Why Twitter will soon become obsolete

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Twitter's role in social media

At some point during the advent of these new social media websites, marketing and advertising agencies found a new way to advertise to their demographics. The current definition of "social media marketing" was born. All you need to do is create a profile, round up a few thousand "friends," and you have an instant platform on which to market your products or services. This has been a godsend for both individuals and companies. Companies can target people that actually are interested, and individuals can keep up with their brands.

Twitter's functionality is infinitely simpler than any of the previously mentioned sites, but its simplicity is what seems to be exciting to its user base at this point in time. No one has to be a profound -- or even good -- writer to be a popular Twitterer. Repeat the formula in the previous paragraph, and you have an instant way to market with little overhead. Signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter is also fairly low, so marketers hopping on the bandwagon now are almost guaranteed a modicum of success using the platform.

As with any internet "gold rush," as soon as others demonstrate success, everyone moves in, and the "next big thing" is born. This is exactly how email spam happened in the first place. Email was a great way to market the first few years it was around. No one even knew that it was inappropriate to send unsolicited messages. Granted, the new paradigm is to choose which companies you'd like to follow -- but the signal-to-noise ratio becomes unreasonable at some point, and the medium loses viability. Take MySpace, for example. I have not logged onto the site for months now, but I know if I do, I will have dozens (if not hundreds) of friend requests and invites to things I have 0 percent interest in. The time spent truly using the site is not worth the time it takes to deal with the spam.

Twitter is fast approaching the same situation. All I have to do is mention QuickBooks, and I have 30 QuickBooks "experts" following me in hopes of getting business. How long will it take to wear people down dealing with these kinds of requests? There are already services offering to monetize your tweets by injecting "relevant" ads. Not a happy way to spend my social time online, I must say.

I predict Twitter will find its social media and marketing niche, but I cannot see it being nearly as important as some marketers are making it out to be. The retention rate of Twitter is said to be only around 30 percent, which means seven out of 10 people try it out once and don't come back.



Max Sanna
Max Sanna August 4, 2009 at 7:43 AM

This article is an interesting insight, which I share to a certain extent, although I can't help but wonder how can you predicate against annoying marketing techniques, when this website itself is literally full of bad marketing practices.
Examples? The fact this very article is split in 5 pages to pump up ads impressions (it could perfectly fit in one page, couldn't it?), the fact it requires registration to post a comment, tracking cookies, etc.

UrAdGinny Incorporation
UrAdGinny Incorporation July 2, 2009 at 10:29 AM

What will be the next level in the world of social networking. We have seen social networking websites with features, application.... what next ?

Mark Mayhew
Mark Mayhew July 1, 2009 at 12:59 AM

you are a journalist who supposedly "gets" Twitter, yet you don't sign your posts with your Twitter handle/url?

Mark Mayhew
Mark Mayhew July 1, 2009 at 12:49 AM

is it *hype* when a former Bush advisor mentions that the guys who started Twitter should win the Nobel Peace Prize (for how Twitter was used during Iran's crisis?

Connie Giordano
Connie Giordano June 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Bless you for making the one point that gets lost in the daily hype--concentrate more on writing and less on the platform! Good content and well-planned execution are foundational. Twitter, Wave, and who knows what's next platforms are tactical, and knowing the latest tactics is important, but without a solid foundation are pretty irrelevant.

Jason Clark
Jason Clark June 23, 2009 at 5:40 PM


"Besides, it's the execution that is successful, not necessarily the platform on which it is executed."

Words of wisdom!

Nicole Rawski
Nicole Rawski June 23, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Jason, I think you make some very great points in your article. As with any fads, there is a bell-shaped curve and once it hits that peak, it's only a matter of time that it will just fade away. Social media is definitely a medium that has these platforms that continually go through these fad type of phases. I try to remind those interested in social media not to get too attached to the platforms because there will be something better that comes along next. Besides, it's the execution that is successful, not necessarily the platform on which it is executed.

Look forward to seeing more articles.


Jason Clark
Jason Clark June 23, 2009 at 9:55 AM

@jenharris09, Thanks for the reply. As VP and Creative Director of my company, I do not use Twitter for marketing purposes, and I do not seek new business from Twitter, so no, you would not expect to see much there. We run social media campaigns for our clients that are well branded and run as they should, but not through my accounts.

I also feel that your reaction was somewhat knee-jerk from the admittedly sensational headline. My article put Twitter in context to other online communication outlets and acknowledged it's usefulness at this point in time.

Twitter has definitely changed the communication landscape, but I guarantee that the next paradigm shift is just around the corner. Will Twitter be able to survive? Probably, but not with the hype it currently enjoys.

Jen Harris
Jen Harris June 22, 2009 at 5:01 PM

I do believe that there will be bigger & possibly better "things" that happen in the future...but to say that Twitter will go by the wayside is a reflection of the fact that you don't use it.
You talk about banding, yet you still have a teal background, your avatar is ????? and you only have 152 followers which you are only following 39 of them. Although I do believe something else will eventually come along, I would believe you more if you actually used Twitter like those you talk about who are fanatical about it...or talk about those that have made their mark on Twitter (in a good Dell or DirecTV or ChrisBrogan).
Twitter has changed the way we dialog, communicate, sell, be sold to, help, trade, set appointments, get jobs (yes, I have found 2 due to Twitter), rally, gain acceptance, network, learn & research. It changes the way we find info: $5 if you can guess how I found this article?
Remember, Mikey didn't like Life until he tried it!

Alexander Baar
Alexander Baar June 17, 2009 at 10:36 PM

This article was excellent Jason I'll probably start waving soon thanks to you. Keep up the good work and in the future I will only use your company VIA for all my internet needs. I have a small start up on E-bay, but not showing enough profit to go global and need your experience. I will keep you in mind for the future I have you bookmarked. Thanks Alex

Calvin Lee
Calvin Lee June 16, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Great article, Jason. Though I must add that Friendster is still popular in South East Asia- Malaysia and Singapore in particular.

Tweet till the next Wave washes the birds of the trees ;)

Alec Green
Alec Green June 15, 2009 at 7:02 PM

Great post Jason. So much of the hype on Twitter seems to be the result of the makeup of Twitter's early adopters. Twitter seems perfectly suited to anyone looking to share their opinions, insights, rants, agenda, or content. It's not about fostering connections, it's about generating publicity. Journalists, writers, bloggers, pundits, politicians, and celebrities thrive on Twitter. And with so many influential people promoting the technology through all forms of traditional media, its popularity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Patrick Boegel
Patrick Boegel June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM

It will only be made obsolete if the users collectively make it obsolete.

Where Twitter has an enormous advantage over Facebook and certainly over the extremely untested Wave is its simplicity makes it very mobile friendly. Facebook is annoyingly rigid on a mobile device, and Wave, well lets just say I really enjoy the functions of FriendFeed but using it on mobile is nauseating.

Eric Yaillen
Eric Yaillen June 15, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Twitter has evolved and has shown itself to be meaningless as a social platform, but meaningful as a business alert model.

Because it is simple functionality, it is unlikely a newcomer to the scene can get any advantage over the original (far unlike the shift from friendster, to myspace, to facebook where new more sophiticated functionality is king). First rule of brand awareness is usually that FIRST wins! Just look at Kleenex, Coke, Xerox whose brand names are emboddied in the dictionary as generic terms...something Twitter and Tweat have quicly become.

Brent Billock
Brent Billock June 15, 2009 at 4:33 PM

Great article, Jason.

I'm a pretty big Twitter fan, so I'm hoping you're wrong about its pending demise. If it does go away, I doubt it will be Wave that does it in.

Wave is absolutely brilliant, and I think it is going to swallow up a huge chunk of internet communications (as I said here: ). However, I don't think it will do Twitter in. Wave still exists as a mainly private medium for invited guests, though it is extensible enough to interact with more public platforms like Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs.

That extended outreach to other platforms is the right road, though. If one web service can offer a reliable interface to interact with all of your friends no matter what platform each of them has chosen, and no matter what type of content you are posting, that could be the first step toward becoming the Twitter-killer you're predicting.

Todd Farrow
Todd Farrow June 15, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Agreed, Twitter has it's place but I find it highly overrated. Unless you follow it religiously if you are following too many folks and vice versa, the tweets get lost in the mix and become spam IMO. I know you can dictate who can post on your page, but it seems redundant to me.

Great story.

Dimas Begunoff
Dimas Begunoff June 15, 2009 at 2:08 PM

I agree, that the signal-to-noise ratio gets a little overwhelming when you are following a lot of people (which to me seems quite ridiculous) ... but twitter as newsletter type platform is brilliant, allowing faster cycles when promoting your site/etc with less room for error (if you've done newsletters at some point i'm sure you've had long nights making sure the links are just right for tracking, quite stressful if you have not evolved to using some sort of a tool) ... Like you, I view twitter more of a platform, a concept, a new paradigm ...

Peggy Dolane
Peggy Dolane June 15, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Twitter has one advantage over other platforms, it has a lot of outside people invested in it being successful -- all of the app builders (ex. tweetdeck, peoplebrowsr, tweetgrid, mr. Tweet, etc) who have their whole business model built around Twitter being in existence.

That said, thanks for pressing me to check out Google Wave. I've been ignoring it and need to better understand it's potential.

Stephen Riley
Stephen Riley June 15, 2009 at 12:54 PM

You make some valid points; it is a bit overhyped and new users don't get much guidance overall -- its a bit like getting thrown in a giant pool without knowing how to swim. Myself and a few other passionate users are working on hopefully a helpful solution to this.

But really, Twitter isn't for everyone; like anything it takes real work to get it to work for you. The advantage it's had since inception has been flexibility; the "obscure" language you referenced was invented by users to make it more of the kind of functionality they needed.

As long as this evolution continues to happen, Twitter will stay around. However I agree its role will most likely shift, but still filling a functionality void people need.

feel free to reply me with feedback or questions! :)

Greg Padley
Greg Padley June 15, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Thanks, Jason. Sounds like soon we'll all be surfing the Wave!

I like your concept of the History of Social Networking chart and wrote something based around similar logic a few weeks ago -

Around our office we've been talking about 'tag clouds' and connecting people's personal tag clouds to each others learn and communicate.

Regardless, you hit the nail on the head with your paragraph- "Test different media, but let's not get caught up in just one. Twitter is not the final answer to social media marketing. Staying aware, good writing, and good communication will always be more important. Think 'writing' instead of 'blogging' or 'tweeting.'"

Jason Clark
Jason Clark June 15, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Thanks for all the great feedback so far! I'd like for my next article to discuss a solid communication strategy that does not rely on any one (over)hyped tool. I missed too many deadlines getting this one out, and didn't want to scope creep my own article. ;)

JR Hopwood
JR Hopwood June 15, 2009 at 10:35 AM

THANK YOU Jason!! I have been saying this for months now while lemming-marketers continue to hype. No doubt, Twitter has it's place, but not in every genre. I almost see it more as a Customer Service tool in the future. What better way to help out customers getting frustrated (see HR Block during tax time). However, the one-hit wonders online don't last that long. I too have not logged in to MySpace in months and, besides getting the vanity URL I wanted, who knows when the same fate will happen to Facebook. The reason Facebook will stay current and Twitter won't is that, by golly, you can do the exact same thing you do on Twitter on Facebook. In fact, there's an app that posts your Tweets on Facebook as your status. So what makes Twitter any better than Facebook? Facebook and Wave will be the leaders in Social Media because of their multi-faceted architecture. If all I want to do is Tweet, I can, if all I want to do is connect to family, I can, if all I want is to use it as an e-mail tool between friends, I can. Marketers need to ALWAYS look at the medium before investing time and money... I think now would be a good time to sit back, relax and ask yourself, is the time Employee-X spends on our Twitter account "really" worth it? Sometimes the answer is yes, but more often, it's probably no. However, since you have the account set up, why not send the login to your Director of Customer Service, now THERE'S a marriage made in heaven!

Carol Phillips
Carol Phillips June 15, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Very insightful article, Jason. This is the first time I've heard a reasonable explanation of why Twitter has no plan to make money. I think you nailed the reason why Twitter is so popular - and at the same time why is it is likely to be overtaken by another even simpler platform, most likely Google Wave. In the meantime, I don't mind evangelizing for Twitter as it is the most useful platform to date.

todd meadows
todd meadows June 15, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Remember BBS Fidonet? Very social and useful back then for showing guys how to date (before Mystery) and develop quick seduction. If only I had known how that subject would grow. ;-).

Vincent Amari
Vincent Amari June 15, 2009 at 8:03 AM

You may want to add FriendsReunited and LinkedIn to your 'History of Social networking' chart?