Twitter had an amazing run ever since the hype picked momentum in late 2008. The first half of 2009 witnessed the twitter traffic growing five fold but the story seems to be reversing since August where it has started showing slow decline in terms of traffic.
The compete profile of twitter.com shows a 2% decline (Nielsen and MarketingVox reports 27% decline!) of traffic in October whereas the trend has flattened out since June itself. This is not a good sign at all as majority of the leading social networks (except Orkut, may be) are still keeping their traffic growth in the positive zone.
The current state of twitter traffic (compete profile and Alexa page views profile) actually depicts the typical Jim Collins s-curve at its ‘Grasping for Salvation’ stage where most companies – after scaling high – prepare for the inevitable (Read: How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins). I am not saying that twitter is any mighty house yet but it can become a mere mite if something is not done about it soon enough.
A lot of twitter fans believe that, unlike facebook or myspace, the traffic profiles do not convey much since majority of the twitter traffic comes from twitter client. There’s no base to this theory as twitter clients existed and were really popular even before September or October. Moreover, there has not been any revolutionary client in the past two months that took away all the traffic from twitter.com website. And the increase in twitter directories and retweet widgets should have actually driven more traffic to twitter home.
SocNets applications are a lifestyle thing while the social networking as a concept will become more and more popular. If you have a social networking product and if you don’t continuously evolve the same at the pace at which people expect it, they will just dump it. Basically there is no particular patronage attached to it unless you provide good value addition and overall packaging of feature (photos, status updates, games, surveys, collaboration, third party application integration etc). Twitter doesn’t boast any of these and its inherent limitations might as well become the cause of its downfall.
If you carefully analyze the traffic to twitter.com, you will see that the interest in twitter actually declined since facebook introduced status updates that you can reply to. This actually made more people stick to facebook and even shift to completely. Another important aspect is that most of the referral traffic to twitter is actually coming from facebook and hence most people have integrated their tweets to facebook. Moving to facebook completely may be the the natural next step.
The inconsistent messages on monetizing twitter has not actually done any good to the overall cause. At the moment they are contemplating corporate twitter accounts and that may be the last experiment as well.
Overall, I have nothing personal against the twitter technology nor do I have anything against those who positively benefited from twitter. This is my second (negative) post on twitter in two weeks because I am still thinking what kind of value proposition it can come up with to make people stick to it for some more time.
Happy Tweeting (if you love it, that is)!