The Twitter Implosion

No, I’m not talking about Twitter collapsing under it’s own weight… not literally anyway. I’m talking about the process and change that any popular app goes through, and where Twitter is in the process.

Online, highly popular things seem to go through a process:

1. New and fresh. As such, EASY to get found, if the application is gaining popularity. It is easy to ride the crest of the wave, because you have relatively little competition, and a growing audience base.

2. Commoditization. It becomes common, others start building businesses off the side of it, and people start producing reams of “how to” instructions, touting the benefits, never mentioning that the environment they used to achieve the success is now no longer the same environment because it has grown so much. At this point, everyone is trying to jump on, it becomes a huge fad, and people say good things about it even if they are no longer true, because they are just DOING it, believing that it HAS to be good, not really analyzing the real effect. The company may go corporate at this time, instituting changes that are subtle, but which have major effects.

3. Exploitation. With popularity, comes exploitation. Spam follows any success. And it is not really controllable. As the communities respond to reduce spam, the spammers devise ways to circumvent the limitations. The environment usually ends up being about 10% what you want, and the other 90% trash. During this time, the company may respond to adjust the app to compensate – often doing so kills the spark of originality that made it grow so well in the first place.

4. Implosion. The combination of increased competition, and increased spam and corporate compensation for problems, combine to vastly reduce the effectiveness of the environment. It still grows, but the legit growth actually begins to decline, and the number of people using it in daily life for useful purposes declines. The spam growth continues to escalate, which makes it appear that it is still successful, but close analysis reveals that it is actually declining in real popularity. The big movers and shakers will become bored with it – some will hang on peripherally, maintaining a lackadaisical presence, others will wander off to the next promising thing.

5. Equilibrium or death. Somewhere, after going through all these phases, a state of equilibrium may reached, where either the spam is controlled enough that a sustained legit user base can be either mainained, or increased slowly, or, the venue gradually declines in legit use and the spammers take over. Alternately, the combination of uncontrolled exploitatin, corporate policies which strangle value, and loss of popularity gradually kill the environment. We’ve seen this happen with many online venues and with many marketing tactics. Only some really ever recover from the implosion, and those that do often do so at the expense of the value to the legit users.

I’m not predicting doom and gloom. Nobody knows WHAT Twitter will be after the implosion. But I think that it is either close to this point, or in the middle of it now. With very popular things online, it is inevitable. FaceBook has already been hit, and seems to be surviving, though the value is decreased due to the spam attacks and high competition in the venue. Linked In hasn’t really hit the Implosion stage yet because it hasn’t really taken off with that rabid popularity. YouTube is surviving it, though with reduced value, and MySpace has passed it and gone into slow decline. Google hit it, and is now in a slow decline, due largely to corporate policy which is strangling the value.

I don’t Twitter. I don’t have time. But if it were not for this impending implosion, I might have decided it was worth my time to try it out. But having watched many venues go through this, I knew that the value was temporary as it was at the time, and that if I neglected to get on board, it would pass, and something else would come along. If you miss out on Twitter, no biggie. There is more to life than Twitter, and something else will come along to replace the hype.

In general, the bigger the faddishness of it, the faster it fades into oblivion after implosion.

And if Twitter is your life, then you need to learn how to live!

One Response to The Twitter Implosion

  • I did sign up for Twitter, but I could never really find any practical application for it. I have a few friends who are heavily invested in daily (or hourly!!!) tweeting and I have watched from the sidelines for a few months as Twitter seems to become more and more spammy and littered with useless comments that do not add value to followers. In my own mine I have seen Twitter going by the wayside before long because it offers less and less worthwhile info.

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