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Twitter: Passing Fad or Here to Stay?

By Pete Krainik
CEO of The CMO Club

At every CMO Club dinner this year, the conversation always finds its way to this question. Is Twitter here to stay or a short-term fad? Here are some of the reactions from CMOs:

  • Twitter isn't like other applications that come and go. Twitter is the "pipe" for short, real-time communications for many users. Most pipes last, while applications come and go.
  • The real value of Twitter is not talking, but listening. It's a 24/7 pipe of non-stop communications about your brand, your service, your customers' interests, etc. Any tool that provides 24/7 customer conversations will stay.
  • Like any media or community with growing numbers, spamming becomes the downside. The only thing that will kill Twitter is abuse by spammers. Keeping it pure will be critical for long-term success.
  • One of the biggest issues with new community platforms is their never-ending desire to provide everything to everyone. LinkedIn and Facebook continue to add functionality and look to steal the good things from other communities. If Twitter gets caught up into that mode, or if Facebook tries to move into Twitter's space, the future becomes more unclear. The Twitter functionality is here to stay—who delivers it is less clear in the long term.

In summary, the CMOs in the CMO Club feel Twitter, as the pipe and a great listening tool, is here to stay. The things that could kill Twitter are spammers and the never-ending desire to be all things to all people.

Twitter: Passing Fad or Here to Stay?

By Hollis Thomases
Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day

I've been in online marketing for about 12 years now. During that time, there were many prognostications that haven't come true: e-mail is dead, SEO is dead, the banner is dead... heck, the Internet is dead! Now we're hearing things like "newspapers are dead" and "postal mail is dead." Why does everyone have to predict so much doom and gloom? (I know, sensationalism sells.)

Ironically, none of these mediums or tactics is dead. Though attention may have shifted to other areas, useful mediums have a tough time completely dying on the vine. And that's the point: if there's use and value to a medium, it will stick around even if it's not the darling it once was.

Twitter may have the makings of a passing fad, but I don't think it's going to suffer a death anytime soon. Twitter has value. Twitter is useful. Twitter helps people connect. Twitter can convey real-time information quickly. Twitter has a low barrier to entry and an incredible ease of use. Twitter can be omnipresent: on your computer screen, cell phone, smartphone, television, and even projected at a conference or in a classroom. Twitter's O-AUTH access allows developers and ordinary Joes to integrate Twitter and Twitter data in more ways than imaginable. All of this has value. And with inklings of data mining to come, I don't even think we've realized the full potential of Twitter potency yet.

No, I think Twitter is here to stay.

Twitter: Passing Fad or Here to Stay?

By Patrick Strother
Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota

I don’t think Twitter is a passing fad. Some recent negative data, such as the very limited use of Twitter by most users, is not that unusual but rather an interesting example of Pareto's Law of the Vital Few, where a small percentage of users (17% on Twitter) comprise most of the activity.

Twitter is also a bit long in the tooth to be considered a fad. It was launched publicly in July 2006 and has migrated through an intense, compressed digital product life cycle as the hockey stick-shaped graph of its cumulative user growth from January 2007 to December 2009 shows. It may have experienced a short phase as a craze when its growth peaked in July 2009, but since then, it has continued to grow at 80 percent of the peak pace.

This excellent RJMetrics study revealed that at year-end 2009, Twitter had more than 75 million user accounts. The current monthly rate of new user accounts is 6.2 million (or two to three per second), 20 percent less than the peak growth in July 2009 but still impressive.

There are about 15 million people who are active, regular users of Twitter. Despite the hype and unsustainable levels of growth that Twitter experienced in mid-2009, having 15 million loyal, regular users seems more of an established trend than a fad.

It may take on a new form someday, but I believe Twitter is here to stay.

Pete Krainik

Pete Kranik is the founder and Chairman of The CMO Club. He has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, product management, sales, and IT in the high-tech, software, and consumer goods industries. Prior to forming The CMO Club, Pete served as Avaya's Global Vice President of Marketing, the Chief Marketing Officer for DoubleClick, and the GM of the Consumer Goods Division of Siebel Systems. Prior to Siebel, he spent 15 years at Mars, Inc.

Hollis Thomases

Hollis Thomases is the author of the new book, Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day. She is an accomplished public speaker and a contributing columnist for ClickZ. Hollis was named the 2007 SBA Maryland Small Business Person of the Year, 2008 Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine, and recently made the Baltimore Business Journal's List of Baltimore's Top 50 Women-Owned Businesses.

Patrick Strother

Patrick Strother is a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. He is also the Principal at Strother Communications Group (SCG). Patrick is a thought leader in the integration of research, branding, public relations, advertising, social media, and direct marketing. He created the proprietary "Converging on Customers" model to help guide SCG in the long term.