Twitter's celebrity appeal: Growth model or downward spiral?

Summary:At least Ev and Biz got their 15 minutes of fame, right? Remember Tom from MySpace? No, me neither. But at least he's rich.

I can't say it any better than ZDNet editor Larry Dignan said it this morning:

While I started to roll my eyes at the Twitter hype when I first saw it mentioned on The Daily 10 (yes, a sometimes guilty pleasure), the annoyance reached an all-time high yesterday when Oprah joined Twitter and Ashton Kutcher conducted a race for charity against CNN to reach 1 million followers. The question is, should I be annoyed? Or am I a bitter early adopter who doesn't like that her favorite toy has gone mainstream? (I get this way about bands, too.)

The thing is, I know I'm not alone. I re-tweeted Dignan's post to my network and many folks had the same perception. One follower made a comment that the beauty of Twitter is that you can choose who to follow and who to unfollow. Sure, but the problem with Twitter is that if your friends fall victim to the vapid celebrity hype that you have to see them talk to them (unless, of course, you choose to not view @ messages friends send to folks you're not following, thereby further diminishing Twitter's value).

Furthermore, is this celebrity excitement going to drive away B2Bs wanting to leverage it for customer support, or marketing, or sales, etc.? On one hand that would be silly. More celebrity watchers = more users = more opportunities for businesses, sure. I know we snobby enterprise people would like to think the celebrity watchers are going to be more consumer-focused buyers but people these days wear a lot of hats (hence my comment about The Daily 10).

On the other hand, however, it was when MySpace started to get its bling-faced, security-hole brand that B2Bs and folks with the deeper pockets started to abandon the site. Oh, and in this case, celebrity hype is bling, though at this rate it's possible that sparkly hearts and butterflies may not be far off for some celebrity-obsessed users.

Sure, MySpace has been able to monetize and even got itself acquired, but Twitter doesn't have a monetization model. A business model. Twitter doesn't really make any money. (Yes, I said this three different ways). Is it possible that it's future business plan is going to go the MySpace route and try to appeal to consumer advertisers and produce paid chats with celebrities? Or will it be able to avoid the downward hype spiral curse of MySpace and move itself into a more respected CRM-type tool that Jeremiah Owyang and others have predicted? I'm not sure that it can do both. The two types of brands just don't reconcile.

At least Ev and Biz got their 15 minutes of fame, right? Remember Tom from MySpace? No, me neither. But at least he's rich.

To end on a light note, here's an exceptionally funny comic from my friend Guhmshoo:

See you on Twitter. I'll be the one avoiding the celebrities.

Note: Neither Biz Stone nor Evan Williams responded to requests for comment.

Topics: Browser, E-Commerce, Social Enterprise

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