Does Twitter Need to Grow to be More Disruptive?
The past week there has been a great deal of talk about Twitter’s growth slowdown in May. There are many explanations given for this, the best being that many users have moved to platforms such as Tweetdeck, thus analytics from Compete and its ilk are at best incomplete. Howard Lindzon, doesn’t buy that Twitter is at a top, and sees this as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to engage users. I would tend to agree.
While many argue why Twitter stopped growing, or if Twitter stopped growing, I will posit the following questions: Does Twitter need to grow at such a rate to continue to be disruptive? And, hasn’t Twitter already arrived?
Look at Twitter’s big brother, blogging. Back in 2004, it was reported that about 7% of the population while 58% read blogs. I would expect those numbers to be a little bit higher today (but not all that much). Nobody will argue that blogging hasn’t radically changed the landscape, even at such a low participation rate. This is because, while a minority of people create the content, a majority of people consume it. There are only a certain cross section of people who are “bloggers” by nature, but a much greater crossection who are readers. This is human nature and will not change. Thus, it doesn’t come as any surprise that there are more lurkers than active users. The fact that Twitter is following the same distribution as blogging should come at no surprise, and if blogging was disruptive, Twitter will be too. In fact, it already is.
Is growth for growth’s sake a good thing anyways? The more noise on Twitter, the less useful it is to those that want to use it. Not to mention that it is already having a tough time scaling, as image of the “Fail Whale” is all too familiar to the Tweeple. As I pointed out yesterday, without any real plan to monetize, the marginal user can get costly, and growing for growth’s sake could devalue the entire platform. That’s I agree with Eric Jackson when he says that Twitter must innnovate, not just grow.
From here on out, the “growth” for Twitter will be in its application and use, and its appeal to the general populace from the point of view of consumption, not simply participation.