April 15, 2009

To Twit(ter) or Not To Twit(ter) Part II

My first impression of TWITTER is not very positive as regular readers of this blog know. With 7 million users Twitter is not as big as Facebook that recently reached the 200 mil users but it is at the moment a hot item in the press and blogs. News about Twitter appear on daily basis expanding our knowledge on this phenomenon. To the surprise and maybe contrary to the popular wisdom Millennials are not the early adopters; according to a recent study of comScore Twitter seems to be more popular among older Internet users rather than the youth: Nielsen found also that "42% of the users are aged 35-49, while 20% were 25-34. Many (62%) of those across both the aforementioned age ranges used Twitter only while at work, perhaps indicating the tool is being used for business purposes. Thirty-five percent accessed Twitter from home only".
But this is not all the surprising news about Twitter: A recent report of O2 found that small businesses in the UK (17% of them already) are increasingly using Twitter it as part of their (internal) communication mix. Big businesses like Business Week are also jumping in the Twitter Bandwagon. Twitter is also quickly adopted by mainstream mass media like the CNN as a promotional tool. CNN has been even engaged in a competition with the actor Ashton Kutcher who will reach first the 1 mil followers on Twitter!! Mr. Kutcher has about a million "followers" in Twitter who obviously have nothing better to do than following what their idol is doing every moment of the day! Considering the zero cost of the medium not a bad deal at all.
There is already some more controversy: CNN informs us that scientists are already warning that "social-networking tools such as Twitter could numb our sense of morality and make us indifferent to human suffering". According to CNN "The report that will be published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition, studied how volunteers responded to real-life stories chosen to stimulate admiration for virtue or skill, or compassion for physical or social pain".
In short Twitter is becoming a controversial issue. One of my unanswered questions is whether the use of Twitter (mainly by the population segment - see above - that has so enthusiastically embraced it) could lead to productivity losses next to the loss of sense of morality as the above study suggests.
As I wrote in my previous blog I do not think that Twitter will be the new YouTube at least in its original form. What we see happening is that indeed it is increasingly used as a business communication medium rather than a personal communication tool informing people what their networked friends are doing every moment of the day (that most people would not like to know anyway). If Twitter goes to the commercial direction it has more chances to be successful. Let's wait and see.