the grass is greener on the internet

How far will Twitter go?
April 15, 2009, 8:49 pm
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With enough media mentions to make Apple jealous, social networking’s belle of the ball Twitter has been recruiting new users left and right who want to know, what makes Twitter so different?

That same question is still being asked by existing users in the hope that it’ll help them figure out what the next big thing in social networking will be.

But social networking ain’t just social networking. There’s different types of interaction…

Facebook, Messenger programs – they’re like having a party with your friends in a pub. Though you get a few friends of friends and the occasional random seeking attention, by and large you can keep things to just the people you know.

LinkedIn, chat rooms, message boards – they’re like a networking event. A few familiar faces but mostly you’re there to meet people who are interested in the same things as you.

But Twitter…Twitter is the equivalent of busking. There’s a lot of strangers going past; some will stop, others will just walk on by.

The thing is, you keep talking no matter how many people are listening. Except Twitter has given you the ability to listen to a lot of buskers at the same time. Everyone becomes a busker. There’s a race to get the most people watching. But what really matters at the end of the day is how many you’ve influenced enough to give you mone– I mean, attention.

[Attention, money; they become comparable in this case because everyone’s got limited amounts, some are more willing or able to give them than others.]

Can we use this to predict what the next form of socialising will be? No. If it were that logical, it would probably be out there by now – and if I had the answer I wouldn’t be telling you. 😛

But it DOES tell us a few things about how long Twitter will last.

You stay at a party longer because the people you know are there. You stay at a networking event because you’ve met interesting people or want to meet more. But a busker will stay for the money, the adoring eyes and the opportunity to make friends with a couple of people after the show.

For those not following the metaphor – retention for Twitter will most likely only require keeping a tipping point in the number of total users as opposed to having a tipping point within every user interest group or clique. That means, once users have an established crowd they’re likely to stay. Conversely, it also means there’s less pressure for them to stay if they have a smaller crowd because they’re not losing contact with friends.

On a side note, the beginnings of relationships that are built on Twitter need to go into another medium before they start to mean anything. Maybe that’s something for the next social networking site to consider…


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