The Real Value of Twitter: Three Predictions for 2012

People who enjoy micro-blogging on Twitter include a group I’ve already pretty clearly identified.

  • Computer Geeks
  • Marketing Types
  • Egomaniacs
  • Social Butterflies

(I’d include myself in all 4 to varying degrees.)  There’s a few others along the same lines.

Others will reluctantly sign on, because they feel they need to – for business or what not.  But there are a whole lot of other people in the world who will not use “Twitter” as we know it.  Not EVER.

Prediction #1 is that the actual percentage of broadband-capable, English-speaking people who actually “use” Twitter will probably land somewhere between 5% and 10% by 2012.  (More may sign up, but many will not “use” it, per se.)

Here’s where things get very interesting, though.

What Twitter has done is built a giant database of all the the thoughts and interests and passtimes of hundreds of thousands of people – a giant, freaky database of humanity.  Better still, they are recording history as it happens, and new data will continue to flow like a streaming river of collective human thought.

I think of the Star Trek borg “hive mind”, only in this case complete and utter chaos (as per every other aspect of humanity), instead of order and assimilation.

THIS is where Twitter gets exciting for me (not just because I love Star Trek), but because THIS is a goldmine of data, ready for churning and sifting.

And some people wonder how Twitter is going to make money.  Ya, right.

Prediction #2 is that most of the 90-95% of the world that won’t be using Twitter as we use it, will be using it indirectly, accidentally or unknowingly.  They will be using applications and websites that churn through the Twitter data stream of human gobbly-gook – without even knowing it.  This was the sort of thing I was thinking when I wrote the website (and I’m only just scraping the surface of the possibilities).

This data stream is powerful and valuable.  Twitter knows this.  Most people, even Twitter “power-users” haven’t quite realized this just yet, as they go about their day Tweeting stuff.  Assuming Twitter management are as smart as I think they are, the people at Twitter are not going to try making money from charging their users (like this hilarious notion that they would start charging for corporate accounts).  Instead they will make money from the database they have created, and BUCKETS of it.

Prediction #3 is that whoever owns Twitter in 2012 will be making a hell of a lot more money than whoever owns FaceBook.

UPDATE: FaceBook announced twitter-style features on March 4th, 2009. This is a potential game changer and may destroy prediction number 3 in one swoop.

Disclaimer: most of my predictions about most things have been wrong. (But I still think I’m right about this stuff.)