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To Twitter or not to Twitter?: The Perils of Micromedia

Update: If you're new to this post, be sure to read the comments thread. It's an amazing discussion. I'm still not convinced Twitter's worth the time investment for most people, but there are some great examples of ways that it could make an impact for some. Oh, and since I didn't mention it earlier, follow me on Twitter and I'll follow you too - though no promises that I'll be reading the feed that often.

Update 2: Apparently there are a lot of people who care about what you're eating for breakfast, so while I still could do without them, you Cheerio Twitterers, tweet away!

Update 3: Thanks, Jeremiah, for sharing this in Twitter - and sharing the feedback. It's fun biting the hand that feeds me (traffic, not Cheerios), since my blog traffic is well above average today, and the comment volume's through the roof. But I also find it ironic that the way to get this surge in traffic is to talk about Twitter, which is inherently so insular. It's like that Gapingvoid cartoon where one guy says, "We have nothing to say," and the other goes, "Quick! Let's talk about blogs!" Replace "blogs" with "Twitter."

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?

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