Sunday, May 2, 2010

The bloom is off the rose for Twitter

Twitter’s owners should have cashed out when they had the chance.
The microblogging service was last year’s tech darling and its freshness date has expired.
I still use the service as a way to promote my articles on Investors.com and my personal blog. But I’m getting less bang for my tweets than I used to last year.
Whenever I post a link these days on Twitter I usually get about three to five clicks, as tracked by Bit.ly. A year ago, I got at least twice that. I just get the feeling that the Twitter community isn’t as active as it once was.
Even some celebrities have tired of it. Miley Cyrus famously quit Twitter. John Mayer is thinking about quitting.
Attention in the social media space is going elsewhere – most notably to Web 2.0 juggernaut Facebook. It’s adding features that could replace other tech services. Its Like button could supplant Digg and other social bookmarking services. And Facebook could replace Twitter as a way to share short updates and interesting weblinks.
A new study by Edison Research finds that awareness of Twitter has exploded from 5% of Americans 12 and older in 2008 to 87% in 2010. By comparison, Facebook’s awareness is 88%.
But despite equal awareness, Twitter has not been able to attract the users that Facebook has. Only 7% of Americans (17 million people) actively use Twitter, while 41% maintain a profile page on Facebook, Edison says.
Edison notes that online social networking is now a mainstream behavior in American society. Nearly 50% of Americans 12 and older maintain a profile on at least one social networking site.
“While sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have well-defined use cases and benefits, Twitter has yet to establish a clear value proposition (even as a purely entertainment service) for a majority of the current users of social networking sites and services in the United States,” Edison says.
In March, Web security company Barracuda Networks reported that a whopping 73% of Twitter accounts have tweeted fewer than 10 times, according to CNNMoney.com. It said Twitter appeared to be becoming more of a news feed than a social network.
Twitter finally released some statistics about its service at its Chirp conference on April 14. It said it has 105.8 million registered users and is adding 300,000 new users a day, according to PaidContent.org. Twitter also said it gets 180 million unique visitors to the site each month.
With all the spam accounts, inactive accounts and joke accounts on Twitter, it’s hard to gauge the real active Twitter user community from the company’s official number.
Just consider all the weird stuff being tweeted about on Twitter. A Huffington Post list of the nine craziest things tweeting on the service included a bed, office chair and a bathroom scale. But there’s also a New York L train rat, a house cat named Sockington and a common squirrel, among other creatures using Twitter.

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