Have you ever been to a party when someone tells a joke, and as the punch line is delivered, everyone seems to laugh but you? It’s not that you didn’t hear the words or follow the storyline of the joke, but you just didn’t get it. But to be cool, you play along by throwing out a courtesy laugh and hoping like hell nobody asks you to explain the joke to them, because, deep inside, you know you didn't get it. So you make a mental note and remember the joke, perhaps to review it the next day in hopes of “getting” it. Yet, days, weeks and perhaps months go by, and you still don’t get it.
That sort of feeling haunts me now when I think about Twitter. I have two Twitter accounts. I’ve posted stuff on them, and I’ve actually managed to get some legitimate followers besides those wanting to peddle porn. I’ve also “followed” other people’s tweets, just to see what they had for breakfast. Yawn.
And still, I don’t get it.
Some companies keep Twitter accounts just to keep you updated on their latest activities. They try to stuff tiny URL addresses and a few memorable words into a limited 140 character "tweet" in a blind belief that it actually brings in more business. Here’s the conundrum, however: If someone is actually able to click on the tiny URL with a browser, then why in hell would he go to a place where he’s limited to 140 characters? Why not go to the company website where he can get the whole multimedia experience?
In an innovation whose significance rivals that of the inflatable dart board, some genius figured out how to put the 140 character "tweets" into SMS messages that can be sent to mobile phones. Companies can therefore use tweets to keep mobile subscribers updated on activities. Presumably, people who receive these SMS messages will anxiously rush to the company website when they get their hands on a browser. But where's the logic in that? Why go through Twitter at all? It's an unnecessary step when content can be pushed directly to SMS. For that matter, why not use RSS to push content?That's what RSS was designed for, and better yet, RSS is not limited to 140 characters!
Bottom line: Twitter is a passing fad. People jump on the wagon because everyone else is jumping on it, and they figure there must be something magical about it. After all, the “everyone else is doing it” argument is a successful marketing ploy that’s been used for centuries. Eventually, however, people begin to wise up. It may take years, but eventually everyone will realize that the wagon is just going around in circles, being pulled by an old, tired donkey. Something else will come along, and wham! The fad will disappear into a footnote faster than you can tweet about it.
That’s my theory anyway.