The Gong Blog

Twitter. Dead.

More than one person has come back to me/Sonali after our PRSA Richmond presentation concerned and surprised about our remarks about the future of Twitter.

The interesting thing they told us is after those remarks they spoke to others who agreed with us.

For those who weren't there, we pretty much said that Twitter was dead.

I know, pretty dangerous blanket statement, huh? So here's what we meant (and by we in this case, I mean me because Sonali isn't looking over my shoulder right now):

  • Twitter has become difficult:  There was a time where you could meet new people, have insightful comments and linked retweeted, engage in conversation.  That has become more and more difficult on Twitter likely because of its growth.  There is too much broadcasting and not enough conversing.  There is too much clutter and spam.  There was a time where a valuable tweet with a link to a cool article was met with conversation and re-tweet.  Now?  Bupkis.
  • Twitter has become siloed:   Which is not necessarily a bad thing, btw.  I am more likely to be talking to my Rutgers friends, or my #nightlybaconchat buddies on Twitter because hashtags make that easy.  Those silos make continuing long-standing conversations easy, it makes starting new conversations hard.
  • Facebook is easy:  And it now incorporates Twitter.  Our colleague Caroline Platt says Facebook has become "the mall of social media" where everything is available and within walking distance.  People will gravitate to where everything and everybody is and by extension stay away from where there are too many detours or boarded up storefronts.
  • Twitter is too constant:  The stream never dies and even with searches and filters it can be too hard to maintain and keep up with.

These are just some of my off-the-top-of-my-head reasons.

For those not willing to buy into my argument, here are some reasons that there still may be some hope:

  • It is still a great way to find specific people in specific areas:  You can track down journalists and others in specific categories using third-party tools like Listorious.com and Twellow.com.  The challenge then is to engage those folks in a meaningful conversation.  My argument is that given the breadth of Twitter, that is now much harder than it was two years ago.
  • Twitter is still a great place to share an event:  the Super Bowl, the Grammys, the Oscars, the overthrow of a middle eastern country, Twitter is great for breaking news and reaction.
  • People that want to break news on their own.  See: professional athletes and celebrities.

What I haven't really addressed so far is brands.  I'm just not seeing it.  Maybe for monitoring for reputation management purposes?  But for branding, engagement, conversation and eventually social commerce,  I'm just not seeing it.

Sorry, Twitter.  After two years as a pretty active user I will continue to tweet every night on my iPad to my friends, neighbors, TweetChat friends and colleagues.  But call me back when I can once again through a quality tweet out into the vast wilderness and get a valuable replay that starts a beautiful friendship.

Okay Twitter lovers, I'm braced for your comments.  Tweet away.  Maybe I will hear you.    

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Jon Newman

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14 Comments

  1. Phil Riggan

    I don’t think Twitter is dead, but I will agree that it has become crowded. I run three accounts, including one person account (@RigganRVA) and Facebook seems to have taken over my professional account, making it harder to have a voice or personality behind the messages.  It seems more like a feed than a conversation.  Good points.

  2. Stephen Lackey

    I’m going to go with you on this one Jon.  After looking at my stream for the past two weeks…it’s minimal.  Was an active user for the past two years, but now I feel that I’m just trying to scoot my tweets in the crowded room, just for the sake of it.  And that takes a lot of energy that I think the users are losing.  Maybe I followed too many over-talkative brands and I can’t hear what’s important (which, having a worthwhile amount of followers was important, to a small degree).

    Nice post.

  3. Sonali

    Quora is the new Twitter (for now).  Those meaningful Q/As are happening over there and many a time, those in the know are pitching in with answers.  As you pointed out in an earlier blog-post, there is no way of knowing which answer is the “right” one, although you can designate someone as the best source.  It will be interesting to see how long Quora remains a valuable source.
    The value to brands? similar to answers on Linked In – establish yourself/ company as thoughtful.  Particularly useful for B2B

  4. Mike Toner

    Agreed. Recently- it seems like I am stuck trying to filter out the noise on twitter…

    I know twitter implemented lists (semi-useless, tedious, just categorizes people you follow); Gmail added a priority inbox which attempts to place your “important” emails at the top (a little better, automated, simple). I think a priority inbox for Twitter would be a good start, but more interesting would be creating multiple inboxes/folders with their own user-defined conditions more like refined email and less like the firehose which Twitter has become.

    Lackeyman- Over-talkative brands!?! on Twitter?!? No…..

  5. Woody Coates

    I’m starting to think that social media users are tiring of social media period. It is a lot of work with a questionable amount of payoff. I see lots of folks dropping off the SM chat (myself included).
    I say this having gotten work from a twitter feed.
    Good timely post Jon.

  6. Troy Bell

    The airport continues to see opportunities for customer engagement and assistance on Twitter, but I agree that it is a great deal of work to maintain.

    For @Flack4RIC, I started “siloing” as soon as I saw a way. So much conversation, to be useful I had to find a way to sift through it.  Thank you, HootSuite.

    Troy @ RIC

  7. Lackeyman

    The more I think about it….while the conversation has become extremely clustered, so many people have fully engulfed themselves in this business and model for communicating with customers, that the usage will continue to be there.  Maybe dominated by businesses and public figures, but it will continue to be there, evolving and changing.

  8. Mark Cipolletti

    I’ve always been concerned that Twitter didn’t have staying power, mainly because it uses it’s own language (abbreviations, hash tags, etc.) that makes it difficult for some to adopt. They’ve created an environment where there are the hardcore tweeters and the outsiders. I’ve already started to see businesses and non-profits tag their emails and marketing materials with only the Facebook symbol. It is still pretty useful when attempting to topple your local dictator.

  9. Travis Parrish

    Jon – Ironically, I was looking for something and stumbled across your blog post from almost exactly a year ago, ‘an open letter to aaron kremer of richmond biz sense’ and then saw your latest post. I think trends and cycles are going to move even more rapidly as time moves on and technology continues to advance. For marketers it is going to be about take aways and nimbleness (surprisingly not a made up word) but even those may be few and far between as attitudes, experiences, buying behavior and other factors change with technology’s access, speed, etc. The difference also lies in the market. For someone who’s niche is public safety, defense and the federal sector, as the consumer social media trend continues to evolve beyond where we were during your Jan/2010 post, my clients are building and tweaking their social media strategies – some for the first time. It’s a crazy, but extremely fun time for marketing and public relations professionals. The trick is making sure you create the next trend or at least stay ahead of it.

    I’m looking forward to what’s next… Have a great day.

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