A recent article for the Harvard Business Review has analysed a shift in the way that Twitter users are behaving. It concludes that where the platform was initially designed to empower users from across the world to contribute their own unique content, the proliferation of celebrities and international brands using the platform has caused Twitter to become much more like a mainstream media channel. Social media is changing.
In 2011 Twitter described their service in this way:
“Twitter is a real-time information network powered by people all around the world that lets you share and discover what’s happening now”
This is the real heartbeat of social; by people, for people. Twitter’s popularity is due in part to the enjoyment we derive from sharing content, however personal or irreverent, and participating in a global information network. However, social media is changing. Twitter now describe their service in this way:
“The fastest, simplest way to stay close to everything you care about”
This clearly demonstrates how Twitter has changed from 2011 to 2013. There has been a shift in emphasis from contributing to consuming. The HBR discussion highlights how this is essentially a move from new media (alternative, live, grass roots) to traditional media (corporate, mediated, accessible). With Twitter due to go to initial public offering – and conservative evaluations weighing in at $10billion – this is a significant shift. The very thing that made social media popular is quickly evaporating, prompting ongoing questions about its place in the world. Social media is changing.
Social Media is Changing for Business
What does all this mean then for local businesses? Is it time to hang up the social media boots and focus on other strategies?
Twitter might have experienced a shift in emphasis, with many users consuming content rather than creating it, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t huge opportunities for businesses.
In fact, it’s good news. If some Twitter users are looking to consume content – and others are simply looking to gather a reasonable following – then by producing something original you’re increasingly likely to stand out from the crowd.
Furthermore, the ‘commercialisation’ of Twitter means that more people are turning to Twitter to consume information from mainstream media channels. This increases the credibility of social media and validates your contribution.
It’s really not surprising that Twitter is changing. It’s how you respond that matters