Monday, June 11, 2012
Is the title of this blog post killing Twitter?


Last October I read an article that got me thinking about the beginning of the end for Twitter. Back then, Twitter was still a vibrant and fun-loving community of people happily sharing links and chatting to each other. I was following my own rules of making sure I mixed interesting links with personal opinion and interaction with other people. It was a blissful place.

But in the last few months I've noticed a steady decline in the rate of people engaging with me on Twitter. I hardly get any retweets, and mentions are few and far between. I know I'm not being any less interesting than usual (heaven forbid!) and am still tweeting the same mix and volume of content. So what's going on?

Twitter is certainly a noisier place than it was a year ago. Check out the stats: Tweets went from 140m per day at the start of 2011 to 200m per day by the end of the year. 91% of brands are now on Twitter, up 7% since 2011. And big events create bigger spikes than ever, with 32,000 tweets per minute during one recent football match and 1m tweets during the Jubilee weekend (stats via my client Brandwatch).

At the same time, the way I use Twitter has changed too. I follow a lot of people, but never look at the full stream, preferring to segment the noise into a few small lists of people I'm interested in. I rarely find news on Twitter unless it's being analysed and curated into popular topics via an app such as Flipboard or Thirst. If I want to get in touch with someone and I don't know (or can't be bothered to find) their mobile number or email address, I'll use Twitter as a network with built-in address book and delivery mechanism. But if I want to catch up on interesting news, you'll find me over at Google+.

To compound the issue, Twitter is learning how to monetise itself. This means lots more ads - this weekend Twitter launched its branded hashtag pages with a TV ad during a NASCAR race. There will be countless more mechanisms design to syphon off some of your attention in the pipeline.

What I'm saying is... I *think* the way I use Twitter is changing. It seems to be slowly morphing into LinkedIn for me - a communication tool rather than a place to go and hang out and read stuff. Ironically, the amount of content (and spam) is stopping me consume content.

To make it worse, in order to be heard above the noise sites are going to greater and greater lengths to write headlines that beg to be clicked on, using ridiculous statements or overblown superlatives. Twitter is noisy enough, but all the desperate clickbaiting is about to tip it over the edge and blow the speakers.