February 17, 2011 04:01 PM ET
Twitter's success will all boil down to revenue, and long term interest. It has a threatened revenue stream of tools that make it an ecosystem for marketers, factored in with an annual cost of over 20 million. Increase in marketing spam = drop in users = drop in advertising revenue = headed to the Fail Boards with Myspace, hotornot.com and Napster.
It's not likely that Twitter will ever be able to produce an exact traffic figure since their traffic comes from all over the place. Twitter traffic numbers have major caveats due to the fact that an overwhelming majority of Twitter's traffic isn't even happening at Twitter at all. Instead, it's coming from API calls - a system for their partners to send a search to Twitter to retreive the info back to their site or service.
ComScore typically doesn't even include these types of queries. They focus exclusively on traffic that happens on the actual site.
A staggering amount of those API requests are coming from Twitter clients, mainly TweetDeck and Seesmic.
Twitter's cofounder Ev Williams says Twitter does 600 million queries per day. Here's how Twitter compares to major search engines according to ComScore figures from December of 2009:
Twitter hopefuls claim API requests is potential money in the bank, but that simply does not translate into lead conversions, which is what advertisers are looking for. How can Twitter grow their advertising revenue if 75% of their requests (not traffic) is coming from other websites? Remember, advertising revenue is likely their only revenue stream. When advertisers don't see the numbers they were hoping for, you can expect to see the Twitter investor money start to evaporate.
A staggering 75% of Twitter's traffic comes from outside of Twitter, which means only 3,250,000 of Twitter's monthly users had original intent on visiting Twitter.com in the first place. The rest are using 3rd party apps, services and other websites that have the Twitter API built into it.
Nielsen stated that most users are tempted by Twitter’s novelty, then lose interest and never come back. This contributes to their "high rate of unique visits". History will show you, a vast majority of online properties that shift focus to accommodate a much needed revenue stream (to keep those angel investors happy), typically go into free fall mode almost overnight. Again, think Napster, AOL, HotorNot, Myspace, Digg.com, Yahoo! 360, Yahoo! Delicious.
All the talk about Twitter lends to people's curiosity, then they realize it's inferior to Facebook in all ways.
Twitter doesn't solve any real world problems for anyone. Take a look at Facebook, It keeps you connected with those you want to stay connected with; you can "see and read" what they have been up to. What does Twitter do different? It adds no value to our social lives.
The majority of Twitter is littered with "Social Media" artists who are either working for someone, or have figured out how to make themselves seem popular by "collecting friends". Obviously, it is a lot of work to grow your followers on Twitter, but at what cost? People with thousands of followers typically have done a lot of "following" themselves to get that big "followers" number on their profile. Now, what was their intention in doing this? Are they trying to increase traffic to their websites? Are they wanting you to buy their products? Little of what you see is legit. Simply put, it is a system that has been gamed to the max.
To be concise:
One of the biggest problems with Twitter is the fact that people tweet pointless things all the time. If you are following 10 people, and all ten of those people tweet 3 times a day, then you will be faced with sifting through 30 tweets to find anything interesting. Can you imagine if you followed 200 friends? Who has time to read through this, and who would want to if they did?
Twitter was most likely intended for people to share "cool stuff" and update people on what you're up to. The problem is that a large majority of the tweets is just shameless self promotion. It's just people promoting their crap; even your own friends. Have you ever looked at what people are Tweeting about? It's mostly crap.
The common courtesy on Twitter is, Follow me, and I'll follow you back. Here's the breakdown
This is not what a true "follower" would do. Ever. Can you imagine Michael Jordan following you on Twitter in hopes of you following him back? Do you think he would ever read anything you Tweet? Do you think he cares about any one particular person that follows him? It's absurd.
Ask yourself a few questions. Why should I use Twitter? Is Twitter worth the time? Can I make money with Twitter? Do people care what I Tweet about? What is the point of Twitter? How can I track Twitter? How do you know if your efforts are bringing in value to your followers? How do you know if you're actually getting any quality leads or traffic from Twitter? Let's just say that most people can not answer even a third of these questions. Even the acclaimed top SEO agencies have no idea what they are doing on Twitter. They have clients who want to grow their Twitter base, and don't even know why, or what to do with them once it starts growing.
Twitter is a waste of time and money for a large percentage of companies and people out there. If you can't create a business plan around Twitter, then don't bother with it; unless you're into popularity contests. For most people, that's about all it good for in 2011.
And to conclude, follow me on Twitter, but I doubt I'll ever read your Tweets, or post very often. Maybe once every 3 months. At least I'm honest.
I'm calling it right now in 2011. Twitter Acquisition, or Sayonara Twitter in 3 years. The Social Media world is fickle and will eat them alive. Digg.com is a prime example; desperately seeking a buyout, and they don't have the cash.
Signing Off - Joe Taylor