In a world that is fueled by junk food, throw away Ikea furniture and bad celebrity gossip culture is it really a surprise that the internet acts as a microcosm for today’s disposable society?
As my job entails not only researching the latest web trends, but also attempting to understand them, I spend a hell of a lot of time examining what is going on online. Having given the last 12+ years to this industry I like to think of myself as a bit of a veteran and somewhat capable of giving an opinion or two about what trends are occurring.
This brings me to the point of this post…
I am always amazed with the fact that most of the world seem to suffer from amnesia. This is a human trait that seems to apply to any number of circumstances from war to websites.
That might sound a bit extreme, but let’s all take a look at the history of social networks (this is by no means a comprehensive list of all social networks, rather an overview).
First there were bulletin boards -> AOL -> Classmates.com -> Friendster -> MySpace -> Facebook. And the latest darling? Twitter.
Why is it that the media makes Twitter the darlings of their eye? It is as if no one can recall their previous relationships with all the aforementioned sites. They only have eyes for Twitter. It is all quite reminiscent of new love euphoria / lust.
Why is it that the media seem to be blinded to the fact that Twitter has essentially built its growth in the same way that MySpace gained popularity?
Celebrity culture meets the frontline consumer.
MySpace = I can be friends with Blink 182!
Twitter = I can get messages from Ashton Kutcher in realtime. He’s my friend and says such profound things.
All of the growth is fed by a paprazzi meet Britney breakdown culture of fans on Ritalin for attention deficit disorder (or multi-tasker). And now poor MySpace is struggling to exist with the onslaught of Facebook and Twitter.
Remember people, we live in a disposable society. This applies to everything – iPhone apps to Internet companies.
Users are fickle. Choices abound. The cost to switch is low. Customer loyalty? Nil.
My advice for Twitter?
Enjoy your moment in the spotlight (you should hopefully be done feeling superior already because arrogance is definitely a company killer), then move your asses quickly. Figure out how to delight and engage your users. Figure out what is going to make them stay. Make a product that is not only fun, but useful and meaningful for my life in a way that I might actually want to pay for it. And most importantly, learn not only from your own mistakes, but from the mistakes of those past.
In the words of someone far more insightful than myself – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana