At the start of the new decade, many are questioning what lies ahead for social media networking sites. Twitter remains the target of skeptics who point to stagnant membership and mock the micro-blogging mecca. Simultaneously, tweeters and commentators have come to the site’s defense, alleging Twitter is here to stay.
Skeptics point to mediocre 2009 in numbers
While the latest social media network reported a small bump in membership in December, its end of the year numbers were a staggering 24% less than June 2009. Ironically, while Twitter was featured more and more frequently in cable news broadcasts – and stood at the center of the Iran election coverage in June – the network hemorrhaged members. Twitter’s growth problem has thus become a billion dollar question: how can the social network grow? Some analysts are pointing to the immeasurability of new Twitter members, as an increasing proportion of members are tweeting from mobile devices and via apps, which were not captured in the statistics. Others claim Twitter has not yet reached a critical mass, like Facebook already has, encouraging potential members to join to keep track of everyone else they know.
Twitter makes sharing information simple
Yet, Twitter remains extremely popular and has been put to great use recently in light of the earthquake in Haiti, as tweeters are sharing thoughts, needs, websites for charity, and prayers through the social network. New York Times media reporter, David Carr, remains optimistic about the future of Twitter. In his article titled “Why Twitter Will Endure,” Carr argues that Twitter allows for the consumption of a massive array of information. Yes, people tweet about their choice of cereal, but they are also sharing news articles, videos, blogs, and discussion boards where responses are not limited to 140 characters or less. As Steven Johnson, another journalist and technology commentator for TIME, observes, “the history of the Internet suggests that there have been cool Web sites that go in and out of fashion and then there have been open standards that become plumbing. Twitter is looking more and more like plumbing, and plumbing is eternal.”