit arrangement. But that could fade if fans switch from a “social” mode of use to a personal one (as many of us have). Apps like tweetdeck make that easy.

    As twitter mainstreams, new user practices will probably run like myspace — capturing visibility and profile by means of followers. And as its utility as a chat channel increases for new users, some may adopt more personal practices.

    Danah Boyd might have some interesting thoughts on the teen/youth practices on twitter (@zephoria). And on whether twitter’s appeal to Gen Y will be as a social medium or as a personal one (or a blend of the two).

    I suspect that many brands on twitter will quickly realize, as you’ve mentioned before, that tweeting as customer service doesn’t scale, and that as a branding vehicle the battle for attention that characterizes mass media is the same on (mass) social media. In fact twitter may be unique in that its lack of social constraints makes it the most mass media of social media tools. This would put the conversational branding approach in question (pity), and result in analytics used simply to monitor and count (not listen and learn): the game would become akin to counting subscriptions (magazines), circulation, and pass along.

    SEO and SEM then step in, and the whole thing becomes a live google.

    These changes notwithstanding, many of us who use twitter professionally will still be here, perhaps not in the gorge but kicking it upstream in the smaller and calmer rivulets we’ve been creating for ourselves all this time.


  11. This recent celebrification of twitter is quite interesting. I have friends who found my tweeting silly and superfluous for the past year, regardless of how many times I explained that I was following very smart people, from both a social media and marketing standpoint.

    But now with Trent Reznor, Dave Matthews, Moby and other musicians who are posting themselves, those same friends find the value they were looking for…learning from folks they are interested in. They love music and love that very personal experience they get from reading their tweets.

    I was not a fan of aplusk’s stunt this week because it’s not about the how many of followers, but the who of followers, and that fact was not made clear. However, he did bring a huge amount of attention to twitter and I am sure some of these new folks will find value here, and the rest will never tweet again. And if Oprah wants in, hey come on down and bring your millions of followers. But help ev and biz make some money, so they can afford all the new servers and keep the fail whale away.

    In the meantime, twitter has become a richer more engaging place to explore, and there’s no reason not to say welcome… the more the merrier. All I can say is thank goodness for tweetdeck..so I don’t have to read all the new tweets, and I can still follow the folks I have learned so much from in the past year!

  12. Stuart, Grant

    Good points, you’ve toggles now on Twitter to follow who you want and see the content you want to. Remember MySpace? At one point, it was like that, but then the media companies moved in and starting to do full-page buyouts.

    I’m going to assert it’s just a matter of time before Twitter monetizes by inserting branded content directly in front of users –whether they want it or not.

  13. Adrian, good points. See my last comment, we’re in synch with looking at what happened to MySpace. As far as I know, Twitter has been pretty reluctant to make twitter truly search engine friendly. I recall reading that they had no follow for links?

    Howlvenice. Expect many other celebs and media brands to do similar’ Follow me” stunts, this is JUST the start.

  14. Jeremiah,

    Many former geek ‘A-listers’ have indeed been on FriendFeed for more than one year now; with the renewed and simpler user interface of FriendFeed I agree that it might well be the place to go to for those former ‘A-listers’.

    With the powerful search and filter functionality of FriendFeed, I find it much easier to look for very specific information on the latest technology trends on FriendFeed; I expect that more and more Twitter users will find out those benefits too.

  15. Whether or not oprah marks twitters half-life, I think one permanent change twitter has helped cultivate is the concept of being open, transparent, and vulnerable. Add to that the long list of tools that help companies manage and retain their customers (getsatisfaction, uservoice, tendersupport) and you have compounding user expectations for bare minimum service requirements.

    As a more private user of the service until recently, I am using twitter mostly to keep track of my home state and working to assimilate back into the locations culture after being out of country for half a year. Then there is the private account we all have but don’t use, and the virtual grouping via tweetdeck for neat people and new friends.

    As for the jumping-the-oprah, I am sensing some tension amongst active business/personal twitter users I know. It’s less twitter-is-changing and more twitter-is-draining. The time is ripe for something new. I think twitter still has some gas in the engine (i.e. my grandma isn’t on twitter, yet). I have a gut feeling that _something_ is coming from Google. I don’t have any data but it feels to me that Google is doing something correct and it keeps slipping pass my radar: google connect cropping up, slick sign in integration with their tools. It’s all too frequent to be noise. My spidey-senses are telling me something is going to drop soon — or has and we didn’t notice.

  16. Erik good point about generations.

    We haven’t seen an influx of Generation Y come in. If, and only if they do, you can expect this chat heavy, mobile slinging generation to really take it to a new level.

  17. I agree for the most part, however, I think those that join simply because Ashton or Oprah are on, will also be the first to abandon Twitter. For the most part, those who don’t understand Twitter simply assume it’s like Facebook’s status updates. However, those who are “celeb hogs” or like to follow people who are famous are also pretty vain themselves. Once they realize that these celebs aren’t following them back or interacting with them, they’ll get bored and go back to Facebook. Also, since Twitter doesn’t allow the profiles to be as in depth, people will again get bored, and go back to FB. The appeal with FB is that people can post pics and interact a lot easier. Twitter isn’t that and won’t become that.

    I agree that we’ll soon get flooded with celebs on Twitter. Their purpose is to promote their brand – themselves. Twitter is a good tool to do that. But I don’t think it’ll become the norm and take over for tabloids. It’ll be another tool for them, like FB & MySpace, to talk about themselves and promote their movies, songs, etc.

    Those who are on to engage in two-way communication and to develop communities will still do such, only in a more difficult manner. But like any media, it’s not suppose to be easy. True brands and true SM folks will adapt and overcome. Those that are weak won’t. But that is like any other form of media.

  18. Personally, I use Twitter to follow people that I will learn from or who make me laugh. I have never used Auto-follow because I find it impersonal. But I agree with Andrew that it is incredibly time consuming to vet new followers, with so many spammers and self-promoters hopping on the bandwagon. So, if I don’t recognize a new follower, I have taken a cue from Mack Collier and follow people if they @me with something interesting. And filtering is a necessity for me. Thank God for TweetDeck groups. I know that I can quickly scan “My Ladies” group for an instant boost in morale and a hearty chuckle. And I can always turn to “SoMe peep” for valuable industry news and commentary. I’ve developed pretty great relationships and communities with people whom I might never otherwise have been introduced.

    Now, professionally, I use Twitter entirely differently. Full disclosure: I am in marketing. I use it as a listening tool to hear what consumers are saying about a brand, service or industry. So, it’s valuable to have more consumers to reach. However, every day I question the line between engagement and intrusiveness. I try not to hijack a conversation and only jump in if I have something relevant to offer. Cocktail conversation etiquette.

    I like the fact that you call attention to the need for more human analysis and guidance in embracing and effectively using these tools. That’s very promising for the folks who are passionate about the ability to change the marketing paradigm. I think it will quickly become apparent who is simply using new mediums to broadcast the same tired messages. But, the brands and professionals that adapt their strategies to take advantage of how their consumer wants to be reached will distinguish themselves and succeed.

    I think it is wonderful that the mainstream is adopting Twitter. It’s not some super secret society of geek allstars. It’s a communication tool. I look forward to the ability to hear fresh voices and potentially find some interesting new people to follow.

    That said, I don’t watch Oprah on TV, so I will definitely not be following her on Twitter. But kudos to the hundreds of thousands of watchers who can now meet each other and bond over similar interests. I expect there will be some pretty interesting relationships formed as like-minded viewers begin to interact.

  19. Great post Jeremiah. The use and usefulness of Twitter has evolved a number of times since it was first released, and I’m sure that will continue. To a large extent it’s the users of Twitter who determine what it is, based on what they tweet, who they decide to follow and why.

    I think it can be a real challenge to find and filter relevant content on Twitter, and that there’s opportunity in helping people navigate the Twittersphere. That’s why we recently released http://localtweeps.com, the LOCAL Twitter directory that helps people make connections and find real time, relevant local information down to the ZIP code level.

    At it’s best, Twitter is more about community and conversation than a one way stream of celebrity (un)consciousness. Thanks for sharing your insights. Look forward to your updates!

  20. Jeremiah,
    You always provide insights, food for thought and information that is illuminating. My take: the numbers game of followers reminds me of the competitive “mine’s bigger than yours” game that is so prevalent and, frankly, wearisome.
    But Twitter has juice and so many viable/helpful applications in medicine, community services, research,etc that are beyond the celebrity world.
    However, I learned that my friend’s 20 college age son said,”Oh Mom, twitter is for older people!” Talk about a blow to the ego! OUCH.

  21. I made the mistake of suggesting Oprah Winfrey might make a good keynote at Blog World Expo. The torches and pitchforks were out fast. I think we may see a shift in the way we handle social networks. It may become somewhat of a walled garden again where the cool kids all make their own groups and you get invited in. You have to prove you are not a celeb or a spammer or otherwise. Then like the Playboy mansion we all want the key to the front door and will pay handsomely to get in, like Jason Calacanis wanting to get on the suggested user list. I’m not sure where it is all going, but it is very interesting to watch as human nature plays with technology.

  22. Twitter has reached mainstream. No doubt about that.
    What really concerns me is this hypster-divide beteween A-listers and celebrities, where the previous pioneers say the beauty of Twitter is now over.

    As if. As if email was abandoned just because now everyone has 4 or 5 emails accounts. Twitter is now a platform, and as such, new ways of using and new demographics will appear. I’m sorry for everyone wishing that Twitter was just like the old days. It won’t be. Curious how those advocating for open platforms are now concerned on keeping their walled gardens in regards to what kind of people are coming in.

    There will be new shiny platforms, that probably only early adopters will use. I wouldn’t care about those. Focus on social media platforms that are inclusive, that spread to the whole society, from which celebrities and Joe Plumbers can learn more about digital democracy, that we A-listers and digital-hypsters take for granted.

    Because it’s not really about the platform or service. It’s about the people. And how they could use this technology to be more productive. to be more social. To change the world.

  23. Armando

    Good points, the community does derive from the people that are in it. The change here is that Twitter has a new set of people (celebs and media) that didn’t exist before.

  24. I believe that there are many reasons for a person to delve into twitter… and now that celebrity hype has increased, & traffic from other sites has expanded into twitter, due to competitive behaviors from other social media outlets, numbers of users are exploding onto the twitter-scene, & allowing new opportunity for personal growth, as well as for expansion of business visibility into new spaces for careful consideration & to acquire further branding & marketing opportunity.

    I don’t believe the attention we’re getting from celebrity activities on the site will dramatically change anything, other than to allow new users access to information we bring… we now have the option to drive our personal brands into different segments of society, giving us opportunity to bolster our interests, to learn new aspects of different realms of our communities of interest, or potential interest, that we wouldn’t normally be driven to understand. & to communicate behavior ‘options’ & improve upon negative images from a bad press situation, in real-time, & to establish firm criteria for personal ‘credo’ & positive reinforcement for corporate responsibility, making individual users more valuable & employable, & companies more worthy.

    Looking forward to the tweetup this week, & hoping to finally get to meet you!

  25. Great points throughout your post, Jeremiah. This is definitely a pertinent topic that has been on my mind throughout the past week as we have seen Twitter’s exposure grow exponentially, but also with some opportunisitc practices now being undertaken by some celebs.

    My main thoughts throughout the past week of @aplusk, @oprah and @cnnbrk has been where is the conversation in this effort to reach 1 million followers? I will say that Ashton Kutcher genuinely does get social media and is actually engaging in two-way conversations with his fans and followers. But the other two? Those are just means for one-way brand and image enhancement (Granted, @cnnbrk is set up as a news source for CNN’s breaking news, but even then, CNN “bought” the handle, and uses it primarily as a means to push out news).

    While I agree with you and most everyone else on here that having certain celebrities join Twitter will continue to grow and enhance Twitter and its capacity to bring people together and have conversations they otherwise wouldn’t have. I like the idea that someone posed on here about Oprah’s fans and other celeb fans being able to interact with each other by following a celeb, but as others have pointed out, it’s doubtful many celebs will actually follow back and engage with their followers.

    And that, really, is what I believe the true value of Twitter (and really almost all social media platforms) is: the ability to actively engage and converse with a company or organization’s fans/customers/users, etc. If you aren’t doing that, if you aren’t having a conversation with your fans and users, rather than giving them a one-way speech/lecture, then what are you really doing? IMHO, that is just another tired, old marketing strategy.

    I’m a big believer in fan engagement (I come from working in college athletics), so to me, having two-way engaging conversations with your fans and customers is way more important than constantly trying to boost your brand and personal image.

    Let me know your thoughts. twitter.com/KeithTrivitt

  26. Great article. I particularly like the last three threads:
    1.Celebrities will monetize faster than Twitter themselvesYet expect
    – No doubt: in fact, if brands can make money (directly or indirectly, like Zappos, and local restaurants) Celebrities are brands. They will too.

    2. Twitter to monetize brands, media and celebrities
    – At a tweetup with @Jack last week in SF, he clearly mentioned that one of ways to make money is branding account, i.e. some sort of pro-account. Although I still consider search will be a much more significant revenue stream.

    3. More Hay and less Needles
    – Noise or signals: embedded system (cars, walky talky, tools etc.) and pure web/desktop tools will make channel filtering smarter. This is a golden area for 3rd party developers to make a real impact

    Great article.

  27. To be honest, none of this bothers me in the slightest. There’s a great leveler for every user of Twitter – YOU choose how you use it. You follow who interests you and they may do the same back.

    With regards the influx of celebrity, isn’t it just akin to people reading the likes of Hello or People magazine for all the celeb gossip? With Twitter, though, you actually have a chance (however small) to speak with the celebs that interest you.

    Fair play and here’s to Twitter continuing to be enjoyed the way everyone wants to use it in their own way.

  28. Danny, what doesn’t bother you could change. Remember, Twitter, and Twitter clients (like Twirl and Tweetdeck) could eventually succumb to branding, your opinion may change at that point.

    Thanks all for these great comments, I’m reading them all.

  29. I’m somewhat baffled at the outrage over celebs joining Twitter — and find it instructive (if not surprising) that hate for Oprah came on a lot stronger than for Ashton. Try a Twitter search for Oprah and moms and you get some interesting anger. “Is this place gonna be flooded with soccer moms now?” or “One billion soccer moms are now tweeting across the internet about diapers and Nicholas Sparks books.” Yikes.

    As you pointed out, with volume increasing the ability to filter for the hay rather than count the needles becomes essential. At Crimson Hexagon, we’re building some interesting Twitter monitors on everything from brands to products to Obama’s puppy. It’s fascinating to measure the range of emotions, and the virality of different topics as they spread.

  30. I covered this in detail yesterday http://www.thekmiecs.com/misc/twitter-has-gone-mainstream/ – long-story-short:

    “The next few months are going to be interesting. One thing is certain – if you are in the PR, marketing, interactive, web, or technology space you need to be on twitter, if only to understand what the hell everyone is talking about. I suggest you join now, it takes less than 2 minutes.”

    I don’t care who joins the party, but I do care when we start calling people like Oprah and Ashton experts simply because they have a large number of followers.

    If social media is supposed to be about a conversation and a dialog how can people like Oprah be considered serious players when they follow no-one and only broadcast?

    Your job just got a lot tougher. If the holy grail of product placement is getting your product on Oprah what will uninformed marketers want to do now that Oprah is on twitter? Hmm the intersection of 2 bright and shiny objects. Can they resist?

  31. Very Insightful but there is one problem. Twitter is struggling to maintain the system working with just over 2 Million users. It may never make it to 100 million users.

    Twitter was featured on Oprah (please keep me from puking) and Larry King and now the twitter API is so choked that it does not work well. The true value of twitter is brought to light with the community of developers who have created the applications that make Twitter really useful by leveraging the API. Tweetlater, Twitter Grader, Twitter Groups have all been paralyzed with the addition in traffic. I am not sure the 35 or so person company that Twitter is today can keep up with the hyper growth that hyper connectivity is bringing.

    The jury is out on a verdict if they can correct the performance problems but without the supporting API based applications working, Twitter is dead.

  32. Great Post. Twitter is changing dramatically in regard to the make up of it’s community. The original valley of geeks and early adopters is being flooded with a different type of user including celebrities and their followers. Ashton and Orpah have increased the flow over the dam. The early population is being diluted. This is not necessarily bad but definitely a profound change. We will need better tools to filter the noise and to access the database.

  33. Hi Jeremiah,

    I agree, it could (and probably will) change. Yet does that mean the interaction changes, or just the method of interaction? If the “branding” becomes too much, then I wouldn’t be surprised if some third-party app developer saw a niche for alternatives to the new approach, and offered users the “older model”.

    And again, users can always vote with their feet (or in this case, tweet) and simply opt out of using Twitter. I feel there’s too much being looked into as possible “negative” effects and not enough being looked into for the positive side.

  34. I simply do not care about the celebrities on Twitter.

    I follow a few of them, but out of curiosity.

    Considering that I want to reach mainstream media for PR purposes, they are more than welcome to join us. I am interested in getting acquainted with media producers, journalists who cover my areas of expertise, investors who can fund my projects, my peers, and other thought leaders.

    I think it was either @ev or @biz who said that Twitter is comprised of an incalculable number of smaller social networks.

    This reminds me of the IRC transformation of mid-90s. At first, there were geeks who needed to know how to use Unix to talk to each other. I was one of the first people who started a channel called #teen on Undernet IRC network. It was a small place for a bunch of teenage geeks. The conversations were interesting about our interests. We would discuss scripting, technology, science, the early days of Linux, and whatever else it was we discussed over the years.

    The Internet GUI revolution was just getting started, but soon Khaled Mardam-Bey unleashed his mIRC onto our unsuspecting world. Suddenly, you no longer needed to know Unix to talk to others. This was the first IRC inflection point. The second inflection point was when AOL broke down its walled garden and flooded us with traffic who were used to AOL chat rooms.

    We grew to the point where we had 100+ people in our channel concurrently most of the day. That story is relatively insignificant until we trace what happened to channel leadership.

    On an IRC channel, anyone can be granted operator privileges, which allow that person to moderate the community. The early operators were technically savvy individuals from the Unix days. As our channel grew, the conversations began to change. They were impossible to keep up with and were about things that were of no interest to the original founders.

    Incidentally, /mode #teen +b *!*@*.aol.com returned things to a relatively sane level rather easily. 🙂

    We resorted to using /cwall system, which broadcast messages only to those with operator status. This was a localized equivalent of /wallops (write all IRC network operators). We were in control of our community, but we gave higher priority to trusted individuals. Anyone could send a private message using /msg to an operator, but we mostly ignored those messages.

    As the general userbase began to change, so did the moderation parameters. When we tried to talk about things that interested us in the open channel, we were treated as weird outcasts. We began to promote mainstream users and within a few years ceded control as it was simply no longer interesting to us. I have a relatively small number on ICQ, for example.

    Here are the parallels between IRC and Twitter:

    #channel – #hashtag
    @operators – celebs who are twitizens with abnormally high number of followers and very few friends
    /msg – @replies
    /cwall – there is no equivalent yet, so they have to use DM for now
    IRC clients – Twitter clients

    I am surprised that Twitter clients do not yet tell us if the @reply is from someone whom I follow back yet. I would place more value on that rather than on a random @ reply from someone I don’t follow. Twhirl tells me of all my @ replies in green and of my DMs in gold. I’d want a different color to see @replies from my friends. This is not a big problem yet, but I’d imagine those with large networks of followers see that problem more acutely.

    To celebs, our problems, most of which can be solved with sufficient quantities of money are simply not interesting. They can use the system to DM with each other, much like we did with /cwall, and to tell the masses what they have to say, much like we did with /notice #teen We are about to ban AOL. Let’s have fun!

    Twitter already went through its first inflection point with Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki (if there are earlier people, well, I joined too late, which further illustrates my perception :). Its second inflection point is now underway.

    There are mainstream IRC channels today and there are lots of niche communities. They are co-existing peacefully and without any issues.

    There are a number of highly sophisticated clients with augmented capabilities for both IRC and Twitter, but many people use only basic tools.

    I don’t think Twitter will change fundamentally for those who don’t want it to change. 🙂

  35. Hi, I’m on Twitter because of the news, celebs,friends, and making new friends. I block some who follow me for purposes of using me or mine. I block some who flood my page when I open it. Twitter is great because I can go on and just read what everyone is doing and thinking.
    Its like a diner where everyone is talking about everything. Cheers?
    Please keep it simple. I’m sure Google or the likes, will buy it out soon. Sad but true. Keep up the good work.

  36. I personally think that twitter as a concept is a breakthrough but twitter as a “site” or even a tool will morph like most others ,eventually do. Many are thinking of new ways to “use” twitter http://www.viddler.com/explore/PerkettPR/videos/48/ which will further the idea of open, multi-sided platforms.

    I doubt twitter represents a community platform (or a social network) but it does test the boundaries of “frictionless social interaction” and begs to be further developed.

    One small advice: stop treating celebrities as “brands” or just ignore them altogether and their actions (or their PR agency “pretend” twits) will not annoy you [as much].


  37. In one respect, there’s no reason why one’s Twitter experience HAS to change. Your Twitter experience depends upon the people to whom you subscribe. If you don’t want to hear what Oprah and Demi have to say, don’t subscribe to them.

  38. I like what you said about Gen Y. Their influx might actually do something good. It may be chatty and superficial at first, but then they may take it beyond that and actually network and share. Let’s see what happens.

    I just want them to stop describing it as posting things about what you ate or what’s in your nose. If Twitter was only about that, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with it so much.

    Don’t break my Twitter heart Oprah!!

  39. I agree with Stuart Anderson. I joined (just) Twitter to learn about bleeding edge in marketing. Starting a new business, and am excited about social networking as one of many tools to use to build the business. I won’t be following celebrities on Twitter any more than I’m following them in any other media.

  40. I’m with Mathew Walker on the fact Twitter is anything but mainstream. How is a user base of 10 million on a social networking site considered mainstream?

    Kudos, too, on the new design. I like it!

  41. Hey, Jeremiah! It occurred to me last Thursday & Friday nights that maybe what we were seeing, in the “ratings war” on Twitter was really the clearly delineated installment in a series on the “dumbing down” of social media.

    I hear a lot about people who Tweet about where they’re eating dinner or what new, outrageous viral video I should know about. And now we all get to be blessed by the entree of Oprah into the SM mix. In truth, the people I’ve sought out and follow — and RT most often — are those who are enriching my own biz and personal life: book recommendations, clips from WSJ or Times-Picayune I may have missed, the latest new “it” technology release or concept.

    Wherever you guys go next, I wanna be there. As “entertaining” as it might be to follow @lancearmstrong or @APlusk, they’ve neither done as much to stretch me in new directions as @jowyang, @conniereece, @scobleizer, @dsearls, @kdpaine.

  42. Jeremiah,

    Yes, twitter will not be the same as it was especially when its moving more towards a mass media tool. But my worry is how will twitter manage, celebrity and brand accounts. I heard they are planning to create a pro version. But will this alone help?

    What about the data on twitter? Once google integrated its search here for real time stuff, will people actually open up the tweets if they know that there is always a possiblity of it coming up in the global search results? Twitter will then also be a key area for SEO vendors to watch out for.. So its a big mine of possibility out there. There are so many issues with this big bang, how are they as an organization tackling it?

  43. Great post.

    I join twitter isn’t for those celebrity, I wouldn’t follow any of them anyway, because they won’t follow you back. What is the point to follow them? However I love twitter, I use it a lot now.

    To be honest, none of this bothers me in the slightest. There™s a great leveler for every user of Twitter – I choose how I use it. I follow who interests me and they may do the same back. Be yourself!

    Susie Cheng

  44. Jeremiah, this is the best article I’ve read about twitter.
    Think you’ve really hit the nail on the head, when it comes to media interest and the inevitable twitter advertising campaigns, that will soon follow. I’m not a user myself, but after reading this…I want to join! Don’t know if that was your original intention?

    Wonder if we’ll be using keyword rich tweets in a few months time for better SEO.

  45. If everyone goes back a few months, I’m sure you will remember that Twitter was used to broadcast the landing of the commercial airliner on the Hudson river in NYC. The fact that we can get our information in real time from anywhere in the world is something that will continue to fire tweets from near and far. Tweeters will come and go as with anything in life, but Twitter as a platform I think is here to stay.

  46. Hey man, great post and just in line with my own thinking. Yes, Twitter has a lot of potential and it’s only going to grow and grow. I joined as a way to connect with like-minded individuals but primarily to promote my new business. Facebook seemed way too complicated and it also didn’t attract me as a networking tool; too many faux pas were being committed!

    In Twitter, I like reading the numerous and diverse subjects and opinions and dropping in my own two cents from time to time whether I’m following someone or not. And I love the 140 character limit: you can’t spam too much or be too inane with those limitations, though some do try!

    It’s a sort of live and let live ambiance and I like that.

    I could care less about the celebs and all of you really need to stop considering them as “elite”; they’re no better than you or I and I dare anybody to prove me wrong. My only interest in them is monetary – if they can drive a targeted audience to my blog – then all well and good; if not, who needs em.

    I will admit however that am following Oprah because I admire her work and the part of her website dealing with women’s issues and spirituality is in line with my blogging ideas.

    Keep up the good work.

  47. There’s an interesting equilibrium. An engineer friend of mine likes that more people are going to social networks like Twitter, so he can have more space and focus on IRC chat again! And so, for him, marginalized channels deemed obsolete by the mainstream will be the refuge.

    Meanwhile, we’re doing all we can to keep Twitter relevant in our own backyard. Maple Street, for now, is a Twitter account with a hyperlocal focus in Bellingham, WA. We produce editorial content and conversations on one account (http://twitter.com/MapleSt) and promotion on another (http://twitter.com/MapleStDeals).

    There’s a delicate balance between those that want to monetize it right away, and those that want to retain value. In the meantime, it looks like our fine burg will be ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics!

  48. Jeremiah,
    I enjoyed reading your post — the very recent explosion of Twitter attention has been interesting to follow. However, one of the reasons that I like Twitter so much is that it is a very mold-able social media. Each user in complete control of who they are following and who they choose to interact with. If one person chooses to use Twitter as their personal fan page, so be it. I think many current users will continue to ignore those people. I do also hope your prediction about current A-Listers jumping ship doesn’t come true — or if it does, perhaps they don’t deserve the title anyway. If they are here simply because it’s not mainstream, then they’re missing the point. Twitter is not for the exclusive or elite. It is what you make it. Let’s hope the service improves to cut down on Oprah-related fail whales 🙂 Thanks for your insight!

  49. I think twitter is going to continue to evolve in many ways, as a protocol, as a communication and broadcast tool. More noise was inevitable. I think it will become integral to many online services and we have only just scratched the surface to date.

    What is different this time is that mainstream media has bought in before the masses have arrived. It now has a brand which is competing for top spot and has the momentum to surpass the established few.

    Simplicity has won and the demand for tools to quickly discover and control interaction online is about to explode. Its early days but I like the idea of the twitter discovery engine which replaces some of my google usage.

    My suggested addition:

    A surge of new tools aimed at making twitter accessible to the masses and giving them the ability to see what is happening now – the biggest single threat to old media and a web product that has value. The existing mashup tools are too fragmented and require a web friendly user. Its time for someone to throw some cash at this.

  50. Elaine W Krause, yup it was a ratings war.

    Brenna Sowder
    I find it interesting that many say they can shape and mold their media they want to.

    I assert that Twitter/tweedeck/etc can work with brands to force you to see what they want you to see.

    They can do this in the experience, editorial, or through sponsored conversations.

  51. The “cool factor” of twitter is gone now. Too much hype and its annoying that people (celebs) are trying to play the number game. Even though the same people are still on twitter, Im not interested anymore. Before I used to visit twitter often for updates, but now that its mainstream I no longer feel like I’m using something cool.

  52. I suspect that there will be an equilibrium reached at some point where the ROI for celebrities and brands will be too low for them to bother and they will drop off. There will be some exceptions, but most will scale back or leave Twitter completely.

    The biggest challenges are the “hay vs needles” issue (and that will be solved by 3rd party apps if not by Twitter themselves) and the ability of the infrastructure to handle the load. If they get by the load issues then Twitter will be stronger going forward.

  53. The part about brands listening, then joining Twitter still mystifies me. I took a stroll through the top companies on the Fortune 500 and nearly all of them were dark.

    Additionally, look at all these Fortune 25 companies with Twitter accounts “owned” by someone else

    Exxon – http://twitter.com/exxon
    GE – http://twitter.com/ge
    GM – http://twitter.com/gm
    HP – http://twitter.com/hp
    Chase – http://twitter.com/chase
    CVS – http://twitter.com/cvs

    I think Twitter squatters, and the lawyers suing them, will stand to monetize more than celebrities will. You can bet companies will start getting pushy when the latest generation of Twitter adopters start saying things like:

    “I looked up gas prices on my @HP computer and found @Exxon had low prices. It’s right by my favorite @CVS store which has @GE lightbulbs”

    I’m very interested to see what Twitter will do in this forthcoming battle.

  54. Great post, most insightful.

    As a professional teaching small to mid sized business how to use simple social media, it concerns me not that celebrities have perverted the use of SM yet again, as they seemingly move from platform to platform.

    Although Ashton has the most followers, he has about the lowest listener rate on Twitter, and is prove positive that followers mean little, but listeners are everything.

    Really, they are doing us a favor. When Oprah joined Twitter in her clumsy yet evidently well-meaning fashion, she did not hurt us, she helped us. Oprah will bring possibly millions more users whom can then become potential “listeners” for the messages my clients are sending in true “pillow fight” fashion to the social media realm of their individual communities.

    Selected to speak on using Twitter for business at Ken McArthur’s recent Impact! event in Orlando, it became obvious to me that the better business minds at the event were keenly interested in how Twitter could help their business, and even more evident that Twitter was the “soft touch, soft sell, monitor” conduit of choice for them.

    Most of the businesses looking at Twitter for the first time had read Michael Stelzner’s white paper on social media in March, and had already recognized that so many other brands were moving to Twitter even if just for support and monitoring their brand reputation in the marketplace, and not proactively marketing into it.

    As a result of my talk in Orlando, I already see restaurants and mom and pop shops in the area with “Follow us on Twitter @mariospizza for a 15% discount” or the like up on their front windows, and appearing on cash register receipts.

    Twitter is not even approaching mainstream yet, but it is tipping. All the signs are there. Those positioned as obvious experts will become the consultants of choice for businesses that wish to harness the power of simple social media.

    Ron Davies

  55. Pingback: pligg.com
  56. this was a really quality article. In theory I™d like to write like this also “ taking time and real effort to make a interesting article¦ but what can I say¦ I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get it done

  57. This page is a walk-through for all the info you wanted about this and didn't know who to ask. Look here, you'll absolutely get your answers.

  58. Hi, I am from Australia and this page has explored my required matter, which like very much and also interested to share with my friends and colleagues.

  59. Would like to know that how this article can be a great value for the people like me, as found something really interesting extract out for real use.

  60. The presentation is so good as will try to make efforts on it to follow as well also do let know this to my well wishers . Thanks a lot for this informative writeup.

  61. The presentation is so good as will try to make efforts on it to follow as well also do let know this to my well wishers . Thanks a lot for this informative writeup.

  62. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that™s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.

  63. It’s true that many writeup have an outstanding explaination about the subject and this one is among them. i really appreciate the efforts made by the author

  64. It’s true that many writeup have an outstanding explaination about the subject and this one is among them. i really appreciate the efforts made by the author

Comments are closed.