A week or so ago, I wrote a post looking at whether the shine was going to come off Twitter soon, and how it appeared that Twitter fatigue was creeping into the scene.
Recently, there have been some articles and blog posts about how anything and everything Twitter is over-reported – another sign that people are tiring of the Twitter story, if not Twitter itself.
Robert Scoble steps into the fray with a solid post about how he believes Twitter is under-hyped, and that it’s just starting to to scratch its potential as a valuable communications, business and marketing tool.
“I’m now convinced that Twitter has locked up a whole raft of businesses and that Twitter is actually worth five to 10 billion dollars,” he says.
Personally, I don’t think Twitter is under-hyped or over-hyped.
Instead, Twitter is just misunderstand – at least for now. Here’s why:
1. The 140-character (or less) limit seems like a restriction to many people. In fact, it’s a way of forcing companies and businesses to get to the point. You have to deliver the message quickly and succinctly without frills or hyperbole.
2. The fact it’s free and shows no signs of having a business model has likely caused many people to think Twitter is just SMS for older people, while teenagers use Facebook and text-messaging.
3. The ROI on Twitter is different from traditional ROI metrics within the marketing and advertising markets where the bottom line is higher sales.
With Twitter, you’re penalized if you blatantly try to sell because Twitter is a conversation medium, not a sales medium. On Twitter, you’re looking to build new and stronger relationships, which could lead to a more enhanced brand, word of mouth and, hopefully, higher sales.
4. Twitter is a platform so it’s a mistake to just focus Twitter itself as opposed to the ecosystem of third-party services built on the Twitter API. In fact, I would argue that the third-party services are far more interesting than Twitter, which continues to be a no-frills service.
5. While high-profile marketers such as Dell, Zappos, Comcast and Ford have embraced Twitter, and received a lot of attention for doing it, the vast majority of companies are still on the sidelines trying to figure out what it’s all about. In time, many of these companies will get Twitter, which will bolster Twitter’s role and value as a marketing and communications platform.
6. Twitter is still new and shiny, and growing like a weed so it’s attracting a lot of attention. In some respects, the tsunami of media and blog coverage has made it challenging for people to get Twitter because there’s just so much information being thrown at them. When the hype disappears, it could become easier for people to get their heads around Twitter the service.
7. From a public relations perspective, Twitter has taken a shotgun approach with its founder – Biz Stone, Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey – doing a flurry of interviews as the mainstream media tries to tell the Twitter story.
In some ways, this has confused many people because there seems to be a new story (e.g. Twitter will never charge people to use the service; Twitter will charge business users; Twitter doesn’t want advertising; Twitter wants advertising, etc.). This has made it hard to get a handle on what Twitter is going to do when it grows up.
7. It’s still early days for Twitter. It’s really only been a year since Twitter has seen strong growth – a report by Sysomos shows that 73% of Twitter users have joined this year. Like many companies and communications mediums, it will change, evolve and improve.
So, what do you think? Is Twitter over-hyped? Is it under-hyped as Scoble contends? Or it is misunderstood?
More: Ken Camp has a good post addressing each of Scoble’s points about Twitter on his blog, Stardust Global Ventures.