Is Twitter Overrated?

Twitter isn’t in the Oxford English Dictionary yet, but more than 4 million people have added it to their vocabularies and use its 140 character posts to answer the question “What are you doing?”

Inventing new words may be part of the game with Twitter, as people have adopted a whole new language. Twitter people are Tweeple. A Twitter meetup is a Tweetup. And on and on.

InTwigued? To put Twitter’s 4 million users in perspective, when Facebook was getting similar attention, its ranks numbered 24 million. So is Twitter overrated or as valuable as its fans claim? And will it be around long enough to make it worth our time?

Time is one feature that Twitter boasts. It offers users real time connection, an instant, short glimpse into all the moments between emails and blog posts. Friends could find these momentary updates useful when we’re looking to join the party or running late for lunch, and businesses are beginning to employ Twitter marketing to announce short-term specials, like the deal of the day. Twitter even scooped more traditional media with first news and instant updates of recent earthquakes, rocket attacks, and plane crashes. We all hope catastrophes are few are far between. So do the many people or businesses who have news that’s noteworthy enough to fill the moments between blog posts and e-blasts.

For many, Twitter is truly like a micro-blog, like using only the status section of Facebook. Fans say this feature inspires conversation and connections. It can also provide the curious spark that drives “followers” to blog posts, Facebook pages, and more in-depth web presences. When Barack Obama used Twitter during his presidential campaign, some argued that his tweets got followers to visit more than just web sites. Either way, the voters visited the polls.

And while Twitter users may number just a fraction of other online social networks’ crowds, Facebook did float a $500 million stock offer to bring Twitter into its realm. That’s 500 million reasons that Facebook thinks Twitter will stay and grow.

Several Twitterers we know admit to feeling like they were in their own foggy Twitter bubble (Twubble?) when they first joined the network. John H. suggested new users should be warned with a disclaimer, something like, “Warning: During your first 30 days of using Twitter, you will have no idea what the heck is going on. Only after 30 days will you begin to understand its value.”

Several other users confessed to giving up within those first 30 days after tiring of the useless updates and the time wasted. It seems most of us are Twittering and following tweets to be part of the experiment, to learn to tailor the Twitterers we follow to accomplish our own information goals and to enjoy the simplicity of short, quick updates.

So is Twitter overrated? Our opinion is no, it’s got nowhere to go but up. But maybe you think differently. Is Twitter is an endangered species under the pressure of larger social networks? Leave your comments (even with more than 140 characters).

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    1. Totally over-rated, though useful tool. I think part of the reason for the buzz is that it is very useful for media types…but most people don’t have much use for Twitter.

    2. Personally, I don’t like using Twitter. The tooling is primative, and the short messages bug me. That said, a number of the blogger and people I follow are starting to use Twitter, and I need to use whatever communication mechanism they are using. I have also noticed that a good amount of postings (of people I follow as opposed to at a macro level) have shifted off of blogs to Twitter.

      Steve Shu’s last blog post..A Damning Exhibit Concerning MBAs and Business Schools

    3. Paul Lorinczi says:

      I think it is too soon to tell, but indications show that it can be a pretty powerful tool.

      We monitor and know that we get 4% click through rates on links. Can’t say the same for some Google Ad campaigns.

      Another thing, it does mimic our ADD Mobile Society. As more and more people start using mobile devices, micro-blogging will only grow.

      Paul Lorinczi’s last blog post..What is social media networking?

    4. It seems that Twitter has a hurdle ahead of it. Most of the traffic currently on Twitter seems to fall into 4 categories: Twitter self-referencing hype, personal news, advertising and traditional news. This may work for now, but when the hype and constant micro-blogging begin to dim, we’re left with only a small portion of Twitter users being effective or interesting. If the users on Twitter can help it evolve into something other than a hype-machine, I’m afraid it will go the way of MySpace. If they can transform it into a useful connection/promotional tool with long-term value it may go the way of Facebook.

      So, to answer the question I think it’s currently overrated because most people aren’t using it for anything worth the hype. It’s also underrated because of the potential as a communications tool.

      Josh’s last blog post..Wacom. Oh. Em. Gee.