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08/11/2009 The End of the Beginning for Twitter?

Robert Scoble had an interesting comment on yesterday's blog. Once you get through his bluster, he seems like a guy dealing with an out of control monster, i.e. his Twitter followers. In trying to do the right thing for everyone, the whole Twitter experience became unworkable.

Maybe it's time to put in some limits to Twitter. On the upper scale, these would only apply to a few, but in doing so, Twitter might be able to make its tool more manageable
  • Set the Free Twitter limit of followers and people you can follow to 5,000 (or 10,000 or 1,000) - Limiting who you're following is easy. Limiting and changing who's following you would be harder. But they're clever guys at Twitter. One of the interesting things that might happen here is that have to refresh followers and follows regularly. This might be a good thing, forcing Twitterers to make new contacts, and listen to new people, continually.
  • Make people pay, for various levels of followers (25K, 50K, 100K) - This might be an acceptable business model for Twitter and would work for those who need big followers (brands or social media superstars). It would hurt spammers and some big swinging Tweets who have big followings but no biz model. Twitter would have to build some type of spam filters if they're going to make people pay, so that they don't run into Scoble-type issues.

Look at the top 100 on Twitterholic.com. They are all (pretty much) celebs or businesses. All of them can afford to pay for their following. There's almost no one on that top list you'd have any type of personal relationship with.

Of course, as soon as you limit who can follow you, it starts feeling more like Facebook, i.e. not a good thing.

It seems like we're starting to see the end of the beginning for Twitter. When it's top social media evangelists can't use it, there's trouble. Of course, I think it's worthwhile to think of this is a small or medium connection place rather than a big one. And I think when you take the auto-follow out of the equation, there's still a question of how many people you can manage (See Armano's 50-50 Rule post).

But something's got to give, when top social media evangelists start complaining about having too many people to deal with. It's kind of sad, actually. This has been a fun year on Twitter, the wild west of online.


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