2008 showed an unbelievable growth for Twitter as THE place for microblogging. With competitors like Pownce closing their doors, it seems that Twitter has the stronger cards to become the sole survivor in this field.
The Twitter ecosystem is expanding so fast, that the switching costs for users are becoming even higher the more they get connected in the network. Twitter has the network advantages. For Twitter I expect the break into mainstream will come in 2009, if their server park can handle the load!
Twitter Goes Mainstream
- Mainstream media is starting to pay attention. A number of articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal must have brought Twitter under the eyes of thousands of non Silicon Valley Internet users. We in Silicon Valley tend to think everybody is aware of all the latest tools and services just launched yesterday. This, however, is off course the opposite. Twitter was a rather unfamiliar phenomenon in rural US or even non-Silicon Valley.
- Important news worthy events are well documented and break on Twitter. Lately I think about the Mumbai shootings and the plane crash in Denver. But earlier in 2008 a number of events were first broken on Twitter, before the traditional media noticed something happened. Earthquakes, fires or riots. News breaks fast & early on Twitter, as everyone can become a “journalist” breaking news. Just imagine how Twitter can help you if you get arrested in a foreign country like Egypt. Here reported on CNN!
- Early adopters who lost interest will return. In the early stages of Twitter, users didn’t know how to use Twitter to their advantage. The way people use Twitter has changed over time. If you were early enough in the game, somewhere in 2006, I can understand why you abandoned the service. Early at Twitter, people were using the service to sent random messages through Twitter. Some early adopters who lost interest abandoned the service. As the usage of Twitter has changed, these people are losing out of the great value which is currently shared through Twitter. I still am not interested when you are going to the bathroom, or what you had for lunch. Not providing value to the conversation will get you un-followed by me. But then again, why should you care about that!
- The next president of the US has been using Twitter. Barack Obama was breaking news on Twitter everyday to his more than 100.000 followers. How about that for free publicity or connection to your followers. It does not get more mainstream like this. What’s next, Barack tweeting from an official dinner with Vladimir Putin?
- CNN is using Twitter for input in News reports. Ricksanchezcnn uses the input from the conversations and replies he gets through Twitter directly in the way he makes television. He gets instant feedback on the subjects CNN is reporting of. It goes even further, Rick is now actually asking his Twitter followers for input on what to cover in any broadcast. Asking a question in the morning, using the responses in afternoons episodes. You can follow this innovative mainstream media journalist also on his blog: Rick Sanchez on CNN
- Twitterbots are becoming big through adding value. Twitter bots like sports cores (list of teams for directs scores US teams: stevepoland), weather updates, people boarding airplanes or stock quotes are open up the hidden value of being connected on Twitter. Now you can get instant updates on real time information wherever you are. A list of Bots on Twitter can be found on: twitter.pbwiki.com/bots
- Twitter has become the dominant communication method on conferences. Asking a question on a conference can be difficult. You have to put up your hand, wait for a microphone to come your way, and then you just have to remember what you wanted to ask. How much easier can it be if a moderator is just picking the questions from a pre-communicated twitter account. On the other hand, live tweeting a conference will give people who stay at home the latest download on the content shared on the stage. Conferences will never be the same as without Twitter in the hands of the audience… or the panel.
- Through Twitter you can actually get your complaint resolved, fast! Do you have a complaint about one of your service companies, Comcast; AT&T or any other company with a long waiting times on the CS support lines? Now try to tweet a nasty message about how this company sucks. You might be surprised how fast a reply is posted to you. Just read the experience of Rebecca, working for SEOmoz in Seattle. Just read how Comcastbill helped her with a complaint, and turned a bad experience she probably would have blogged about into a great experience, which she also blogged about.
- More services build on Twitter get funded. Stocktwits (@stocktwits) got just funded after being live for just two months. When more services are build on the Twitter API’s, more value is created. Only the services that have real revenue potential will attract VC or angel funding. Twitpay (@twitpay) is another potential that can grow big…
- Companies start to communicate PR messages through Twitter. Using Twitter as a marketing instrument is daunting with some companies. Using it strategically to break news about the company opens up new possibilities in the PR field. Twitter cannot only be used for PR, but might also be interesting to get new business partners.
Know When Twitter Has Made It!
- When Sites about Twitter Tips are set up by Darren Rowse (joking)
- When you parents are starting to follow you
- When a Top 10 Twitter jokes is featured by David Letterman
- When your company is posting Twitter Guidelines with Do’s & Don’ts on the corporate intranet
- When Twitter messages are being used in court cases
- When Twitter messages are dominating Google SERP’s
- When a government sex scandal breaks on Twitter
- All 26 letters of the alphabet signify a Twitter command
- When Twitter starts to make money
- Techcrunch stops writing about Twitter
I’m looking forward to the year to come, as Twitter has played an important role for me in 2008. I connected with more people online than before and discovered a number of interesting blogs to read. How have you used Twitter in 2008, and what are you expecting to get out of Twitter in 2009? The key to use Twitter in 2009 for me, is to create value for the people who are following me & to connect with more people online.
What else can you think about why Twitter will break into mainstream? And when do you know this has happened? I would love to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter. I’m @TheNextCorner