Jumping the shark. Risky, dangerous and often fatal. The question is…can Twitter gracefully jump the shark and survive?
I have love this idea of jumping the shark. It is such an interesting phenomenon – one which doesn’t happen that often. I didn’t know much about where the term came from so I did a little research (god love Wikipedia.) The term was born from a 1977 Happy Days episode where The Fonz jumps a shark wearing swim trunks and his trademark leather jacket. If your shaking your head, your not alone. It makes no sense what so ever and appears that the producer was just grasping for material. Ends up that it was a pivotal episode and the producer, Garry Marshall, later admitted that “that he knew the show had lost something as the crew prepared to shoot the scene.” The show went on to produce another 100 episodes but things were never quite the same as those early Fonzerelli days.
Think about all the shows that you once loved that eventually died a slow death – plot lines thin out, bizarre characters are introduced and the quality of the show plummets. This sad but true happening transcends TV into our everyday lives. In my opinion, Starbucks (tho I love it so) has jumped the shark. Quality is not consistent and they’re everywhere. Used to be I’d literally walk a mile for a perfect non-fat latte. Now, I walk across the street and hope I get the “good latte” barista. As it relates to technology, who can forget the PDA – come on, you had one of these right? Oh, the little stylus and all my contacts in one place but holy crap. They completely missed the boat and got lost in the innovation of the smart phone. My kids now pay with mine and pretend it’s a Blackberry:) And who can forget the Walkman. Man, I thought I was so cool walking around holding my Walkman listening to my 80’s mix tape. Then along comes an MP3 player and out goes my Walkman with the trash.
So, now let’s talk about Twitter. I set up my Twitter account, thanks to the early-adopteritis of my friend Natty B, back in the Fall of 2007. I had no idea what Twitter was, checked it out and said to Nathan: “Who really cares what I’m eating for lunch??” Seriously, I just didn’t get it. But, I am social media girl and decided to give it a whirl. Put up my first tweet and was off following the few people I knew had any clue what Twitter was. I think I had a few handfuls of followers and the conversation was, for the most part, interesting. Lots of social media tips, ideas, news flashes, personal updates – I was in the groove. Then Twitter exploded with the digerati and the music set at SXSW in early 2008. My CEO started tweeting, we set up a corporate account and all my colleagues at matchmine (RIP) got in the groove too. It started to become useful in keeping up with people, getting interesting news and facts and learning more about how people think.
Fast forward to today, April 17, 2008. Some call it “Twitter’s big day.” Ashton Kutcher is on Oprah and is announced as the first “mainstream” user with over 1MM followers. Let’s just stop here – since when is Ashton mainstream? He is not a normal person on Twitter. He is a celebrity. Two very different things. And 1MM followers. BFD. How many does he know personally? I bet 4 – Ryan Seacrest, Oprah, Demi and Oprah’s dog.
Now let’s talk about the Oprah-effect. She can, in one show, make something jump the shark. I have to give it to her – that is some power, girlfriend. She has Twitter CEO, Evan Williams, on the show along with Ashton and BAM, in one day, I got about 50 new followers – 90% of which are, I hate to say it, total crap. I don’t have time to get to know these people and, quite frankly, I have nothing in common with any of them. Do I really care about some lady who likes to knit and is from Nebraska or some former weightlifer-turn-personal trainer who can pump me up? Does that make me a Twitter snob? Maybe. I find myself saying: “Remember when Twitter was…” It must be like the first person to have any of the deadpool devices listed above. Were they so over their Walkman when everyone had one? You betchya. That’s the way this whole thing works. The question now is what happens to Twitter? Can they jump the shark or is it so over? I have another theory on this but I’ll save it for a future post.
In the meantime, what’s your take…has Twitter jumped the shark or do they still have their Fonzarelli mojo?