Twitter is a Fad

Posted by: Burth Helm on April 28, 2009

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Like you really needed me to tell you this? Yes, you can follow me and several of my BusinessWeek colleagues on Twitter. And I’ll be the first to say that I like Twitter — it’s fun and useful finding out what friends, coworkers, and industry big-shots are reading and thinking. I also like hearing about how marketers are leveraging the technology, and it’s amusing to follow celebrities.

But Twitter is still a fad, and according to a study out today, it looks like it’s popularity may soon fade. Conducted by Nielsen Online, it focuses on “Twitter Quitters,” people who start a Twitter account but then fail to return the next month. Twitter, the study points out, has a very low retention rate, just 40%. Unless it figures out how to get more people to stick around, that means Twitter won’t ever achieve sizable reach online. “There simply aren’t enough new users to make up for defecting ones after a certain point,” writes David Martin, VP of Primary Research at Nielsen Online. With its current retention rate, Martin calculates the service could never reach more than 10% of the Internet population, even in a best-case scenario.

Martin also compares Twitter to Facebook and MySpace. Even in their early days, those sites had double the retention rate of Twitter when it started. Today, both hover around 70%.

If people can’t form a lasting Twitter habit, even when the site is at its trendiest, that’s the tell-tale sign of a fad.

Reader Comments

Terry Short

April 28, 2009 8:21 PM

I hope it sticks around long enough for most of us to figure out how to get the most out of it. New people are following everyday however I'm in Realestate with REMAX 360 and I'm still not reaching buyers or sellers. It would be nice if out of all the thousands of twitters we would develop a low cost way to reach certain groups like it was intended

jack

April 28, 2009 8:26 PM

Really, a fad? Because it won't be as big as myspace/facebook? Because as of today it's max potential is 10% of what... 250 million domestic internet users (give or take). That's 25 million users. Now, let's pretend it doesn't hit that, let's pretend it hits 15 million. That's fair right? You don't feel as though there's value in an active community of 15 million people? I'm sorry but there's got to be room between "fad" and the level of success Facebook has seen... right? It's not one or the other.

@kibbe

April 29, 2009 12:07 PM

What people are forgetting to factor into the Twitterverse is that the use of clients to tweet is pretty prevalent in the ecosystem. Do these numbers factor that into play as well?? This same discussion is happening over on Mashable (http://mashable.com/2009/04/28/twitter-quitters/). They say that only 30% of updates are actually from the web.

Fad or not, it's fascinating to watch people try to get situated in the ecosystem.

Philip Wiebe

April 29, 2009 2:19 PM

It's hard to imagine Twitter (in its present form) sticking around for the long haul, but what is imaginable is a union between Twitter and some of the other major players in the social-mediaverse. So while Twitter may not last forever, its impact has already been felt on the web giants and will continue.

Also important to remember is that personal blogs were a fad to, but just being a fad doesn't guarantee long-term death; it just means that the fad item will recede into a more predictable space where it legitimately creates utility (rather than remaining the domain of everyone and their dog).

Hal

April 29, 2009 6:03 PM

Call me crazy, but I honestly think its name hurts it the most. Saying someone "tweeted" or "tweets" just sounds stupid. Also, most people just don't do enough interesting things in the day to warrant constant updates, even celebrities. It's really only useful for businesses.

Steve

April 29, 2009 6:05 PM

It's not about whether or not Twitter will remain viable in the future or whether it (Twitter itself) is a fad. It's the fact that Twitter, as a technology, is here to stay. Face it, Twitter has had an effect on the way we interface and that's what will stick around for the long haul.

david a

April 29, 2009 6:06 PM

Twitter will probably add photos and videos to their service, it may end up looking exactly like facebook in the end, but with a better "chat" paradigm

Anonymous

April 29, 2009 6:08 PM

You don't know what you are talking about. I think you didn't find something interesting to write about.

Aaron

April 29, 2009 6:09 PM

I don't understand what is the difference between updating your status on Twitter and updating it on Facebook... Ever since Facebook opened to all, I haven't been on MySpace and I don't feel the need to update my status in more than one place. Twitter a fad; I would agree, but I've been wrong before.

Tom

April 29, 2009 6:10 PM

Our resort just tweeted a $79 friday night rate for what normally runs about $150-200. I wont say which, i'm not trying to plug it, but for those who like to follow really kick butt last minute deals, twitter is great for that. Creative leveraging on behalf of those tweeting interesting content (and not just "i woke up today" comments) may become what keeps retention down the road. .... ok fine, twitter.com/chateauelan hehe.

jake

April 29, 2009 6:10 PM

in other breaking news, the sky has been determined to be, in fact, blue.

Of course it's a "fad." It became one when Oprah and CNN couldn't stop talking about it. Once that craze dies down, it'll be the same people who were using it BEFORE it was a fad, still using it.

They really needed to do a study to figure this out?

roustabout

April 29, 2009 6:13 PM

@jack: 15M users when the service is free.

Are 15M users enough users to pay for servers, bandwidth, network ops staff, etc on the ad sales from 15M users?

Probably only if Twitter starts injecting ads into the feeds.

At which point it's down to 3M.

Okay, so instead Twitter Central says "this is a valuable service , but we can't put ads in the feeds. Banner ads on the site are not paying for it. So we need all of you to pay us 100/year for your service."

Whoops.

A service has to be pretty fecking popular online to justify its costs if for the enduser, it's going to do a good imitation of free, which is the price that people using the internet are expecting to pay.

I can't wait until Yahoo and Google finally get to a point where you have to for an

Oh, the humanity.

icemel

April 29, 2009 6:14 PM

I may become one of those quitters who never quite got it. But if it were peice of something else,or if I was spoon-fed/jump-started into power-user-dom...I might "get it."

dan

April 29, 2009 6:14 PM

I don't personally like twitter. I couldn't care less that Ashton Kutcher just took a dump.

PeterNYC

April 29, 2009 6:20 PM

Sure is a fad, but so are you Burt Helm as I won't be a return reader on your blog, your retention rate will be less than 40%. the only reason why i even read this is because it was on google news. everything the internet is basically a fad, you included.

Chris

April 29, 2009 6:21 PM

It is a fad. It's not so appealing when you realize it's limits and how irrelevant it really is. Really, other that celebrities, who has time to tweet their thoughts all day? Who would want to?

PJ

April 29, 2009 6:22 PM

Good comments so far. Me thinks Twitter or twitter-like technology will be adopted by the big boys such as FaceBook and addded as a feature.Or Twitter needs to expand their offerings to be more broadly useful. Would Google be around if it were nothing but a search engine - probably not. Likewise, Twitter won't make it by being simply a tweet site.....

tonyp

April 29, 2009 6:23 PM

If Twitter were so 'sticky' you all would be twittering your comments. But you're not, you're blogging it. Not a twitter quitter, because i never started. :-)

Phil Thrift

April 29, 2009 6:25 PM

Tweeting is a fad?

That lame proposition is one for the birds.

s

April 29, 2009 6:25 PM

nothing more then Nielsen Online hanging on the coat tails to fame from twitter.. dont be fooled thier data is flawed

Eric

April 29, 2009 6:26 PM

The Twitter Business Plan:

1) Throw together a Web 2.0 "application"
2) Build up hype
3) ??? (Oprah?)
4) Google buyout
5) Profit

HereAndNow

April 29, 2009 6:29 PM

As smartphones become the norm, Twitter will be that much more convenient to access and use.

L L

April 29, 2009 6:31 PM

I'm one of the defectors. Sorry to rain on your parade, but Twitter is narcissism meets voyeurism. Keeping the world updated with your status and your musings? Two words, "Who cares?"

Sam

April 29, 2009 6:35 PM

One more medium to pore over the excruciating minutiae of some people's lives.

Grumpy Kiwi

April 29, 2009 6:38 PM

I signed up for 2 days. Irritating to say the least. I don' t give a rat's arse what Lance Armstrong had for breakfast. I find it to be very narcissistic (spelling?) and self absorbed. As with all of these similar sites such as Facebook, My Space.

People need to work out that no-one really cares what they are doing or what they think.

John Boe

April 29, 2009 7:19 PM

The problem is that Twitter is directed toward those with ADD (ie, most of today's youth) and the problem therefore, is exactly that; those with attention deficit order are already off looking for the next shiny object to focus on, however briefly! So ultimately, Twitter will fade from view.

Rob

April 29, 2009 7:47 PM

expecting too much out of a new technology which is just barely scratching its surface is a fad. lets leave it up to the visionaries to figure this out before we label it as as fad.

Betty

April 29, 2009 8:16 PM

I joined and left after about 10 minutes. Why would I want to spend all day talking about the minute details of my life in cryptic language? Who would want to read it? Most of the tweets I encountered in browsing other peoples twitter pages were incomprehensible at best.

Ian

April 29, 2009 8:16 PM

It doesnt take a rocket scientist to discern that Twitter is a fad. Thought statistical evidence is always nice to have I doubt it will sway or dissuade the die hard fanatics of Twitter.

Twitter has tried for months and maybe even years to explain why exactly people should switch to the service and what concrete benefits it provides over other forms of information sharing like IM, blogs, texting, online forums etc. It is has demonstrably failed to provide any such concrete benefit in terms of "productive" information. It has however bombarded people with the inane and the banal with remarkable speed. And maybe that is what will make some people cling on to it.

However, the vast majority of the people will soon migrate away from this ridiculous fad, making way for the next big fad to catch their attention and help another start-up .com service make a few millions along the way providing some other "service" we dont know that we dont need.

Ed

April 29, 2009 8:52 PM

Twitter is merely CB Radio without (for the most part) the bad language. Tweet Tweet, Good Buddy!

Dean

April 29, 2009 9:06 PM

twitter is also a vector for propaganda that preys on the attention-deficit generation.

I've been startled at how many people laud twitter's minimalist "news crawl" version of information delivery.

They are wasting their valuable and limited attention reading dumbed-down versions of news. It's "news" that makes a snippet from "The National Enquirer" look like an article in "The New Yorker".

And it makes it easy for them to cede their ability to gather information to those that are more than happy to tell them how to think.

_Learning_ takes work, not cute new technologies. Get ahead, read.

I knew twitter was a fad too

April 29, 2009 9:28 PM

Wasn't the writing on the walls though? From a consumer standpoint that tries it out, they will compare it to Myspace and Facebook that obviously have a Twitter like feature, but also give you the convenience of looking at photos, listening to music that your friends are listening to, take a trip down memory lane, check out what's happening with an artist that you like. Twitter is a step down from what Facebook(FB) and Myspace(MS) started out with. Underlying all of that is the desire to have more for less, as an American consumer, you look for the fanciest gizmo with the most features, and if it's free, even better. Twitter, would be a step down from what you get, and do, in FB/MS. And as a final point, you get the sense that it requires you to constantly be updating it, the psychology of it doesn't seem worthwhile. In other words, I'm either too lazy to update it all the time or I'm too busy to remember to do something as useless as posting what I am doing. It was reported a while ago on CNN and one other news network program that Twitter could be used for getting micro-trends and other consumer data. That kind of information is off-putting as an American, it feels like an invasion of privacy for someone to use my life information to sell me products or other things. It's bad enough it already occurs, but to put it out there for consumers to know adds another level of disinterest for something like twitter. I've been watching the Twitter trend for a while now, when it was on the verge of collapsing, and how it was infused with a huge amount of publicity by CNN and random shout-outs by adult-oriented programs, adult as in not youth friendly. And it seemed like Twitter paid for the publicity because it seemed out of place, the people talking about Twitter didn't really know what it was, they just through out the name. And right now, it's obvious that it's peak is around here, but it's going to go away rather quickly.

Fabien Tiburce

April 29, 2009 9:44 PM

I am an unlikely fan of Twitter, the rapidly growing “micro-blogging” platform (I won’t call it a site, read on…). For starters, I don’t particularly enjoy gossip. I have no interest in celebrities and I think Smalltalk is a computer language. So like many, I hesitated to join Twitter. I was afraid it would amount to pointless chatter, noise. That was then. This is now: in a matter of weeks, Twitter has not only become useful to me, it has become downright essential. Here are 10 Twitter tips I hope professionals find useful.

1. Twitter is a bit like eavesdropping. The conversation is as good as the participants. Follow interesting people, creative thinkers, prominent speakers and chances are you are going to be enlighted by a constant flow of insightful tweets. Follow “noise” and the pearls of wisdom will be few and far between.

2. Follow your friends and peers, sure. But mostly, seek out people you wouldn’t normally get to converse with. Unlike LinkedIn, you can virtually follow anyone. This is unique. Following someone on Twitter is a bit like being allowed in his or her inner, albeit public, circle. Twitter has given me new perspectives from people I may not otherwise meet, listen to or learn from on a day to day basis.

3. Everything you say is public. The search engine in Twitter is very good and real time. The appearance of “inner circle” privacy is just that, an appearance. Be candid (most people are) but tweet accordingly.

4. Being a fairly public and open platform, Twitter is very transparent. You can search Twitter (company name, person, idea) using #hashtags. This gives you a pretty good idea of how the company or idea is being perceived. Real time, unfiltered knowledge. Brilliant for marketers, researchers and just about anyone involved in creating and selling a product or service.

5. Tele-presence. There is a great conference in San Francisco you wish to attend but can’t due to prior commitments. No worries. Lookup the hashtag and “listen” for tweets on the conference. Key points and take-aways will probably make it on Twitter before they show up anywhere else. Not quite like being there, but close.

6. Twitter is a platform, more than a site. The web interface is one of many ways to get on Twitter. I installed a desktop client called TweetDeck and a BlackBerry client called TwitterBerry. There are countless other clients which is further driving its adoption. And there lies a valuable take-away on success 2.0: play nice with the community and the community will adopt you and make you successful.

7. Twitter is not just about people, it’s about news. I essentially stopped using RSS and now use Twitter to read updates from some favourite technical news sites such as Slashdot. There again, Twitter is a platform more than an application. Its potential is enormous.

8. Twitter can get your questions answered. Sure LinkedIn has Q&A’s but the answers take days or weeks to come. Answers on LinkedIn tend to be longer and well thought-out (some anyways) but they still take time. Chances are, unless you are writing a research paper, you need answers at the speed of business. The answers you will get on Twitter are more like insights, facets to the complete answer. Quick, opinionated, maybe a follow up link or two. From there you can make your own opinion.

9. Twitter restricts you to 140 characters. What good can you say in 140 characters? A lot! Twitter forces you be concise, synthetic, to the point. As a writer, it’s a good exercise in concision. As a reader, it’s a great time saver that stimulates the mind.

10. Remember Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus in the Matrix “No one can tell you what The Matrix is, you simply have to experience it for yourself.”? Well so is Twitter. Because of its openness, its choice of interface and who you follow, Twitter is what you want it to be. Try it and you just might like it.

Copied here from my blog betterdot.wordpress.com

Rod Lim

April 29, 2009 9:49 PM

It is not unusual to see a big initial uptake of a popular new application like Twitter. There will be a period of experimentation as individuals try to determine if it is of any usefulness to them. Eventually, many will abandon it, but a core group will remain loyal to it.

Same thing happened with Second Life. Twitter will not likely disappear completely but its usage will flatten out and stabilize at some point.

lamer

April 29, 2009 10:10 PM

i am sick of this twitter BS. you know its lame if Oprah is advertising its....this lame media blitz is not going to work. what of loser is going to advertise every little thing they do? do you think celebrities twitter?.. they some lame interm do it for them. while a bunch of losers follow. cant you do all of this and more in facebook????

VM

April 29, 2009 10:21 PM

A sure sign of twitter being a fad is how only those who want to use it to sell their services or products are concerned about it's limited retention. The truth is if someone want to find a product or service the little thing called a search bar is on top of every browser.

And lets get real about this very few people care about who ate a bologna sandwich for lunch, hearing about a celebrity bragging, or dealing with an annoying sales person.

I for the life of me can't believe so many people have so little self significance in life that they feel the need to follow someone else's life.

Mark my words twitter is a fad and will be mocked as aol and cb radios in the not so distant future.

Jsk

April 29, 2009 10:21 PM

It is indeed a fad. Why would you want to go thru the hustle of setting up and maintaining a twitter account.....when you can can do the same mini-blogging in 140 words or less on your facebook status????? Yet one can get way more out of FB than twitter in a single session.

Grateful Ed

April 29, 2009 10:53 PM

A success of 15 million people doing what? The rise of social media is a result of too much free time, like cell phones in school, lots of fun but very little productivity, in fact detrimental to actual attention to the daily routine. The few things I experienced with twitter were nothing but gab, gossip or rumor fests or the sharing of out and out myths and misinformation as factual information, there are much better and more reliable ways to access information. It sure does appeal to those who feel the need to be joined at the hip with innumerable others but it is in actuality a waste of time. All I see in requests from people who say they would really use it is a desire for a sales medium and it is not supposed to be that. It may retain a scant following but of no import to anything serious as time goes on. Go Oprah…

Jun Jonz

April 29, 2009 11:06 PM

Twitter may seem like a fad but if you add it up it is a way to tap into the minds of people around the world and that is amazing. If you use summize you can see people who posted information that may be of critical need to you.

This is a great business tool, especially if you want to have a jump on the competition.

For example if I'm looking for someone that is an expert in a field, I can search summize for a term which may lead to a connection with people whom I would would have no other means to connect with(which I have done). Or lets say you read a book or need help with research... do you get the picture yet?

I have to give it to twitter it seems simple but the concept is genius.

Especially if you are searching for information on a particular topic of interest. For people who want to socialize it may be a fad, but for people who are interested in enlightening themselves and gathering realtime (with summize or also known as twitter search) twitter is an universe of knowledge that you can choose to digest and utilize however you like. It's like connecting mentally.

@EvilPRGuy

April 29, 2009 11:25 PM

There's an enormous jump between a low retention rate and something being a fad. Because of the way web services currently work, you need to make an account to see if it works for you, so I think people exploring it, then deciding it isn't useful for their online life, accounts for that large gap in users abandoning after a month.

I imagine if there were accurate metrics, that rate would be similar or higher for most web based services.

Myspace and Facebook have such high retention rates because when you sign up, every contact preference is set to high, so you get an email every time an online acquaintance breathes. That will boost your numbers.

Frank Jania

April 30, 2009 12:03 AM

This article is a great example of content-free journalism. There isn't any depth, so it leaves you without a sense of having actually gotten anything from reading it.

What exactly do you mean by fad? It's clearly got a negative connotation, but how so? Twitter is new and novel and it's getting a lot of play in the media, so sure ... it's bound to have a great deal of hype now. Like anything else the hype will die down. If we concede the point and say twitter is a fad, then where does that leave us? How are we better off for knowing?

The thing that frustrates me most about this article (and the report) is that it seems to imply that there is an expectation for twitter's reach, that that expectation won't be met, and that something about that is inherently failure.

If twitter "only" stabilizes at 10% of the internet population, has it failed? If it doesn't continue it's "meteoric rise", has it failed?

It seems short sighted (and not to mention arrogant) to suggest that there is an absolute percentage or growth rate that would indicate that twitter is a success, simply because you can measure it easily.

There have been several twitter competitors that have shuttered their doors, and twitter is still around. I think that should be included in the measure of success. How about the potential residual effects?

Publishing short messages for, potentially, the whole world to see is a new concept - if the hype around twitter inspires new services that build on top of that model, or bake components into it, is that success?

I think twitter could also count among it's harder to measure successes the popularization of a form of 'declarative living' that allows people (especially geographically dispersed people) a channel for serendipitous interaction that was previously unavailable. This can manifest itself in the form of distant co-workers or friends feeling closer despite the distance, or in the form a voyeuristic look in to the mundane aspects of the lives of celebrities.

Maybe twitter.com won't exist forever... But, if any of the concepts that it's advancing get carried forward in other services, I think it would be hard to qualify twitter as failure.

Chitrangada

April 30, 2009 12:45 AM

I do not know about the statistics - the retention rate being an indicator. But, yes it is def helpful for people like us to connect and keep yourself updated in the specialized area of your choice. Whether it is here to stay we will know in a short while. But, till then as my group grows I am not complaining - http://chitrangada09.wordpress.com/

Dirk Singer

April 30, 2009 1:47 AM

The Nielsen figures might be suspect, as Ian Paul of PC Pro wrote (http://bit.ly/12CaXw), as the company doesn't specify whether it measured only Twitter web visits as opposed to people who use 3rd party apps.

I simply wonder whether this is the story some people have been waiting to hear, which is why I am hearing the Twitter = Second Life line more and more.

And that is simply not a good parallel as I wrote in a post yesterday: http://bit.ly/r71dc

Brian Kelley

April 30, 2009 2:02 AM

For pre-celebrity push users the tool is a good one. It helps me to alert others about things like my songwriting podcast (http://cli.gs/RM) in whatever form they choose to receive the info

Jerry Erickson

April 30, 2009 3:20 AM

McGraw-Hill have a lot of vested interest in Rupert Murdoch.

tom

April 30, 2009 4:28 AM

Of course, it's still massively more popular than Business Week will ever be.

Dirk Gannon

April 30, 2009 7:09 AM

It's a relief to me to see that even people shallow enough to do things because Oprah does. still have enough depth to quickly realize how completely devoid of value Twitter is.

Alexander Siu

April 30, 2009 7:19 AM

What statistics is the study based on? If it is only factoring in visits to Twitter's home page via a web browser, it fails to take into account the people who sign up once and continue to tweet via desktop clients or on their phones. To enjoy Facebook's applications, on the other hand, a user has to actually log on with a web browser.

Tim Kline

April 30, 2009 7:32 AM

Well said Phillip. As more people began to see the incredible power of the big pond that is the internet.

Being able to make a ripple in it will become more fascinating

John

April 30, 2009 7:33 AM

I agree with Jack.I'm tired of these same old stories about Twitter being a fad, and like Jack says..."I'm sorry but there's got to be room between "fad" and the level of success Facebook has seen... right? It's not one or the other" Its a great tool and millions will continue to use this service.Im tired of this all or nothing mentality and tired of writers not having the ability to find real stories.

Thandelike

April 30, 2009 7:44 AM

Twitter may not be of use to everyone and -- since it truly opens up for you once you learn how you can best use it for your goals -- it may not be for people who aren't inclined to put in the effort, or for those who have no goals.

It's changed my life positively in many ways and I'm no faddish fool. I look forward to it continuing in this form or another as Philip mentioned.

@Thandelike

Michael

April 30, 2009 7:47 AM

Personally, I got on the Twitter site one day, signed up, looked around about 10 minutes, then thought, "This is stupid." I've never been back since.

williambanzai7

April 30, 2009 8:05 AM

Maybe they should start by changing their inane name? Tweet tweet tweet.

I taught I thaw a duddy app!

Allen V

April 30, 2009 8:14 AM

This is pure link bait, plain and simple. He makes a pointless conjecture with a flashy title that name drops something currently popular and gets more people to click through, only to get dissapointed.

chris

April 30, 2009 8:16 AM

I have only found twitter useful for re-posting to my blog. Other than that I don't really post.

I only keep track of my subscriptions to blogs too.

http://blogs.itworldcanada.com/idol/2009/04/30/twitter-quitters/

Carolyn E. Cooper

April 30, 2009 8:36 AM

This article still reflects the broadcast mindset as opposed to the targeted mindset. Twitter is for reaching a targeted audience and chances are good that audience is either under 35 or technologically sophisticated. Not everyone texts, either, but it doesn't mean that text communication is a "fad." You want to use the right tool for the job.

Working in a part of the country that is largely retirees and/or blue-collar, I get an look at different market segment. The retirees are still struggling with web so that I still have to explain that browser address box and the Google search box are not the same thing (yes, these are the people who Google the URL and then click on the link in the Google search results). Yes, they tried Twitter and didn't "get it". They get anything that let's them share pictures like Facebook and Flickr.

Jim

April 30, 2009 9:23 AM

There are only a finite number of hours and minutes in a day and in a life. Twitter isn't on my radar nor a lot of tech things. Tied to the cell phone isn't the way I want to live. Who are you answering in your life? Are they worth it?

Jay

April 30, 2009 9:48 AM

This is why I don't read Business Week.

Josh

April 30, 2009 11:23 AM

Twitter will be bought up by Google or Microsoft in the up coming months. It will be a complete waste of money, as Twitter is still not monetizeable.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

April 30, 2009 11:33 AM

Twitter: 140 characters in search of a plot.

D. Pauw

April 30, 2009 11:48 AM

RE: Jun Jonz

You act as if this sort of "tapping" is new to the internet. Look back at all the hype and buzz words that were thrown around during the dotcom bubble. They're almost the exact same thing. The only difference is instead of horribly designed Myspace pages we get single, banal sentences.

Twitter suffers from too steep a curve when it comes to retention. Yes, you can read what famous people are doing but you can do that in blogs or facebook or online forums. The thing that separates Twitter from the others is the community and the interaction with said community. Interacting with the Twitter community at large and not just a core group of friends (if you have any real life friends on Twitter) is astonishingly difficult.

If you're a regular person you have to Tweet a sizable chunk of superficial nonsense before anyone will even bother to follow you. I've seen time spans as much as a year to get any sizable following that would allow you to interact with the community to any significant degree.

Almost every other form of communication on the internet has a faster curve than that. Twitter requires too much investment for little to no return.

Trevor

April 30, 2009 12:00 PM

What about the graveyard of blogs that were started and not maintained? Is blogging a fad too?

socialtis

May 1, 2009 11:23 PM

Okay, I like the premise that you need to keep the adopters from defecting, but sometimes I think they aren't actually defecting. Stay with me on this. Sometimes people don't understand how it should work so they go dormant until someone cracks the code on exactly how to make it work. Then, the new technology is not really risky, is it? Although not really old, I remember seasoned marketing folks in 93-94 that mention that the "web was interesting, but we need to get back to creating "real" sales tools" ... and this is so not an embelished statement. Twitter and Social Networks will prevail. However, companies will have a great pains (and perhaps court cases) adopting ... @socialtis

something to consider.

shaun

June 17, 2009 11:46 PM

Its funny to go back and read short-sighted posts like this, considering whats happened with Twitter since. How does your foot taste?

Burt Helm

June 18, 2009 10:44 AM

@shaun I only wrote the post a month and a half ago, and I still think it's a fad, at least in its current form. Let's talk a year from now.

Jon

July 15, 2009 8:38 PM

Additional compilation of research on whether Twitter is a fad can be found here:

http://www.jon-feldman.com/post/117192440/is-twitter-a-fad

Haywood Jablome

July 16, 2009 9:54 AM

Twetards.

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About

News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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