Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To Go Mainstream, Twitter Must Have More Purpose

Yesterday, Kara Swisher did a post that concluded Twitter is not yet mainstream. She came to this conclusion based on an informal survey of people she conducted at a wedding in Washington, D.C. this past weekend (nobody in the group of thirty people surveyed knew what Twitter was). The fact that Twitter is not yet mainstream is not a surprise to anybody. To substantiate this point further, data just released by Hitwise shows that Twitter accounts for a very small percentage of Internet traffic in the U.S.

Kara's post, however, did spawn a lot of discussion in the tech blogosphere about when/if Twitter will become mainstream. It even prompted Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC to do his first blog post in months (he has been just Twittering). I agree with many of the points made by Jeff: that Twitter -- and micro-blogging, in general -- will become mainstream; that micro-blogging is less time consuming than blogging and, therefore, less intimidating to many people; and, that the adoption of smartphones, like the iPhone, will make micro-blogging easier for people.

There is one point, however, I have not seen mentioned by anybody, which I believe is the critical success factor in making Twitter mainstream -- and that is purpose. I feel that for more people to adopt micro-blogging, there needs to be a more clearly defined purpose. I think there are large numbers of people who are not comfortable putting out "what they are doing" for the whole world to see. It's not because they are sensitive to making their posts public but it's because they don't understand "why" they should do it.

I believe the adoption of Twitter will accelerate tremendously once it is applied in a more purposeful manner. Take the concept of micro-communities as an example. I think it would be powerful if users had the ability to go into a "Twitter room" and interact with others about a particular common interest -- whether it is a sports team, or a hobby, or whatever.

It is this type of purpose, I believe, which will make Twitter mainstream.


ver said...

I'm sure you're right, but in the meantime all of us who are already twittering away can just enjoy the Pure Joy of the Tweet. Because I have to admit: I only do it 'cuz it's fun.

van said...

Perry, right on. Twitter is a means to a cause. The questios is, 'what's the cause?'