Barriers to Becoming a Twitter User

I had an interesting conversation with my brother the other day when he asked me, “So what is Twitter all about?” Just to give you a little background, he is a pretty tech-savvy person in his early-mid 20s. After telling him what it was “all about”, he proceeded to tell me that some of his friends were starting to use it, but he wasn’t going to because he feels like to become a user, you first need to know a lot of people who are already well-established in the Twitterverse. His statement got me to thinking, and I feel like he had hit on something that could prove problematic for the people at Twitter.

Yes, since SXSW 2007 Twitter has gained immense popularity among the internet and web 2.0 crowd, but it is just beginning to trickle into the mainstream’s vocabulary. The problem that I see is that if you are not interested in what’s going on in the technology world, or you’re not interested in listening to the “Twitter Mavens” (@Scobleizer, @TechCrunch, etc), then there really is no reason to be using the service.

I (grudgingly) started using Twitter in September for my Business 2.0 class at Quinnipiac University because it was how the professor took attendance (thanks @mikegermano). At first I found the tool to be useless … An online attempt at the AIM away message. But as I started to gain interest in the internet industry, I began following more and more people and learning about what others had to say. It has also proven to be a useful tool for blogging, as it gives me a new way to let my followers know about new posts.

But the problem remains that people who are not yet users will be afraid to try it out because nobody wants to be “that guy” following 4 people with 2 followers. Where’s the fun in that? And if you don’t want to be that person, but still want to Twitter, it takes a confident person to reach out and follow 50 or 100 people that you don’t know. Only time will tell whether or not Twitter will really go mainstream.

Do you think it is hard for someone who is “unconnected” to become a regular Twitter user? Let me know!

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