Friday, June 19, 2009

Sta-twistics: Has Twitter grown too much , too fast?

With a reported year-over-year growth of 1,382%, Twitter may be getting too big for its proverbial britches.

One problem caused by such phenomenal growth is that the functionality of the site frequently falters because it is overburdened. The famed Fail Whale (the mascot for the Twitter error page) makes an appearance with such regularity that you can now purchase Fail Whale t-shirts, coffee cups, and even onesies for your toddler.

While Twitter struggles with keeping up with the demands of its users, nearly an entire industry has sprung up around developing Twitter helper applications. One site lists the 100 most popular Twitter applications. Many of these applications - such as TweetDeck and HootSuite for example - are designed to help the user Tweet without even logging into their Twitter account.

At last report, Twitter founders were still seeking a viable revenue model, but with so many of their users casting absentee Tweets, options like banner advertising are looking less and less attractive.

In fact, according to Michael Shaffner at Forbes.com, in April of 2008, 56% of all Tweets were made directly from the Twitter interface. By June of 2009, that number had dropped to 24%. So while Twitter activity is burgeoning, actual instances of direct user interface are dwindling.

As we observe the Twitter struggle, we have to wonder whether the dilemma Twitter is facing - growing faster than it can manage, and with no concrete monetization model - is a microcosm of the entire trend toward social media.

Read Shaffner's analysis here.


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