A Twitter Warning

There’s no bigger “media darling” in business today than Twitter.  Just about every national outlet has profiled its youthful founders and the company’s ironic rise to the fastest-growing site on the Internet.  Virtually every day, there’s some Twitter related story in the news, which always includes messaging about the site’s popularity.

Venture capitalists have poured tens of millions of dollars into the company, even with no publicly known stream of revenue.  Meanwhile, small business owners across the country struggle to receive even simple lines of credit from banks.

As we have written multiple times on this blog, we think Twitter offers great potential as an effective communications vehicle.  As a source for news and information, its immediacy and portability are impressive.  Our whole team is having a lot of fun with it.  But is Twitter growing too fast, too soon?

The site is frequently “down,” shutting its customers out because of overloaded traffic.  That could lead to serious revolt.  Remember America Online?  They were first-to-market with home Internet service. But when they grew too fast, leaving customers with busy signals instead of service, they were dubbed “America Off Line” with customers fleeing in droves for more reliable options.  If Twitter doesn’t keep up with its demand – and fast – customers will find other ways to communicate.

With a staff reportedly of 30-some employees, is it too small to provide service when issues arise?  Based on our experience, so far, the answer is “yes.”  Again, AOL encountered those same issues about ten years ago, hastening its demise as the top brand in its class.

If Twitter doesn’t take steps now to improve reliability and service, they’ll move very quickly from a trend to a fad and from a headline to a punchline.