#RIPforTwitter? Not so fast
- 01 August, 2011 22:00
There's been a lot of discussion lately about Google+ and why it will render Twitter obsolete. Technology and tech-culture writer Mike Elgan makes a good argument and suggests that "It's only a matter of time before Twitter becomes a ghost town."
Anything is possible when Google's in play, of course, but below are several reasons why Twitter may be just fine.
It's limiting: Twitter users play on Twitter for a reason. Limits foster creativity, and Twitter users like the 140-character limit and a network that's not littered with all manner of content. Google+ might be able to emulate this brevity, but it won't be innate to the offering in the same way it is on Twitter.
It's simple: Once you get used to Twitter, you don't need to spend a lot of time managing privacy filters and settings. It's mostly just tweeting and following. With Google+, there are circles, account settings and much more to manage. Kind of like that other big social network.
It's verified: Google+ might add an account verification feature, but Twitter already has one and is a known, heavily used quantity with higher ROI on a single unit of celebrity marketing effort. More than verified, it's a pre-established path. Not easy to break the habit.
It's anonymous: Even more important than verified accounts, Twitter supports anonymous accounts and lets users adopt any account name they want (provided it's available). Google is still wrestling with this question, and, in the words of company vice president Vic Gundotra, is "working on ways to handle pseudonyms." As long as Google+ "requires you to use the name that you commonly go by in daily life", this remains a huge value differentiator for Twitter.
It integrates: Unlike most social networks, Twitter integrates well with other social sites, including LinkedIn and Facebook, and represents one of the best cross-network pollinators we have today. For example, users can easily tune their Twitter posts to publish to their Facebook walls and LinkedIn profiles. Google+, for now at least, is a gated social community, and it's hard to conceive of Google or Facebook making it easy for their users to share content between the networks.
Others have tried to tumble it: While Google+ does far more than Tumblr, it's worth noting that the conceit of Tumblr was to add following to social streaming, similar to what's available in Google+. Needless to say, Tumblr hasn't eroded Twitter one bit, and it's possible that Google+ will have the same net effect.
It's mobile: All social networks have mobile apps now, but Twitter is ideal for mobile because it feels the most like texting. Today's teens (representing the next huge social networking demographic) typically send over 3,000 texts a month, according to Nielsen. They demand mobility.
It's David to Google's Goliath: Though not as big or as ubiquitous as Google, there's a certain nimble coolness to the Twitter brand that lends it sympathy. It's the social networking tool of choice for Lady Gaga and Iranian dissidents alike. This won't matter to all users, but there will always be a subset of technology users who prefer alternatives and will use Twitter just to remain contrarian to Google+ (and Facebook). Consider the dedicated and feverishly loyal Linux users.
Frank Gullo is an early internet veteran and co-founder of Social Media Club Buffalo and volunteers in his spare time as a firefighter and EMT. He tweets at @FrankGullo