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10 Predictions

on the Future
of Twitter

By Karim Gargum - www.KarimGargum.com

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


Introduction
This report contains 10 predictions on the potential future
development of Twitter. Remember though, itʼs just my
opinion, I might be wrong but I hope youʼll find my views in -
teresting in any case.

1) Twitter as a
Search Engine
As more and more users sign up to Twitter, the signal-to-
noise ratio is dropping. Increasingly the only way users will
be able to find useful information will be with Twitterʼs
search tool.

In an apparent realisation of this need to ʻfilterʼ Twitter con-


tent, the micro-blogging service has been developing and
enhancing itʼs search feature, bringing it to the main
Twitter.com website where previously it was only available
at www.search.twitter.com.

Over time this ʻsearchʼ aspect of Twitter will gain promi-


nence and where-as the user interaction with Twitter now
starts with the creation of a ʻTweetʼ, in the future a fat
search box might replace the current status update form
field as the intended first point of interaction with the site.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


In addition to this, real time search engines like
http://www.scoopler.com have already cropped up and are
heavily leveraging the real-time search capabilities of Twit-
ter and other social media websites.

2) Twitter to Menace Google


Itʼs hard to imagine that any challengers could threaten
Google, and even Twitter is a mere tadpole compared to
the mighty Google. However, at Googleʼs recent ʻSear-
chologyʼ event, real-time search was listed as the number
one challenge facing the search goliath. Twitter has a con-
crete advantage here, with results that are human-filtered
and almost real time. Instead of directly attacking Google
head on with a copy-cat search tool, Twitter search offers
an adjacent and often more compelling search experience.

With news, blog posts, blog comments and user generated


content being constantly uploaded to the net, a search tool
that focuses on sifting through this content and bringing
users relevant and timely results has a lot of potential.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


3) Twitter Influence Gap to
Widen
With the number of celebrities flocking to Twitter, the gap
between an average Twitter user and the ʻTwitterattiʼ (Twit-
ter users with huge followings) is growing wider and wider.
Statistics from Twitter itself have shown that increasingly
large number of users who join the service are abandoning
due to their inability to effectively leverage the tool.

The user-base could also become split into three general


groups of users:

• Sifters or Searchers - they use Twitter primarily for


news/info gathering. They likely see little point to ʻTweet-
ingʼ are are akin to ʻlurkersʼ on online forums and blogs.

• Broadcasters - Twitter users with huge followings that


arenʼt expected or are unable to interact with their follow -
ers. They use Twitter more as a one way medium.

• Cat Bloggers - People who will continue to Tweet about


the inane day to day events of their lives perhaps relying
on a group of ʻreal worldʼ friends amongst their followers

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


4) Rise of Automation
As the ʻTwitterattiʼ gain increasingly huge audiences the
strain of updating their Twitter profiles will most likely drive
them to use a selection of 3rd party tools based on Twit-
terʼs API. Tools such as ʻTweetLaterʼ ʻTwitterFeedʼ and
ʻTwallowʼ can automate messages to new followers, gen-
erate Twitter stream contact and even automatically follow
users that are interested in your particular area of exper-
tise.

The rise in the use of these Automated tools diminishes


the level of genuine human interaction on Twitter, one of
the original main attractions of the service.

To add insult to injury, some extremely popular Twitter us-


ers also employ ʻGhostʼ twitterers to update their profiles
for them, further distancing their audience.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


5) Twitter as a News Power-
house
One of the fastest, most comprehensive, most accurate
sources of breaking news recently has been twitter. It has
proved itself consistently as an excellent news source. Not
only do all the major international news outlets and pub-
lishers reference their latest items on twitter, Citizen Jour-
nalism has been given a tremendous boost from Twitter.

Accounts from Twitter users caught up in plane crashes,


terror attacks and natural disasters have revolutionised the
way we are made aware of international events, dissolving
the typical distance and lack of emotion epitomised by
conventional newscasts.

How twitter will take advantage of this will be interesting,


itʼs a great case of technology evolving in ways perhaps
not predicted by its creators.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


6) Twitter ʻGated Communi-
tiesʼ
Thanks to intensive media attention, huge amounts of new
users have been pouring into Twitter. Anecdotally, it seems
the general sentiment among the original generation of
Twitter users is that twitter has lost itʼs cozy, small-town
vibe. This might lead Twitter to enable users to establish
ʻgated communitiesʼ.

Just as some users now can secure their updates, it could


be possible for Twitter to develop functionality that would
enable a group of Twitter users to set up a community of
Twitterers that require registration to access their collective
updates. One example of this is www.twittermoms.com.

This massive influx of Twitter users and reduction of quality


content might also lead other companies to develop niche-
based Twitter clones. Technologically this would be rela-
tively straight forward. In fact some sites like LinkedIn
would probably be very well places to launch a service
along these lines considering they have already estab-
lished a relatively transparent and authentic network of us-
ers.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


7) Twitter to Fracture
As mentioned above, Twitter has the potential to be used
in various different ways. This presents a wide range of
challenging strategic options for the companyʼs future de -
velopment. Itʼs feasible that Twitter could fracture out into
various sub-services, e.g Search and News.

This isnʼt that surprising when we look at Twitter as a pro-


tocol through which many types of information can be de-
livered effectively. For example www.stocktwits.com uses
the Twitter platform to deliver and aggregate investment re-
lated information. Similar services for news, entertainment
and sports are equally feasible and probably in existence
already.

This strength of Twitter, is also a vulnerability. Other online


sites can quite easily replicate the ʻmicro-bloggingʼ func -
tionality of the site. Recently, Google Readerʼs addition of
comments has highlighted this, the development of a fam-
ily of Twitter powered services could help stave off these
competitors.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


8) Powered By Twitter
The number of Twitter tools and add-ons is huge and grow-
ing almost exponentially. Services such as those men-
tioned above www.stocktwits.com, www.twittermoms.com
and Microsoftʼs www.exectweets.com will most likely pave
the way for other prominent companies to develop and de-
ploying Twitter powered websites and online services in
the future.

9) Twitter Pro
There have been many rumours regarding the introduction
of a Twitter Pro account, the likely features of which remain
elusive, but itʼs certain that issues like security, automation,
better user/follower interaction and Twitter activity statistics
will be high on the list.

Creating a pro class of users might limit opportunities for


amateur Twitter users to build larger followings, with users
of the future perceiving ʻproʼ users as more reliable
sources of content. This is comparable to Googleʼs trend in
recent years to up-weight content from better established
brands.

Creating a Twitter pro user group will also provide a robust


business model allowing Twitter to expand and develop its
infrastructure hopefully limiting the intermittent but annoy-
ing downtime it currently suffers from.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.


10) Beyond 140 Characters
Itʼs possible that Twitter might break this key element of its
DNA, the 140 character limit on user updates. If we look at
services like www.twitpic.com as well as the amount of
videos and other rich-media that users currently link to, it
might serve Twitterʼs interest to start allowing the integra-
tion of these types of content directly into Twitter. This
could potentially open up opportunities to compete with
Flickr and Youtube.

Twitter is really just a protocol as it currently stands. But


itʼs a powerful one. If searching text strings of 140 charac -
ters in near real-time is interesting, accessing video/photo
and even map locations could be even more interesting.
Just as Google expanded from search to a family of com-
plimentary products, there could be scope for Twitter to
leverage their ʻsocial engineʼ to create a range of compli -
mentary online services. An email tool with a 140 character
limit anyone?

Ok, so these are so there you have it, 10 potential future


trends for the worldʼs favourite micro-blogging tool. If you
have any ideas or feedback (maybe Iʼve completely lost
the plot with my predictions) please hit me up on Twitter
youʼll find me at www.Twitter.com/@Kazimor.

Copyright © 2009 Karim Gargum. All rights reserved.