Twitter at the peak of the hype cycle

Neville has a good post taking a brief but insightful look at Twitter's current popularity, charting it against Gartner's famous Hype Cycle.

Twitter HC

Neville writes that Twitter is currently perched atop the initial Peak of Inflated Expectations and quotes Gartner's Mark Raskino who argues that if we take micro-blogging as an abstract technology its current mass popularity lies in the fact that it's a tool which helps journalists (and bloggers) do their job and is thus gaining significant media attention.

I would add to this and suggest that the journalist example is one half of Twitter's popularity. Once the media write about Twitter, their audiences sign up and find that as well as being a useful tool for journalists it's also a useful for them. In fact it's a damn useful tool for just about anyone. Thus the inflation continues.

Neville also reinforces this point with a quote from Don Dodge who suggests that the power of Twitter lies not in the technology, but in the people (which is something I've been saying for a while):

"Social networks are all about connecting people and letting them communicate. It is the power of the network…not the technology."

Neville ends his post with the (perhaps leading) question:

"How quickly will it slide down into and then out of the trough of disillusionment?"

I believe the answer to this question is: quicker than we think.

As Twitter gains popularity via the dual drivers of mainstream media coverage and amazing public utility it becomes a ripe target for spammers, shysters, snakeoil salesmen, etc.

Sure this has always been the case with any product, tool or service but key to twitter is the realtime, network effect conditions under which it operates.

If people love Twitter for it's live connection with friends and colleagues then they'll hate it for the speed and ease with which spammers and shysters can invade their lives.

It's already happening: first there were fake, spammy accounts following you automatically and now I and others are complaining of receiving direct messages from spammy, fake accounts without even following them.

And maybe this is the real driver of innovation or the migration to new social media platforms. Friend Feed is growing nicely but maybe it's not going to gain critical mass until Twitter is clogged up with spam – or indeed, mired in the Trough of Disillusionment.

Tags: Twitter, Neville Hobson, Gartner, Hype Cycle, Friend Feed


  1. interesting blog, nice info, thanks

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