First it was blogs. In the world of small business, people started going nuts over blogs a couple of years ago.
Business owners and entrepreneurs and those who work in small businesses found the benefits of blogs enticing. Who could resist the allure? We entrepreneurs discovered that blogs gave us self-publishing that was almost as easy as creating a Word document; a do-it-yourself way to improve your search engine position; and a way to connect with customers and prospects more authentically in a marketing-saturated world.
And small businesses continue to discover the joys of blogging — and I don’t expect that to stop soon.
In fact, blogging has jumped past the early adopters, and now is mainstream. Heck, we no longer consider blogs remarkable the way we once did. For instance, we no longer even bother to count blogs obsessively the way we used to, marveling at the market growth.
Blogs are now accepted.
But a funny thing happens as technology goes mainstream. The early adopters, bored and restless, move on to something else.
Last year I interviewed Sam Harrelson, a noted online marketer, who pointed out the trend toward microblogging. Speaking about what to expect in the future, he said: “Attention spans will get smaller in size. People will want smaller bits of information … in micro-chunks they can quickly consume.”
A telling sign was when the entrepreneur who helped bring blogs to the mainstream, Evan Williams, creator of Blogger.com, developed a new tool. The new tool is Twitter.com, which is one of the hottest new social media sites.
Twitter is an example of how shortening attention spans and our desire for small bits of information translate into an online community. In Twitter, you send messages of up to 140 characters over the Web or a mobile phone or mobile device. That’s about one long-ish sentence, or two shorter ones. Here’s an example of a Twitter message:
Your messages are broadcast into a public feed where they can be read by others. People write little snippets about what they are doing in their personal lives and in their business lives. It’s all quick and short, a little like a stream of consciousness.
Sound boring and banal? Sometimes. But the spontaneity of Twitter and the ability to connect directly with people on a personal level — giving richer dimension to your business contacts as human beings — is what makes it so attractive. It’s fascinating and sucks people in — before you know it, you too could become a Twitterholic.
Of course, as we move to shorter and shorter messages with ever greater spontaneity, the question becomes “what’s next?” Five word updates? Audio-only updates? Thirty-second film clips of what we’re doing at the moment?
Your guess is as good as mine.