After Twitter

Does Twitter=old

Last week we asked on Twitter, “what should we blog about next?”

Nathaniel answered: “What comes after Twitter?”

Good question! And one that’s puzzling quite a few people.

We have two answers:

1. The Direct Answer

Two years ago, when iJump started, Twitter was a sideline curiosity, but one that we could clearly see was going to be big.

Now, Twitter is big – it’s huge, if you go by the amount of public awareness and media coverage. So what’s next?

There are no obvious contenders, although FriendFeed was vaguely interesting until its recent purchase by Facebook.

Why Friendfeed? Because it offered two very important things:

  • the ability to filter the “noise” of everyone you know and group conversations
  • the ability to follow conversations more easily than on Twitter

With FriendFeed now becoming part of Facebook, it’s possible Facebook will continue to evolve and be the platform it can be. It’s already way bigger than Twitter, with around 250 million users compared with Twitter’s 6 million .

There are plenty of other Twitter-like candidates out there (like Plurk, Identi.ca and Jaiku), most of which had their moment in the sun last year, and yet couldn’t shake the seemingly irrational loyalty Twitter garnered by being first.

The issue? People want to be on a social media platform with other people they already know, even if there’s a better alternative.

Remember Virb? A few people wanted me to join them on Virb because it was much, much better designed than MySpace (this is going back a while for MySpace to even be part of the conversation). But nice as it was, not enough other people I knew used it.

Which brings us back to what’s next after Twitter?

There’s no longer room for a new single platform. Whatever is next will need to combine the information from multiple places, putting the user back in control of their own life.

Wherever we go, whether we’re talking to 19-year-olds or 48-year-olds, the need is the same – to make meaning out of the chaos.

On a big picture basis, this ties into the trends of Generation C and Service-Dominant Logic mentioned in my Otago Lecture earlier this year.

2. The real answer

The most important answer is … it doesn’t matter that much for most people.

Investment in social technology is not like investing in developing a website. It’s not a lot of money and infrastructure, it is a lot of time and relationship-building.

Emphasis on the relationships. There’s a clue here.

As a Twitter user, I have relationships ranging from very close  to “I barely know you” with about 5000 people. If Twitter falls down tomorrow, I know that the people I need to be connected with most are also connected with me, through Facebook, Friendfeed, LinkedIn … or through my email address book.

It’s about the people, not the technology. Build long-lasting, meaningful relationships with people across different platforms. Reduce your dependence on a single platform and get to know your community better.

How about you? What’s on your “after Twitter” list?

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