Tuesday 30 June 2009

Is Twitter a dead duck?

(Or "Oh No! Not another blog about Twitter!")

Do you tweet? Compared to the usage in other parts of the social web, not a lot of people do. In fact a lot of the people who have signed up with the so-called "mini-blogging" service don't tweet any more - if they ever did - and are now dormant accounts. Or so we are told.

They have discovered something fundamental: it is boring - despite all the efforts of the Silicon Valley gurus and marketeers to talk it up with their puppy-like enthusiasm and hyperbole. And Twitter is time-consuming. Not as hard and as time-consuming as full-blown blogging, but time-consuming nevertheless. And as everybody should know, the two most important words in the social web are 'time' and 'content'. Just like real life really.

Twitter is boring for a lot of people because they quickly discover that they haven't really got anything interesting to tweet about, and once they have got over the initial titilation generated by the pornographic and voyeuristic sensations which can come very close to stalking, then interest quickly evaporates. Rather like more traditional pornograpic material: at first it titilates, but in the final analysis it is hollow and fails to deliver.

And Twitter is boring because there just isn't time. Time to sleep; time to eat; time to work; time to watch that TV prog taped three weeks ago; time to answer emails; time to walk the dog; time to read those interesting blogs; time to read the news - from whatever source. Time to read a book, for goodness sake.

In fact I believe Twitter is maturing. The honeymoon period is over. You can tell this by the amount of pond life which is now attempting to make a dodgy buck. Just like penis-extension or you-must-tell-me-your-bank-details-because-I'm-Nigerian emails. Or sexycanella751 trying to contact you on Skype. Believe me, if she, and many others of that ilk, hasn't tried to follow you on Twitter yet, she will do.

What will a mature Twitter look like? Well, first off, people will stop blogging about it(!) and it won't be mentioned every two lines in the smarter newspapers. In the honeymoon period, half the tweets generated seemed to have been incestuous - tweets about Twitter: Twitter etiquette; Twitter adeptitude; 10 reasons to use Twitter; 10 reasons not to use Twitter; 20 best tweeters; 30 best apps to improve your tweeting; top 40 celebs on Twitter; 50 ways to leave your lover. Hopefully this will stop too. And hopefully people will stop being obsessed with their number of followers and followed. (These sheep really do need to get a life - or perhaps answer that penis-extension email.)

And we promise we won't blog about Twitter again, either! (Er - not unless it's an emergency...)

A mature Twitter will exist like a glorified news feed. People who get the best out of being a Twitter consumer already follow the news feeds they might have previously fed into their home/start pages. These Twitter users might never tweet themselves - they simply use it as an alternative news and updates source. Nothing wrong with that.

A mature Twitter will exist like a glorified news feed. People who get the best out of being a Twitter broadcaster already tweet what amounts to a news feed about their chosen subject. This could be about the political situation in a country undergoing serious upheavals, through snow and skiing reports from a particular resort, to the contents in the latest issue of a magazine or a link to the latest online reviews of wizzo new gadgets. In other words, tweets with genuine, defined content. Amateur, or business, it doesn't matter.

A mature Twitter will be used, as it is already, by business to engage with customers as an alternative to the conventional helpdesk, as well as directing followers to the latest offerings in their shop/magazine/blog.

A mature Twitter will not have the (now) mythical tweet "Got up this morning; went to the toilet". But the pond life will still be sniffing around trying to feed on your curiosity and greed. That just comes with the territory. Ask email.

So is Twitter a dead duck? No. It is evolving. It is beginning to shed the hype and the wide-eyed youthful inanity and voyeurism. It is getting middle-aged. Boring. Once upon a time people sent their friends emails - just because they could. Now email is boring. But it works. It does what it says on the tin. Email won't disappear. Nor will Twitter.

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