To Twitter or Not to Twitter?

    October 15, 2007

Jeremiah Owyang posted yesterday on the value of Twitter. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve been using Twitter more each week, it’s become a great way to communicate and learn about others. Why do I like Twitter but don’t use instant messaging? Because Twitter respects my time, I don’t have to respond to individuals if I don’t want to, and I can communicate to many people (over 1000 are following me) at any given time. I’ve really started to incorporate this tool into my communication mix…

I’m not convinced yet. I still tell marketers this is something they don’t need to worry about yet, even if it’s worth briefly understanding before they move onto the next thing. Here’s the response I posted on his blog. What’s your take?

I’m still not sold on it. One of the problem with micromedia is the superfragmentation. Jeremiah, you’re one of my favorite bloggers, but I don’t have time to follow you everywhere you are. I also don’t have time to communicate everything I want on email and on my blog and on Twitter and on Jaiku and Facebook and dopplr and a bunch of those sites Allen mentioned. Yet I do appreciate the value of being everywhere, creating this pervasive brand presence online, which is why I syndicate my blog feed to Twitter and a bunch of other sites.

At what point do we finally peak and have some universal social media dashboard? Here’s what I need: a simple interface where I can just tag the content with what it is and it goes up to those spots. An event appears on Facebook and Upcoming, with my travel schedule posting to dopplr, a blog post appears on my blog with a snippet on Jaiku and Twitter, etc. If it really works how I want it to, it’s integrated with my address book so that when I post a message about an event that’s occurring in a certain city, I can also quickly look up which of my contacts live there and then email the update to them as well. That helps with the posting, but then a similar service will have to help with managing reading all of it. The Facebook news feed comes closest, but it only highlights some of the updates even from people I want to follow closely.

Meanwhile, Twitter has two other problems: Most people don’t use it well (posting pointless personal updates like they’re napping or eating Cheerios), diluting the value of it for those trying to follow more substantive updates; and the network effect hasn’t taken hold, with a few early adopters using it but without significant traction outside of it.

Here’s the question I can’t quite figure out: why should the non-Jeremiahs of the world use Twitter?