Like many social media evangelists, I’ve been delighted to see major corporate entities making an effort in the web 2.0 arena. Zappos and Comcast are on Twitter, interacting with their customers. Comcast also recently purchased Plaxo in order to add more social media elements to the Comcast customer “experience.”
There are new examples nearly every day of new ways that companies are finding to reach their customers, and as a result social media is getting a lot of mainstream attention. Heck, Twitter was even profiled in a recent Business Week article.
The somewhat cynical side of me, however, is beginning to wonder…Will social media ultimately have a positive impact on business, or will business and all the mainstream attention ultimately have a negative impact on social media?
Or…am I an early adopter snob?
I have several friends who proudly identify as “music snobs,” and I frequently make fun of them for their abject dedication to bands that no one has ever heard of before and their snooty dismissal of mainstream, Top 40 pop. I always joke that if more than three people started following their favorite bands, they suddenly wouldn’t like them as much. I didn’t understand how they felt until last week.
On last week’s Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast with Jason Falls, my colleague Jennifer Zingsheim jokingly chastised my somewhat dismayed reaction at the idea that Twitter could one day grow as large as Facebook, as was intimated in Business Week. The article speculated that Twitter appeared poised to compete with MySpace and Facebook as a social networking force to be reckoned with. I wondered out loud if millions of new users might negatively impact the site in some way; Jen though I might have a touch of “early adopters syndrome.”
Is it snobbery, or is it a valid concern? Sure, the team behind Twitter will likely be able to adjust and keep up with a rapid expansion of the user base, and hopefully we’d see a downturn in the frequency of outages and other bugs (sometimes referred to as “Twiccups” by the users). But what would happen if Twitter got too big–would it become the indie-label band that gets signed by Sony and then starts producing crappy albums?
Three Things I Don’t Want to See Happen if Twitter “Makes it Big”:
1) Ads – I know, I know. They need to find some way to monetize this thing, don’t they? But does it have to be ads? These are some smart, creative minds behind this site, surely they can come up with something else. Jason suggested on the Roundtable that he might even be willing to pay for a “premium” version of Twitter. Is that an answer?
2) Complex new features – Twitter is brilliant because of its simplicity. 140 characters. No hyperlinks. No muddled, busy, profile pages. No sparkly graphics or distracting animation. No video, no music, no nothing–just you, and 140 characters.
3) Pitching, or Other Spammyness – Of course, not all PR pitches are spam. And befriending someone on Twitter is actually a terrific way to start a relationship wherein you could pitch without it being spammy. That being said, I would rue the day I checked my DMs or @ reply page to find dozens of unsolicited pitches, no matter how proud I would be that they managed to limit them to 140 characters. Twitter is for relationships, take your spam elsewhere.
Am I overreacting? Would nothing change if Twitter were to explode? Here’s hoping, because this early adopter snob likes her Twitter the way it is. Geeky, out of the mainstream, and full of bugs! (Okay, maybe not that last part…)