Has Twitter gone mainstream?

From humble beginnings only three years ago the short messaging, social networking service known as Twitter has exploded onto the Internet to become one of the hottest online applications. Originally the love child of tech geeks, it initially took off at South By South West Interactive Festival, Twitter may have just gone mainstream judging by the amount of traditional media coverage it has recently attracted.

The New Year has seen a myriad of Twitter stories in the mainstream media and an explosion of users.

During the Australian Open Tennis tournament the Sydney Morning Herald ran a lead story online regarding the Twitter coverage of the heatwave conditions.

A few days later news.com.au ran a lead piece on Australia’s most interesting Twitter users.

Coverage of the New York plane crash into the Hudson River included many references to the Twitter reports  and photos being loaded onto Twitter.

News.com.au also urged readers to follow the horrific Victorian bush fires on Twitter.

In fact news.com.au seems to have gone Twitter-mad with a plethora of stories recently including Twitter ‘influence’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘interesting’.

Not to be outdone, smh.com.au has been filing it’s own barrage of Twitter themed pieces including this on February 12, Join the Twitterati.

Hi profile Twitter users are also garnering attention and bringing Twitter closer to the mainstream. The Twitterverse can now follow the public utterances of:

Stephen Fry

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Kevin Rudd

Malcolm Turnbull

Ashton Kutcher

Demi Moore

Britney Spears

Lance Armstrong

John Cleese

Al Gore

….and many more

Certainly we are seeing an influx of MSM journalists on Twitter, looking for contacts and stories.

The explosion of Twitter coverage, both in Australia and overseas, is matched by the skyrocketing use of the service. Compete.com has released the latest numbers on US social media usage from January and Twitter has been the big mover jumping 19 places to be the third most used social media application behind Facebook and MySpace. Twitter had over 54 million “monthly visits” in January. This number is likely understated due to the number of third party applications that can be used to access Twitter.

The large amount of mainstream media coverage in recent times suggests that these numbers could climb even more rapidly.

The big questions now may be, will widespread acceptance be good for Twitter, or will it drive away many of the early adopters? Will Twitter be a shooting star, the big thing for a couple of years, before fading away?

4 Responses to “Has Twitter gone mainstream?”

Twitter has a few of things going for it to keep it going in terms of longevity: it can be many different networks at once, opt in and open API. Its not just one type of person/interest on Twitter, it can be many things to most people. Opt in means you can unfollow other Twitter users when they annoy you or your tastes change. The Twitter API has enabled the explosion of clients, enhancements and add ons to the basic service. Finally – you get out of Twitter what you put in, long term relationship building requires time, so those bandwagon jumpers seeking a quick fix will be disappointed in the and will prob leave. Which leaves the core Twitter users using it as they do now.

Comment by Tiphereth on February 13th, 2009

“Certainly we are seeing an influx of MSM journalists on Twitter, looking for contacts and stories.”

Yes we are. But here is the problem as I see it. Just because the MSM (and us) sez it’s so, don’t make it so.

Teh kiddies appear to be quite happy with their Facebook and SMS.

The danger is that Twitter will become another echo chamber for them just as it has for other user groups who use Twitter.

The big complaint about the MSM is that there are too many journos who spend waaaaaay too much time referencing each other, and we see this amongst tecchies//SM evangelists too.

The press gallery is the biggest culprit in terms of journos referencing and speaking to one another.

So, unless they go about following the great unwashed instead of fame whoreing the Twitter elite – going mainstream isn’t gonna happen.

You have to walk it, not just talk it.

Comment by Philip Gomes on February 13th, 2009

Here’s a post from @dirkthecow which notes that UK usage is way up over the last few months driven by the flux of celebrities coming onto Twitter


It includes a great link to an article on The Register with this fabulous quote:

“Writing about Twitter is the journalistic equivalent of eating the fluff from your navel”

I think there’s something in both of those

Comment by Kate Richardson on February 15th, 2009

I’m still not so sure twitter has gone mainstream. About a week ago I overheard these 2 guys talking and 1 was showing the other a site he just found on his blackberry called Facebook.

It was so funny to hear this but it made me think that to a majority of the population facebook just went mainstream maybe a year ago or so.

Twitter and facebook are old news to me but I don’t think twitter has hit mainstream yet.

Comment by Jared O'Toole on February 15th, 2009

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