I have to admit that like many others I was initially skeptical of Twitter when I started using it a couple of years ago. It wasn’t clear to me how it fit into my tool-kit of social media applications – largely because I was already in the process of trying to narrow down my options to retain my sanity. Truth be told, I’m still not a frequent user – though I have used it to keep in touch with friends and events. But putting aside my personal preferences I see increasing evidence that Twitter has become more than just a trival fad.
In just the past two weeks, I’ve seen several examples of how Twitter’s growing popularity, immediacy and reach has increased its relevance and value well beyond a virtual gossip cooler. Last week there was ample news coverage on the update tweets from “Astro Mike” from the space shuttle Atlantis. (Even though it appears Mike was actually forwarding his so-called tweets to NASA via email and the updates were not real-time, his content was unedited and the recipients were on Twitter.) Just today in the USA Today an enterprising reporter asked CEOs on Twitter to provide quick diagnoses on the economy via Twitter responses – sort of a social media version of quick sound bites. And there are many examples of Twitter buzz beating formal outlets or news organizations to the punch; a couple of weeks ago in Boston I heard about a subway stoppage – in real time via Twitter updates – well before the official announcement via the web. As Twitter becomes more integrated into other platforms and networks – such as Facebook – it should only increase in relevance and popularity. Check out a good summary of the Twitter hype – and the meat behind the hype – in this article.
One of the lessons I see here is that it’s difficult to predict what social media tools will evolve into major platforms and which will fade into obscurity. I initially saw Twitter as the latter, but I now believe I erred in my assessment. Watching how these tools evolve – and perhaps even become profitable – is one of the most interesting elements of the Web 2.0 revolution.