I am not an “expert on all things web 2.0.” Nor am I a “social media expert.” Heck, I’m not even a “social media enthusiast.” I’m just a regular person who finds value in various things on the internet. One of them is Twitter. I fear it could fail because of certain things that bug me about the Twitter phenomenon. When I say they might fail I mean that users may stop using it, not because it doesn’t have a business model (although, that’s probably a problem as well).
There’s always going to be someone who will try to duplicate what Twitter did in a new way. Plurk tried, and last I checked they had quite a community but I don’t know anyone who actually uses it (at least not anymore). Even if something better comes along, that doesn’t mean users are going to jump ship. They’ve already invested time in Twitter. It will be hard to leave. How else do you explain how MySpace is still popular? I’m betting it’s because that’s where the cool kids were, then it became popular and that’s where people have set up homes. Twitter is the same way. That could change though. If you use Twitter you might have noticed that as each month passes the amount of spam followers seems to increase. Some days these spam bots follow you as soon as you post an update. Twitter needs to do something about this problem if they want to continue to grow. MySpace used to have the same problem. It has been several months since I deleted my MySpace profile so I don’t know if the problem is still as rampant as it once was. The point is, it may eventually drive users away, or make the move easier when something bigger and better does come along.
Another problem I have with Twitter is now that it’s popular it’s being inundated with another type of spam. The new spam are not pre-programmed robots, though one could argue differently when you look at their updates. I’m talking about the so-called social media experts, mavens, and enthusiasts. These are the people who do nothing but post links to their site/product/service and retweet other more famous people. They bring almost no value to Twitter and actually, in my opinion, lower people’s opinions about social media and what it can and should be. Social Media Experts are to today as SEO Experts were to a few years ago. Yeah, there might be a few people who honestly “get” it and can actually help you, but most are trying to peddle their goods and services that you don’t need. Just because you’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter doesn’t mean you’re an expert. It means you use the internet. In fact, I’m betting there are 14 year olds that know more about social media than you. I’ve actually had many of these human spammers follow me then when I don’t follow them after a day or so they quit following me. 7 times out of 10 they are back following me the next day. Is that because my updates are so great? Not at all. It’s because they follow anyone and everyone to try to pump themselves up more.
Along with the so-called experts, you have real companies on Twitter. Some of the accounts are good. There are some that try to help customers out and provide valuable information. There are also some that will jump all over you because they are watching if anyone says something bad about their company or product. Then you have something else entirely. I think everyone remembers the Skittles mistake. Skittles decided to make Skittles.com pull in anything anyone was saying about Skittles from Twitter and display it. Of course obscenities were rampant once it launched. It was funny for a few minutes, then it got old. It also made Skittles abandon Twitter for their homepage to Youtube. I bet they will actually think before they implement something like that in the future.
The last thing that bugs me and might not cause Twitter to fail, but it’s not helping. These are users that use Twitter as a lifestream. Now, it is your account and I can’t tell you how to use it because Twitter is what you make of it, but do you really need to use it as a lifestream? Twitter wasn’t meant to be a lifestream. That’s what Friendfeed and other applications are for. I do not need to know where you are every 5 minutes, so stop posting your brightkite status. I also don’t need to know every time you’re listening to a new song, so please don’t update me with your blip.fm status. It’s cool if you want to post these things every once in a while, such as when you find a great new song or if you need other Twitter users to know where you are for a meetup or if you have a new blog post, but when that’s all your updates are then chances are you won’t have many followers for long.
To leave on a more positive note I’ll tell you one thing that I love since Twitter hit the mainstream. Celebrities. I’m not talking about Britney Spears or Barack Obama and I’m not talking about celebrity gossip. I’m talking about the celebrities that are actually fun to follow on Twitter. People like Michael Ian Black, Rob Corddry, Jimmy Fallon, ?uestlove (of The Roots), Demitri Martin, etc. are great because their real life personalities transform so well onto Twitter. Even Shaq has some of the funniest updates on Twitter.