Twitter’s secret: the law of unintended consequences
How 'tweet nothings' became a $250 million cultural phenomenon
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But Twitter now has “morphed” into something with real value and utility, says Mr. Fraser, coauthor of “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work, and World.”Skip to next paragraph
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More and more Twitterers share useful information, in essence giving the “headline” and sometimes sharing a web link that points to more information, says Fraser, the former editor in chief of Canada’s national daily newspaper, the National Post.
Growing chorus of tweeters
Twitter’s mushrooming growth has observers wondering if it could possibly be the next online phenomenon. The service is starting to grow beyond geeks and early adopters and beginning “to hit the mainstream,” says Louis Gray, a technology blogger in Silicon Valley.
The service has attracted 4 million to 5 million users, 70 percent of whom joined in 2008, calculates a recent report from HubSpot.com, which analyzes business activity on the Web. An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 new Twitter accounts are opened each day, and traffic to the site grew by more than 600 percent in the most recent 12-month period HubSpot measured.
Last month, Twitter passed Digg.com, a successful, established news aggregation website, in market share of visitors, says Heather Dougherty, research director for Hitwise, an Internet measurement and analysis firm. And Twitter is “probably much bigger” than the Hitwise statistics show, she says, because much of Twitter’s traffic flows through mobile devices or other third-party software that isn’t being captured in Hitwise’s data.
But where’s the business plan?
Facebook, the popular social networking site, tried and failed to buy Twitter for a deal some valued at a half-billion dollars. Like Facebook, Twitter has yet to make a penny for its founders. It’s living on money from investors. According to the website Techcrunch, a recent infusion of more than $20 million in venture funds would mean that Twitter has, in theory, a value of $250 million.
But that’s only if a way to make it pay for itself can be found. “We plan to build Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company,” the company website says. “Twitter has many appealing opportunities for generating revenue but we are holding off on implementation for now because we don’t want to distract ourselves from the more important work at hand, which is to create a compelling service and great user experience for millions of people around the world.”