37 thoughts on “Twitter's Tipping Point”

  1. Hey Om. First of all I live in Union Square. Next time, ping me and I’ll buy you lunch.

    Second of all, i’m writing a book on Twitter and I began writing things down in my spare time in August of 08 when there weren’t any books on the subject and now there are over a dozen titles for sale on Amazon. It’s amazing how fast the little service has grown and I’m excited to be a part of its growth.

    I have to say that there’s madness to the Twitter economy right now. People are using it for millions of different things, there are millions of web based tools and desktop apps that interact with it and companies are being funded and making money off Twitter’s back yet…

    there’s not Twitter directory of apps, paid commercial accounts, getting started help for new users and it seems like Twitter’s concept was to flip a switch and see what happened and something certainly happened! I just wonder what’s next. Will Twitter continue like this or try to regain control of the 3rd party apps? It’s all a mystery right now.

    1. Adam

      Thanks for the invitation for lunch. I will take you up on that πŸ™‚

      Best of luck on the book on Twitter. It should be a fun read.

    2. A book on twitter? Great idea – I suggest 15,325 chapters of 140 characters πŸ˜‰ OK, OK.. I’m sorry!

      1. Great suggestion! You’re not the first to recommend a book that’s tweeted out but, like Twitter, there’s no business model πŸ™‚

    3. Hi Adam, for your Twitter anecdotes, there has been a UK journalist trying to trace the guy who knocked him off his bike and went off after giving a false address (ongoing, with many ‘leads’), and a UK magazine that found two missing dogs via Twitter. Future of Twitter? It will level out, launch a commercial arm and float on until Bill Gates makes a ‘comeback’ with Microtelepathy.

      1. You make some excellent points but the book isn’t a book about success stories per se’ it’s going to be a style guide just like a style guide that you’d read in school or a field guide you take with you when you go camping.

        There are no rules to Twitter and we respect and understand that but I’ve send out over 50 thousand tweets across all of my Twitter accounts and I’ve learned a thing or two about short hand blogging and the best way to get the job done using 140 character messages.

  2. Additionally, I wanted to add I joined Twitter for the 1st time in December of ’06 and then came back in March of 07. I was on the service when we didn’t have search and replies didn’t even work. There have been advancements but the basics have remained a constant.

  3. So by “tipping point” do you mean a point where Twitter will reach their peak and begin to fail? I think Twitter is just hitting their stride and it the possibilities are already coming to fruition. Companies are making millions through sales on Twitter. Maybe you mean “tipping point” in a different way?

      1. – those exploiting T as a viral marketing tools, be it for direct profit (i.e. spitters drawing traffic to e-commerce sites)

        – those using T as a branding & comm tool to increase brand awareness…

        – Twitter itself, and their key VC / angel financiers, who now have a huge dataset to work with… wait ’til they start mining that data and pull a contextual advertising coup Γ  la Google Adsense / Doubleclick / FB Beacon.

  4. As a big Thomas Pink fan as well, I have to say that if your friend at the store wants increased business, he should tell the mother ship to actually advertise, beyond the Pink Panther cooperative crossover; other than the coverage in GQ photo spreads, visibility is non-existent and adspend is zero.
    I say this hesitantly, because I really do not want to head to my local T. Pink and find them sold out of casual shirts in XXL. It’s still a relative secret. A magnificent, fits me to a T secret.

  5. I guess the tipping point is jus starting off…a lot of my non tech friends have started signing up in the last 4 weeks..and these are the same people who jus use the web for email and facebook and just that..no rss..no blogging..and no VOD…

    In short simplicity and good pr(read celebrity endorsements) really drive the mass non tech crowd….

    Think about the deadpool of cool apps which lost out coz all their features were designed for their peers and not for the masses

  6. This whole twitter thing is a creation of the media. Why? Because twitter itself acted as a news source picked on by the news media and hence got much mention in the news. No doubt people like to mouth-off a bit but this is a “phenomenon” that is more of a fad than something that has lasting value. Take your own example of the sales person tweeting about the discount and people ‘following’ the sales man – this is highly contrived and you know it sucks as an example. How many sales people do you want to “follow”? Tho at the moment it is fashionable to report one’s every move, the fad will wear off once the twitter novelty wears off and the talking heads stop talking about it. It will be yet another “Facebook” like creature looking for a business model.

    1. IT is a creation of the media and that is why it has reached a tipping point … As opposed to other creations which are never used and die a quite death because nobody knows about it …

      The kind of free marketing twitter gets is just stupendous. It makes me envious. ..

      BTW I follow woot on twitter – Its a great way to get updates about sales … Why is it hard to believe that I will not “follow” Amazon or the apparel store om mentioned …

      And I follow updates of companies like dropbox as they let me know when they have launched new stuff … Last I checked google makes billions knowing what i search … And mobile operators mae billions off sending sms’s (a lot of them marketing spam) How hard do you think it is for twitter to make money ?

      1. Its amazing how otherwise rational people get carried away by hype. We have had one dot com bubble already for Christ’s sake. In the salesman example, can Om selectively follow the salesman’s tweets on striped shirts? Ofcourse the salesman will be tweeting all kinds of shirts and there is a name for it – spam – and people hate it. If Om wants to get updates only about striped shirts – there is a mechanism for it already, and thats called email. Twitter has made it easy for people to mouthoff and people like it for the moment. They will certainly get tired of it at one point and soon. Yeah, the free publicity is envious and its because of twitter’s new value and ease of new creation – it has made everyone citizen journalists. That value will likely remain and may be copied by regular news media but its hard to see everyone will be reporting their every move for ever or everyone will start “following” their neighborhood apparel store for ever. Nonsense.

  7. Hi Om,
    Twitter and e-commerce would be really something. E-commerce is all about targeting, tracking behaviour, individualizing to the visit etc. whereas twitter is decidedly the opposite. Can’t imagine the two together. On the other hand its perfect for broadcasting reviews and driving traffic.
    Just my 2 cents.

  8. Carl,

    I think Om is referring to Malcolm Gladwell’s definition of a ‘tipping point’ which is rather the opposite of ‘fail’, it’s “the level at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.” – The tipping point can be described as the moment when a service (or product/message/meme) turns into exponential growth and spreads ‘virally’ via word-of-mouth, it really hits mainstream etc. – More here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point

    @Om, I had a similar experience at the most recent Social Media Club event when suddenly more ‘non-techies’/Internet newbies started to join the event, sales people, an insurance salesman, people that have recently been laid off and that just heard or read something about Twitter and social media and wanted to know more. It’s the point where the message spreads far beyond our circle of early adopters and Gigaom readers πŸ™‚

    Cu and cheers,


  9. One of the downsides is that as it becomes more popular there are more high quality people using twitter. Since there so many people worth following, it is much more difficult to follow everyone and what they are saying.

    So what is the solution to following a couple hundred people that you really want to listen to what they say but can’t part ways (tear).

  10. Whenever i mention an upcoming trip (along with the city) on twitter, i get a few recommendations on hotels from various ecomm services. talk about real-time advertising

  11. Om, another example of reaching a tipping point:

    I am not a new kid on the block, but @JonathanRKnight is. (College rules, you snooze you lose). I get lots of temporary followers thinking I am him, so we follow for the DMs to get his people to him. Over the weekend he tweeted this:
    ‘ When someone stops you on the street and tells you your brother is looking for you on Twitter. Its getting out of hand!! 9:26 PM May 2nd from TwitterBerry ‘

  12. Twitter is like a breath of fresh air on the Social Media scene. I have been on it for just a few weeks now and I have met several interesting people. It is a platform to network with people you would like to meet in real life.

  13. I think Twitter awareness is high: it’s mentioned on the media here in the UK all the time, thanks to various celebrity Twitterers. However, most non-tech people I know don’t have an account yet, and a most of my friends still can’t see the point in getting one despite my banging on about it, so I’m not sure it’s reached critical mass yet (from where I sit)

  14. Creating a list of Twitter followers as a form of lead generation is a great sales technique, because it lets you communicate with them by tweeting in front of them, which is less intrusive than sending emails. I’ve written up a complete procedure for identifying Twitter users based on their profiles:

    The basic principle is based on the Google search:
    intext:”bio * [keyword]” site:twitter.com

    It lets you identify people based on any set of keywords, which is much more meaningful than using Twitter search for the words they tweet. Their profile is the most relevant data they provide.

  15. Om:
    I think actually quite lot of businesses are taking advantage of Twitter…a knitting shop here broadcasts when they have an unexpected opening in one of their classes…restaurants broadcasting their lunch specials…I recommend to all my current clients who could benefit from the real-time and targeted aspects of Twitter, to put it on their business cards, and make sure that every single person that comes to their shop gets one. Some have found that even if the customer didn’t have a twitter account, most have now heard of it, and once the shop owner explains that it’s a way to stay in touch (almost an easy loyalty program) some sign up right away. Next step…a laptop right in the shop they can sign up on. I am also working with the Mayor’s Office of Portland, Oregon, to develop low-cost, high-impact social media marketing strategies like the above for Portland’s very vibrant, DIY, small business community.

    1. All this invasion of twitter by businesses tells me that an implosion is going to follow the ‘tipping point’ – may be Om meant the ‘tipping point’ to be the falling over of an edifice without sound foundation :). Tweets will become thinly disguised advertisements. Once users get over the initial high, will start realizing that this all old spam in a new can. I do recommend people using twitter to ‘follow’ volcanoes and faults. But didn’t we have text and email alerts already?

      1. I think part of the point is that some people welcome thinly disguised advertisements…like “hey, that class you wanted to sign up for that was full?…it has an opening in an hour, if you are interested.” The nice thing about Twitter is if you don’t want that companies thinly disguised ad? Don’t follow them. All media is subject to spam of one sort or another. I personally don’t get a bit of spam from twitter, because I choose to follow smart interesting people and organizations. And, Twitter is a platform in a way…companies like Stocktwits are building very valuable tools on top of that platform. To say that it’s old spam in a new can I think dismisses completely what a lot of people are actually using it for. I think it’s at a tipping point where many many people will sign up, see no value, and forget about it, and the media will look for the new newer thing. That doesn’t mean it won’t continue to have value for many others, and that the ideas inherent in it’s usage won’t continue to evolve.

    2. @matt schulte – some people welcoming thinly disguised ads is not how ad supported media makes its money. At the end of the day Twitter has to be a viable business as well. Ad supported media works by throwing up unsolicited ads (more targeted the better) that are separate and distinct from the basic information user is looking for. Imagine a Google where only ads from those whom you preselect are displayed. That won’t be the Google we know. Problem with people subscribing to twitter ad feeds or feeds of commercial entities is that its not a good user experience in the long run. There are existing ways of communicating such info – such as e-mail and SMS alerts. Of course Twitter providing a free SMS platform is good for the advertiser, but how good is it for Twitter. Overall, all this hype doesn’t seem sustainable at all. I see parallels between facebook and twitter in that in both cases users would love to use them as long as unsolicited monetization mechanisms dont come in. In that sense both are problematic. Google does a masterful job of catching the user when he is looking for information from a broad source (the web) and puts up targeted unsolicited ads that also are valuable for both the user and advertiser.

  16. A candidate for Kuwait’s National Assembly–yes, they do have an elected body with real power–is on Twitter.

  17. Hi Om,
    If the young generation gets caught on twitter, it will create tipping point. To get them hooked, twitter need to have some entertainment or something ( I don’t know). But, hey that will be interesting. I just updated blog on twitter. Thanks for the thought though.

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