Seven Years Later, Has Twitter Peaked?

Is Twitter dying?Seven years ago today, Twitter was born. For many of us in PR, this would be a life-changing occurrence.

When Twitter first hit the scene, most of us thought it was trivial, myself included. Early adopters quickly learned the possibilities of Twitter. So what started as a place to share thoughts and make friends evolved into a platform to advance causes, social statuses, and any other agenda you have.

So do we have a seven-year itch? Is Twitter dying?

While I’m sure there are user statistics out there and someone knows the definitive answer, I’d like to share some anecdotal evidence of a shift in the Twitter user experience that may hint to a crescendo that has already taken place.

I was unfollowed by an influencer on Twitter today. Normally this is no big deal. However, this unfollow is part of a trend that I’m noticing with my Twitter friends.

Everybody knows that person that started out on Twitter years ago with the rest of us. They built their following over time, organically, engaging with their community, growing their clout. Fast forward to 2013 where perceived online clout is easier to get than ever before. It’s no longer enough to follow and be followed, and I can hardly argue with that.

As Chuck Tanowitz pointed out a few weeks ago, listening and search on Twitter is more important than direct follows. Smart influencers see that and are taking advantage of this to increase their perceived online clout – furthering their personal brand.

Where an influencer may have once followed thousands, or perhaps even tens of thousands, with a following to match; they’re now purging their friend count down to less than a thousand. I’ve even seen cases where they’ve gone down to zero and slowly built back up to a couple hundred.

So why should you care?

Perceived clout can help drive real clout

We’re all guilty of it. We discover a new person on Twitter that interests us. Naturally part of our judgment whether to follow that person rests on their follower:friend ratio. It’s a context clue, almost like what we use when we judge a person at a social event – Is this person friendly? Who else in the room are they connected with? What are they wearing?

More people will seek a higher Twitter follower:friend ratio because they will be perceived as having a higher influence. This is important for journalists and others seeking online authority.

Unfollowed but not forgotten

I get unfollows all the time. I don’t take them personally. It’s rare that someone I would consider an influencer unfollows me so when it happens I ask for feedback. Was it all of my curse words? Did I offend? Was I boring?

“I’m still listening” is the response I often get. In order for that influencer to increase their perceived, and ultimately, real clout, they unfollow a bulk of their Twitter friends. They do this to increase their follower:friend ratio. They are still listening.

We are now in lists and in columns on a dashboard of some influencers. You are no longer followed but not forgotten. This makes what you say and how you say it more important than ever before. Search is king in the Twitter of 2013.

So is Twitter dying? In my humble opinion, at least here in the U.S, yes Twitter has peaked. In people’s quest for clout, they’ve taken the fun out of using Twitter. It’s now a productivity tool. Happy anniversary Twitter. Thanks for all the fun times. It was nice knowing you.

Mower

About Mower Boston

Boston's Mower office is a full-service technology marketing, PR and branding agency. Our B2B stories illustrate projects and campaigns in a variety of markets and media that range from local impact in Boston and New England to global proportions.

Comments

  1. So Ruth, If Twitter HAS peaked, what would replace it? App.net now that it’s free? I’d love your thoughts…

    • Ruth Bazinet says:

      Great question. I think it’s too early to tell what will replace Twitter. As it stands now, I don’t think it’s App.net. Twitter is known as being the town hall and with a subscription cost to App.net there’s an adoption barrier that impedes their superseding Twitter in the future.

      But hey maybe I’m wrong. If Twitter can fix their web product and improve some of their internal structure maybe they’ll be around in another ten years. Either way, the Twitter community we once knew is gone, evolved.

  2. Ruth, couldn’t agree more. I’ve been on Twitter for a long time and have had my share of milestone memories such as finding a job, getting good press and making good friends, but it’s changed a lot since the days of Ev and Biz. Doesn’t seem like the tight community it used to be with must see participation, but now just a lot of noise and it is more like work. Maybe just a victim of it’s own success.

    • Ruth Bazinet says:

      Warren, Thanks for the feedback. I think you’d be interested in this article about Twitter: allthingsd.com/20130320/twitter-untangles-its-overgrown-org-chart

  3. Skeptic says:

    Funnily enough I just un-followed about 25 accounts an hour before reading this

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