Big Little Things

Twitter tastes like Kool-Aid which tastes yummy. Want some?

Twitter. It’s something I’ve been avoiding for the past months. I’ve even had moments of wanting it to fail a little because the idea just kinda bugged. Who the fuck cares about status updates?

But recently, I realized it’s not about status updates. It’s not, as the Facebook prompt suggests, about what I’m “doing right now.” And it’s not, as the LinkedIn prompt suggests, about what I’m “working on right now.”

Twitter is a whole new kind of human communication—a one-to-many conversation—that enables a whole new kind of community. Here’s a nice summary (from Deep Jive Interests):

It’s because I can listen and participate, in real time, with a giant chat room full off interesting people, who at any given time, are thinking out loud, reporting on things they find important, but doing so in a fairly terse and concise way; and, who are almost always reachable and generally approachable about answering any particular question you might have.

This is a big fucking deal. I know because I’ve recently been lamenting the fact that my areas of interest are unusual and my fellow weirdos often live in other cities. Sure, we all have blogs and delicious accounts, and lots of us are on Facebook or Linkedin. We all use email, text, and chat. Nonetheless, we do not have community and we don’t really have a running conversation. Twitter looks like it’s gonna change that.

Now I want to show you another interesting tidbit, the Five Stages of Twitter Acceptance (from the Influential Marketing Blog):

1. Denial
“I think Twitter sounds stupid. Why would anyone care what people are doing right now?”

2. Presence

“I don’t get it, but I guess I should at least create an account.”

3. Dumping
“I use Twitter to send people links to my blog posts and to send people my press releases.”

4. Conversing
“I don’t always post useful stuff, but I am using Twitter to have authentic 1×1 conversations.”

5. Microblogging
“I use Twitter to post useful stuff that people read, and I’m having authentic 1×1 conversations.”

Lastly, some recently released stats, and a business-case anecdote (via LitmanLive):

* 70% of users joined in 2008.
* 20% have joined in the last 60 days.
* An estimated 5-10,000 new accounts are opening every day.
* The average user has been on Twitter for 275 days.
* 80% of users have a bio on their profile. (I personally don’t follow users without a bio)
* 62% have a photo on their profile.
* Traffic has grown 600% over the last 12 months.
* Total user numbers are between 4-5m with approx 30% unengaged.

(Sources Hubspot and Compete)

It’s not there yet, but it’s getting towards reaching the tipping point. It has potential for business also, success stories are starting to emerge from well known brands who are establishing a presence and engaging with their audience. Perhaps most famously, Dell recently reported that they have made more than $1 million dollars through their DellOutlet Twitter account. It’s clear that there’s value to be had from many angles.

My point: I think Twitter is here in a big way. I think it’s not a matter of adoption, but acceptance. I think it’s a matter of a learning curve (the one-to-many conversation is new to everyone, and we’ll get better), and I think it’s a matter of the hockey-stick curve we see when the network effect kicks in, which is gonna happen real soon.

With that, I’ll sign off and invite you to connect with me on Twitter.

7 Responses to “Twitter tastes like Kool-Aid which tastes yummy. Want some?”

  1. Michael Colton Says:

    WALL-E & THE PROBLEM WITH TWITTER!

    Witty, poignant, and cynical in its proof points, the movie Wall-E presents the unexpected but unfortunate result of the way we communicate in the world. So while we are not living 700 years in the future, we are not all obese and we are not losing all of our bone-density because we live on a mothership in outer space, we are losing our face-to-face connection with each other. Maybe you can take the POV that we are gaining proximity and intimacy with people in far away places. Maybe it is the wave of the future. But its unfortunate. Its making us all more likely to be transient and less physically social. As Wall-E demonstrates, in generations of the future, we will have forgotten basic formalities and subtle physical acknowledgments. It wont all just disappear but will be slowly and subtly enough and demonstrated only in our offspring who take their cues from us. Just as me and my children today have little awareness of animals outside the zoo so future generations will have an odd kind of comfort with their parent’s transience or the ease with which their parents fall in and out of relationship.

    In my opinion, Twitter is a playful but sad alibi for a relationship. Maybe it innovative and cute today, but in the future—a future we will take little responsibility for our children with their children will come closer to confirming wall-E’s brilliant suspicion. Hopefully it wont parallel in time the loss of oxygen and photosynthesis on our planet.

    Hey! Spend less time telling people what you are doing in the privacy of your own mental space and more time interacting face to face. Use you muscles-The TINY muscles in your face to smile and greet other people and the GIGANTIC muscles in your legs to walk out amongst your local friends.

    If you want another take on what the future will be like, see the documentary, “THE END OF SUBURBIA”. Sure its primarily about the death of fossil fuels but the bright future involves the creation of self-sufficient local communities. Jobs and lives will all exist in local areas the proficiency will be valued because of its value in sustaining the local milieu. We will live with and our cultural values with support living next door to our best friends and we will know them deeper than we ever have before. On the contrary, today we living in cities where we do not often know the person living on the other side of our wall. We drive great distances to work and we communicate virtually to people in the same office.

    700 years in the future they will learn about us and scratch their heads at what we thought was right.

  2. Axel Albin Says:

    mike-

    awesome notes.

    you might well be right. but these days i am super inspired by the relentlessly growing global brain, and by the manifold ways humans are overcoming the problem of spatial distance.

    i have a lot of trust in nature and life. i believe that the optimal destiny will manifest through the all-encompassing process of variation and selection. i recognize that this a statement of faith, but so are all statements about the future.

    one last thought: it’s curious how often people (myself included) tend to forecast the future in extremes. take the hyperlocal, end-of-suburbia scenario. i’ll agree with the idea that communities need to be more self-sufficient in order to be more sustainable and resilient. however, these communities will not be isolated. they will have deep connectivity to the global network. eventually the global network will facilitate the creation of a transport technology innovation (some new energy source, a new engine, etc) that will once again make it economically compelling to import raspberries from a great distance. we’ll do that for a while until it becomes unsustainable again and so on. this kind of scenario seems to better align with my sense of the cycles and rhythms of change.

    : )
    aa

  3. Michael Colton Says:

    Touché Axel…

    And you got me there. I did and do forecast in extremes. The effects over time would be subtle and probably never experienced to the point of suffrage by anyone. I think the exaggeration comes from a sense of helplessness over the impact the information society will have on my children and my children’s children.

    Kids online are junkies and the machine sucks them in like chocolate on a stcik. They are more likely to be isolationists and with a resources like Twitter, enabled to do so even more so. And when we get them out of the house they want to take their Nintendo DS or watch a DVD in the mini-van. Sounds pathetic, I know.

    Darwin characterized dominance of the recessive and this to me is exemplary. A result of and ABSENCE of variation and selection.

    Consider this analogy. In childbirth woman consent to c-section in at least 35% of all cases in the U.S. The WHO is now seriously alarmed at the impact over time and generations. The recessive effect ( with the absence of selective pressures) is that, the more likely a woman is to have a c-sections, the more likely her daughter is to have a c-section and so on. Sounds silly but cranium size is then free to exceed pelvic cavity diameter. Use your imagination to imagine the inherent complications besides future c-sections and the effect on the Hat industry.

    Twitter and Facebook, innocent as they seem to be might be ultimately culpable. the ‘inside-the-cranium” equivalent. Our heads are getting lop-sided, virtually.

    So, I have exaggerated on the impacts as do most forecasters. Its high drama and attempts to shake people in to caring about something that is beyond the sensory world. But optimism and faith in the resilience of humanity can also only be experienced within our limited framework and we haven’t really had the opportunity to witness phenotypic effects of our ingenuity.

    Sustainability efforts are, to some extent, requiring the rethinking of the ingenuity that brought about the industrial age. And who knows how far it will persist and require our ongoing rehabilitation of our original bright ideas.

    BTW, I also wonder what reinventions will be in store for societies that experience the spoils of the information age. I say this to a guy who I know has taken pride in living without a television for years.

    Michael : P

  4. Stowe Boyd Says:

    It’s actually many-to-many, not one-to-many.

  5. Noah Wiles Says:

    Michael,

    I just had to make a couple points about your argument and forecast about what Twitter could mean for society.

    One, your post that is now reaching many people over the internet of whom can now digest and retort as desired is essentially the exact same exchange and social interaction (because this does qualify as a social interaction between humans) that Twitter offers. So you are clearly engaging in and benefitting from what you say could ultimately be the end of society.

    Two, if you are someone who is on Twitter and who is actively using it and following others on it, you come to find something very interesting. Many of the posts that people are submitting to the site are updates, and as is becoming and will continue to become more prevalent, about or that include pictures and videos of SOCIAL situations that the poster is currently engaged in with other people.

    So no offense, but I just think your forecast is misguided and does not take into account the fact that Twitter exists specifically because we are, by nature, social creatures and are constantly trying to find new ADDITIONAL ways to connect with each other. Twitter is by no means a replacement for direct face to face socializing. Anyone who wakes up in the morning and goes to work or school or performs whatever hundreds of little daily tasks that all require you to be out and about interacting with people knows this. I think this vision of yours of a possible WALL-E future is nothing but sensationalism at its best.

    Maybe you are watching too many Disney movies and not socializing enough. : )

    Just messin’ with you dude! I love that movie and I’m not trying to be a jerk.

    Take care brother.

  6. jason lynes Says:

    seriously, who gives a fuck about status updates?

    i thought this post inspiring and motivating. ive been using twitter to mostly shit with people, or post a lyric in my brain, or some other dumb crap. but the whole up-to-the-minute “just made an omlet” status updates have bugged me all along. using twitter as a community, and carrying on rad conversations with like-minded people is pretty sweet, and inspiring. well put.

  7. Axel Albin Says:

    @ stowe boyd

    i see your point, but i think it’s more accurate to say twitter is comprised of many one-to-many conversations.

    my outbound posts go from me (ONE person) to my follower list (many people). my inbound feed is the other side of that. it comes from many individuals each posting solo to their respective follower lists.

    each of these one-to-many conversations can overlap with other one-to-many conversations, but they don’t have to, and mostly they don’t. this lack of overlap is key.

    i’d say that the phrase “many-to-many conversation” better describes a chat room, and misses this key aspect of twitter.

    thoughts?

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