Recently, Twitter co-Founder Evan Williams predicted that “Normal” people will be on Twitter in 5years and one can safely assume that he’s referring to adoption by the mainstream masses.
Wikipedia defines mainstream as,
Mainstream is, generally, the common current of thought of the majority.
While the most common definition via Google is,
…the prevailing current of thought
There’s no doubt that by any definition, Twitter isn’t mainstream just yet. Yes, there are plenty of celebrities on Twitter, which means the masses will follow. However, the folks claiming that Twitter is already mainstream are making a big assumption, that the total potential for Twitter is just 8million people. According to Quantcast, the figure is around 6.1million in the US, which is a far cry from a majority.
It’s not surprising that many folks who claim Twitter has gone mainstream are the same folks who are heavily involved in social media and have convinced themselves “everyone” is on Twitter. Thanks to tweeting politicians, actors, and late night show hosts, the site has enjoyed phenomenal growth, but it still has ways to go before it can be called a mainstream channel.
Here’s are 4 clues that will tell us when Twitter has hit mainstream:
Using Twitter doesn’t equal innovation: It’s pathetic how anything and everything done in the name of social media and Twitter seems to pass for innovation these days. The Skittles story highlights how the medium trumps the message when it comes to Twitter. The company managed to create buzz with the asinine use of unfiltered content from Twitter, which also included accusations from a Tweeple about their “inhumane tests on animals”. Whether they created or added any value to their customers is anyone’s guess but one thing is clear, that anything using Twitter has the ability to create buzz because it’s not yet commonly used by the mainstream.
Twittering politicians no longer make headlines:If it really were mainstream, we would get used to it and not get our knickers in a twist every time it’s used by someone in Washington or Hollywood. Yay, Ashton Kutcher knows how to use Twitter, big whoop! When’s the last time we were so excited about some celebrity being able to send and receive email? It’s still a big deal if you *get* Twitter and if it was the “common current of thought”, would it really be all interesting?!
Hype will be replaced with significant, meaningful numbers: Everyone goes into a massive frenzy, when anyone makes any money off Twitter, no matter how insignificant the amount. Take the example of Dell. Venturebeat reported that Dell claims to have made $1million on Twitter. Yippee! But what does it really mean for a company with over $60Billion in revenue? Not that much. Once Twitter hits mainstream, we’ll start looking at real numbers put in the right context not just hyped numbers meant to justify use of Twitter.
Lastly, no more speculation on whether Twitter has gone mainstream: If Twitter were mainstream, we wouldn’t be having discussions and debates on whether it has hit mainstream and whether folks using Twitter are “normal”. Every day there’s a new discussion underway about how Twitter has gone to the dogs…er..the masses, etc. Once Twitter gets to mass adoption, we’ll probably won’t see any more complains from the innovators/early adopters because by that time, they should’ve moved on to the next big thing/site.
Bottom line: The day Twitter stops being a “phenomenon” is the day we’ll know it has hit mainstream. Doesn’t mean that going mainstream is a good thing or a bad thing, but rather just that it’s part of the natural evolution for any product/site and we just need to deal with it.