Archive for December, 2011


A Taxonomy of Tech Bloggers –Who Will Lead Beyond The Golden Age?

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In order to understand the movement in the ever-changing tech blog space, let’s dissect the market to identify trends.

Whether folks agreed or disagreed, the assertion that Tech Blogs are evolving from the Golden Era to the next, continues to resonate as a healthy discussion. I saw responses from many of the blog management teams (Techcrunch, Mashable, RWW, VentureBeat, BoingBoing, and more) both agreeing and disagreeing, as well as traditional journalists at Wired chiming in.

Recap: Four Trends Why Blogs Are Evolving Out of Golden Age
In the previous post, it was identified there are four distinct trends why tech blogs are changing:

  1. Corporate acquisitions stymie innovation.
  2. Tech blogs are experiencing major talent turnover.
  3. The audience needs have changed, they want: faster, smaller, and social.
  4. As space matures, business models solidify –giving room for new disruptors.

The Next Generation Blogs Will Have The Following Traits
Then, it was identified four future trends on what the next-generation blog will look like, in summary: 1) An opportunity for new stars to emerge, 2) Yet, the rise of personal brands will be harder, 3) New models to emerge, long form content not the only way, and finally 4) that a new mix of media will emerge.  To further the discussion on what these trends will mean to this industry, let’s explore even deeper to identify where we should expect to see innovation from.

A Taxonomy of Tech Bloggers
This classification will help to shape who are the players are who should defend, those that are on the fast move, and those that could clinch a new seat as an established tech blog.  To understand, let’s segment the market by class, Ill give examples, and explore at a high level their strengths and challenges.

Classification Example Strengths Challenges
Big Media Blogs These blogs have transcended others and have been acquired by traditional media companies: Techcrunch (AOL), Huffington Post (AOL), RWW (Say Media), Engadget (AOL), ZDNet (CBS) Access to new resources, funding for larger staff, and ability to tap into new revenue opportunities through existing advertising and distribution network of parent company. Will be challenged to quickly innovate, redesign, and hire top talent who may be seeking the upward moving startup lifestyle.
Established Blogs These blogs are dominant players in the space, and are either self-owned, or part of a blog network, among them includes: Mashable, Gizmodo (Gawker blog network), GigaOmVenturebeat, The Next Web (European base), BoingBoing, All Things Digital, (created in house at Dow Jones), Enterprise Irregulars Have solid coverage, strong editorial teams and processes and have established their business model. Some may be content to forge their own destiny and not exit, yet some may seek to be acquired and exit, They will constantly be threatened by the tier above them scooping them, and challengers below trying to out-manuveur them.
Challenger Blogs These players could quickly move into the Established category: The Verge (Vox Media) who left AOL’s Engadget’s to start this visually rich new site with high production video. These players have tried a new approach, and are seeking to gun at the Established by trying a new format, editorial process, and may have connections to scoop stories. While many root for the underdog, they may not have the resources the Established blog networks have, and will be forced to find inventive ways to get what they need, and Established blogs may not link to them.
Emerging Blogs Silicon Angle (by my former boss John Furrier), Kernel (launched earlier this month), Uncrunched (Former Techcrunch writers), and the rumored blog Sarah Lacy may be planning. These up-and-comers are the ones to watch. These folks will innovate, try new editorial approaches, formats, and providing storytelling styles.  In some cases, these blogs may find a niche and own it. While all team blogs started here, this segment likely has the most challenges: Struggle to get scoops, lack of resources, and fight for advertising revenues, and Established blogs may not link to them.
Career Individual Bloggers These individuals have learned to make blogging a career, and may be funded, sponsored, or work for a tech company, notable examples include: Chris Pirillo (multiple sponsors), Robert Scoble (Rackspace employee), Louis Gray (Google+), and many others. Autonomous and masters of their own destiny, they’re able to do their passion at blogging, while earning a living. Difficulty scaling a personal brand into a network, beholden to those that fund them, and difficulty in scooping stories from team blogs who may not link back.
Individual Bloggers Millions of talented bloggers (like you!) worldwide that chime in on topics related to personal technology, careers in tech, and the industry overall. Passion baby, Passion! What a great outlet to get your voice heard.  Most in this space started off here, or still maintain a personal blog. Will be challenged to directly monetize through traditional advertising, but often this medium is used for career growth, promotion of books and speaking, or access to events.  This crew is challenged to maintain their blog, while holding a full time job.

Be a Savvy Blog Reader:  Know How Hierarchy Dictates Behavior.
The behaviors of each tier of blog depends on where you are in the taxonomy.  For example, those at the top of taxonomy are in dominant positions and will to sustain that.  As such, they will: have higher quality production in content, ability to scoop stories, may not link to original sources, all in order to maintain their lead.  On the flip side, those on the bottom of the taxonomy will also have different behaviors: they may give their own editorial spin, find long tail specific stories that mainstream doesn’t pickup, and can give deeper coverage in interviews the top players will not.

Watch the Challengers and Emerging Blogs as Post-Golden Tech Blogs.
Who will emerge as a victor in the post-Golden Age?  The established will seek to keep the up and comer challengers down, as well as the Emerging category.  In particular, the Verge is demonstrating a new approach by a fresh visual layout, high production video, and an experienced editorial team with insider connections.  Secondly, the Emerging blogs continue to grow organically, or have carved a niche that will keep from growing into a mainstream tech blog. As players towards the bottom move up, we’ll see a new “Platinum Age” (Sarah Lacy term) of Tech Bloggers emerge.

Above all Else, Look for Passion.
One of the attractive aspects of this medium is how the individual writer brings forward their point of view, their personality, their opinion.  As such, this has made blogging hold our attention as the rules of traditional journalism have been challenged  Despite the business aspects of running either an individual blog, or a big media blog, we should always look, interesting content, unique points of view, and of course, passion.

I look forward to your thoughtful comments as our industry continues to mature.

End of an Era: The Golden Age of Tech Blogging is Over

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Update Dec 29: I posted a Taxonomy of Tech Bloggers in response to the growing conversation.

That’s right. We’re at the end of an important period. The tech blogosphere as we know it, is over.

Four Trends Show the End of this Era:
Like the film industry, the Golden Era is the emergence period, when fresh innovation in a new medium is born. New techniques, revolutionary content, and different business models emerge as innovators pioneer a new medium. I first had this discussion with Chris Saad, which triggered some thinking on my end. I asked some of the foremost tech bloggers of  their opinion, and found four clear trends on why the Golden Era of Tech Blogging is over, here’s what’s shaping this change:

Trend 1: Corporate acquisitions stymie innovation
Over the last few quarters, there’s been considerable acquisitions of organized blogs (which are more akin to news sites now-a-days), most notable, we’ve seen Techcrunch, who claimed annual revenues of about 10 mil a year, being acquired by AOL.  Yet these purchases are quite common, as AOL has acquired  Engadget in 2005, and also Huffington Post in 2011.  Just two weeks ago, another larger tech blog that has enterprise focus Read Write Web was just sold to Say Media.  What typically happens when these acquisitions happen? Often the star talent, or founding team is pressured out, takes a back seat while corporate business development teams match existing advertising inventory to a new found audience –forever changing the DNA of what created these startups. Lastly, acquisitions often force a conservative mindset over startups, because the purchase is focused on strengths of an asset, the mindset of ‘don’t break it’, keeps the culture to focus on the status quo. As acquisitions occur, innovation decreases.

Trend 2: Tech blogs are experiencing major talent turnover
Perhaps they were forced out, or maybe they saw the writing on the wall, but lately, we’ve seen a major change up in the all-star lineup of tech blogs. Just a few weeks before the acquisition of Read Write Web, the Senior Writer, Marshall Kirkpatrick separated ways (edit: he’s still writing at RWW, part time) now focused on building a product and company called Plexus Engine. Furthermore, Editor-at-Large of Mashable, Ben Parr separated ways from Mashable, yet continues to blog on his personal site. The most discussed exodus is a majority of the Techcrunch staff leaving, from founder Michael Arrington, CEO Heather Harde, top writer Sarah Lacy, and star journalist MG Siegler. Yet despite this loss, they acquired Eric Eldon, Josh Constine (both of Inside Facebook) and Sarah Perez (formerly of RWW) into the Techcrunch fold. Ben Parr himself listed out in greater detail all the people movements in the tech blogging space, there’s no doubt a shakeup occurring.  The talent shakeup is normal after several exits occur –with new stars moving on to new business models.

Trend 3: The audience needs have changed, they want: faster, smaller, and social
First of all, congrats if you’ve read this far! I’d assert you’re one of the few. I asked Ben Metcalfe (former MySpace and BBC) his opinion, and he says: “Attention is too fragmented now. There are just so many blogs/news websites/sources vying for your attention that you can’t read them all and build up the kind of relationship that you once could when the size of the universe was degrees of magnitude smaller.” As attention spans wane, readers want smaller, shorter bits of content, and this is why we’re seeing the growth in behaviors that social networks provide: commenting, sharing, images. I heard from Robert Scoble, who’s noticed a shift that, “…when I write something on Twitter,Facebook, Quora, or Google+ I get immediate feedback. I get thousands of views very quickly and get distribution through things like Google’s Currents or Flipboard readers. Blogging seems to have struggled in some of these areas.” As a result, content needs are smaller and shorter, as I’ve noted in the rise of inforgraphics. Even the content strategy of Mashable is changing, their new direction is more akin to digital lifestyle –not just social media.

Trend 4: As space matures, business models solidify –giving room for new disruptors
This is a normal business trend in any new industry: New entrants, formalization of a new business models, and a series of business exists. Unless these authors been able to make blogging part of their business model, sustaining blogging is a challenge. Yet, let’s look at the data, in Technorati’s state of the Blogosphere for 2011 they reported that despite bloggers are publishing more, “Overall, fewer bloggers reported this year that they are making a living via their blogs.” In fact, this maturation of the tech blogosphere is a aligned to a normal cycle of industry maturing, emergence, many fail, some develop disruptive business models, and some exit. I heard from father of the Social Media Club, Chris Heuer who told me that “Blogging, and Social Media broadly, is past adolescence and into young adulthood, maybe even getting ready to go off to college. Going by our early measure of where are we compared to the dotcom era, I’d say we are about 2000, but without the irrational exuberance.” I agree with Chris and to illustrate this point, I’ve noticed that long gone is the scrappy new media entrepreneurs like Arrington who built a decent sized empire, cashed out, and moved on to to a traditional industry like venture capital.


The Future: A New Era to Emerge
Tech blogging isn’t dying, it’s evolving. This is a normal part of any industry, and here’s what tech bloggers themselves told me:

An opportunity for new stars to emerge
Now, with the major talent turnover, there’s an opportunity for a new media model to emerge, and along with it new stars: “The tech journalism space has changed considerably in the last few months, but there are new stars that are taking up the roles that the old guard have left behind. The voices, opinions and personalities that define tech are changing. Perhaps fresh minds and ideas are exactly what the tech media world needs.”-Ben Parr

Yet, the rise of personal brands will be harder
Now that the ecosystem is entrenched with corporate owners and mature advertising programs, there will be less room for innovation and new stars to emerge.  Why? PR firms know who the established players are, and will continue forge alliances in page views for exclusives.  ”Take for example that many of the “big blogs” don’t even link to the primary sources of their posts because they don’t want to send the traffic off-site. How can anyone get discovered if those who have the attention won’t share it?”  -Ben Metcalfe

New models to emerge, long form content not the only way
Bloggers themselves know that relying on a single tool isn’t effective, they need a series of tools to use; “blogging isn’t dead. it may have gotten a LOT more social, and it may be less frequent now for those of us who also use twitter / facebook / tumbler / youtube for other distribution efforts, but the overall impact from these platforms together is BIGGER than ever before (and i maintain, also EASIER than ever before if you build it right).” -Dave McClure, who, on a related note, is also on a Blogging Hiatus.

Will mix new forms of media
Yet these top bloggers all agree that a new form of media mix will emerge; “Blogging isn’t dead and still a fantastic tool, there is room for new players and it’s still the best way to build your personal brand IMO. I’m actually planning to go back to blogging much more myself and just updated the template of loiclemeur.com. Also, what is blogging? Publishing a video with your thoughts on YouTube is blogging and that is extremely powerful, each time I do itI get a good audience, even if the video quality is crappy. A video can be much more like original blogging as you can take the time to express yourself in longer form.” -Loic Lemeur, tech blogger, entrepreneur, LeWeb host. Yet, he’s not the only one, Francine Hardaway, VC blogger says “Blogging is a tool, like social media. This year’s new tool will be personal video, which is long overdue.” who also nods to video usage.


Final Thoughts:
Despite the Golden Era of Tech blogging to be over, we should expect a new format, new type of content and new pioneers to emerge, forever changing the new media and tech reporting space. I for one, look forward to it and will embrace it, both out of necessity, and with passion.


Related Resources

Data: Composition of a Corporate Social Media Team

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How are today’s social media teams structured? Ever wonder who’s behind those corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts? Think there’s more to it than an intern just tweeting haphazardly?

This data, in the below graphic, is compiled from Altimeter’s recent survey to 144 global national corporations with over 1000 employees shows how today’s teams in 2011 are breaking down. This is the core team that operates the social media program within a corporation, often within corporate communications or a marketing function they will work with other business units. For very large corporations, they may be fragmented among many business units (the Dandelion model), and this data doesn’t even include agency, consultants, or even research firms who help out. Here’s what we found:

Screen shot 2011-12-22 at 8.11.57 AM

Finding: A Social Media Team Consists of Four Major Functions
While the team size may vary, it’s important to understand the components of a team.  Also, it’s key to look at the ratios between the groups, so companies can know how to plan and budget. Although you can learn more about the specific titles here, among the responses, we found a trend of four key groups, segmented by:

  1. Leadership Team: We found 1.5 folks are focused on leadership and vision, the most common title is the Corporate Social Strategist, and we published a research report discussing the aspirations and challenges of this Open Leader, and how they organize internally.  They are primarily focused on the overall program ROI, and are internally focused to drive business results. This role is a requirement, even if it’s a part time role.
  2. Business Unit Facing: Two folks are facing the business units (liason, education), and work inside of the company to help multiple business units from sales, support, products, field, execs get on board.  Often they can be segmented by region (like Sarah Goodall, SAPs EMEA social strategist) and even by product units. These roles are key for coordinated scale, once the center of excellence has been established
  3. Market-Facing: Three three community managers are facing customers, and serve as a go-between to balance the needs between customers and the corporation, I’ve written at length about these important professionals, see all tagged posts. These units are key for customer interaction, but in the end cannot scale and will shift to advocacy or enable customers to respond to each other.
  4. Program Management: We found 4.5 are in program management (developers, analytics) that keep the ship growing by running programs often at the corporate level like the social media managers, the analyst that’s conducting reporting and brand monitoring programs, and lastly the developer teams, which get systems to work. As a corporate resources serving spokes, these roles are key, esp as data needs to be aggregated for business intelligence.

Applying This Data To Your Program
Averages are helpful, but only if we can apply this to your business, and because it’s not easy to publish about all the variations, here’s how to apply it to your business: 

  • Company size changes team headcount –yet ratios likely stay same. This is an average, so the changes of you having exactly 11 folks is not likely, chances are your company is larger or smaller than this average –and your team size will vary.  In fact, this is often a cross-functional team, as a majority of companies are in the hub and spoke or dandelion models.   In fact, if your company is smaller, you may be wearing multiple hats –but we should expect the ratios of the roles to roughly average out, all things equal.
  • Mature programs shift to empowerment, changing team dynamic. We’ve sorted data by maturity in previous sample sizes, and know that in 2010 the team sizes were a little under 4 for novice, about 8 for intermediate, and could get up to 20 for mature programs, read the report on budgets and team sizes.  You should expect similar modeling to occur in all corporations.  Furthermore, we’ve seen trends that more advanced companies will have more business unit liasons to empower teams, and reduce their core community managers as the conversations move the edges of the company.
  • If these teams are successful, they fade into the background. In the future, these teams will likely shrink, or evolve into customer experience teams. Know that the corporate social strategist will work themselves out of a job.  Why?  Business units will be able to operate their own programs without excessive oversight, following program guidelines, and using pre0-set best practices and sanctioned software systems.  With that said, a core team will always be required, to coordinate the enterprise, but we predict this will evolve into a customer experience team (or back into the CX team)

Thanks to Christine Tran, Senior Researcher at Altimeter (and part-time tomato farmer) for work on surveying brands, analysis, and collating data for this graphic. If you’re in one of these teams, I would to hear from you, what your team size is, composition, in the comments below.

Update: Here’s a related graphic detailed the team roles and descriptions, all from the report on Social Business Readiness where the data above is from.

Average Composition of a Social Media Team

Community Management Education (and Certs) a Sound Investment –Yet Experience Trumps All

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For seasoned or budding community managers, investing in a solid foundation of learning through an education program and becoming certified is a good investment –yet don’t think classroom time is sufficient, as time and experience in the field is the most important.

A Need for Capable Community Managers on the Rise
If there’s one thing I’ve been learning in my research it’s that corporations need skilled staff to use new media tools. Enter the Community Manager, part customer advocate, part product manager, part host, who tirelessly deals with customers online. In fact, Altimeter’s research indicates that budgets increase significantly for social media boutiques, and digital agencies as corporations become more advanced. Despite the increase in adoption from corporations, they are often ill-staffed, or throw traditional communicators into a new media mix –with poor results. Furthermore, we’re seeing a rise in out-sourced community management services, which raised quite the online conversation.


[As the Social Business Space Emerges, Education and Certifications Will Emerge --Yet Be Sure to Balance Your Team with Education --and Real World Experience]


WOMMA and Friends Launch Community Certificate Program
To meet the needs listed above, a group of very talented and experienced community professionals have teamed up with Womma to launch a certificate program with Community Roundtable and ComBlu, to aid education and standards across the industry. I chatted with Rachel Happe of Community Roundtable to learn that their focus provides:

“Our training helps organizations in three specific ways:
-It sets common expectations for individuals and companies about what individuals should know at different levels.
-It ensures that individuals are introduced to the issues and concepts that they will face over time.
-It consolidates learning so that individuals can more quickly ramp up and become productive contributors.”

I also like how they segment their classes for different roles:  Community specialist, Community manager and the Community strategist. As this program grows it can certainly advance the industry, as well as the professionals involved in partaking in the offering.

Risks of Certs: Best Practices are Few and Far in Between
What’s one big challenge with certs?  It’s hard to define best practices in a nascent space that may be just as much art as it is science.  In fact, Dells’ Bill Johnston who’s leading their Community Strategy told me that “The inevitable downside will be a lack of standards. I’m assuming that every association or firm that is involved with social media / community will develop their own curriculum and standards” He also writes; “Further, certification without hands on training and mentoring is not going to help advance the practice of community management and development.”

Yet, Don’t Over Rely on Education –Real World Experience is Key
Like any trade or art, from sales, PR, performance arts and beyond, real-world experience is the most important teacher of all. Unlike black and white task orientated jobs, Community Management, and the art of dealing with dynamic humans, is as much of an art, as it is a science.   I asked the CEO of Liveworld (who hires hundreds of Community Managers), Peter Friedman who says we should look broader;   “The key is to get someone with the right personality, enthusiasm and skills.  Experience counts too. Even if there were good CM certification programs around, I wouldn’t disqualify someone for not having such a certification. I’d look at the person’s other specifics”  he also put certifcations into priority order: “For example a person with 5 years real CM experience is likely to be much stronger than a person with 1 year of experience and a certification”.


Hiring and Compensating your Community Manager

  1. Look for experience match against the Four Tenants of Community Managers. In 2007, I analyzed 16 job descriptions, and published the Four Tenants of the Community Manager and we found the following four job requirements: Community Advocate, Brand Evangelist, Savvy Communicator, and Shapes Product Roadmap.  Your Community Managers should match these job needs, and have the relevant experience to boot.  For example, Dell’s community strategist Bill Johnston told me he made his two hires (Connie Benson who’s written a post covering this topic, and Cy Jervis) based on “experience & impact” and cited both of their previous work.
  2. Ask them how they’re polishing their skills, beyond the day job. Although Community Managers are often social creatures, they could be working in a vaccum, and may be missing out on greater training or perspective.  Ask them how they stay current on industry trends, as well as help them connect with their peers in groups like the Community Roundtable, and participating in online discussions such as the Twitter #cmgrchat tag.   By bolstering skills and learning through education programs (like the Womma Certification), and see this older list by CM Roundtable.
  3. Reward them based on Business Impact. As orginizations invest in communities, they must serve business purposes from marketing, increasing adoption, self-support, or even using for innovating new products.  Companies should measure based on the business impacts that these communities provide –not just raw engagement or community growth.  I asked Evan Hamilton the Community Manager for UserVoice (which in itself a community) what he thought and he told me;  ”I think employers should pay based on what their team members accomplish. I didn’t start in community management with any sort of training, but I deliver results for the companies I work for, and they pay me accordingly. Companies should always encourage employees to get more training…but they shouldn’t pay based on a piece of paper that says you’re good at something.” …well said.

The Bottom Line: The emerging Community Manager education and certifications are a good thing for all professionals –yet be sure to balance them out with peer to peer learnings, and real-world experience.


Related Resources:

People on the Move in the Social Business Industry, Dec 18, 2011

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Mark you Calendars now that Community Manager Appreciation Day is coming this Jan, please salute your community professionals.

Both the submissions on this job announcement board, as well as available social media positions at corporations continue to pour in. In this continued digest of job changes, I like to salute those that continue to join the industry in roles focused on social media, see the archives, which I’ve been tracking since Q4, 2007.

potm-banner-2


People on the Move in the Social Business Industry:

  • Matt Dickman joins Weber Shandwick as EVP, Social Business Innovation, based out of Texas
  • Paul Fabretti joins Brazen PR as Director of Digital Agency with oversight of the digital direction of the agency, best-practice community management, consultancy, insights and reporting and monitoring and services provided
  • Jon Burg joins Champions Oncology as Dir Consumer Advocacy & Experience Manage consumer communications, lead generation marketing, business analytics and consumer experience design.
  • Erika Blanchard joins VIPdesk as Manager of Digital Marketing and Social Media Handles all digital marketing and social media for VIPdesk and many of the world’s premium brands
  • Joy Hays joins Texas Instruments as World Wide Social Media Program Manager and will define, execute and deploy social media web applications
  • Jay Blum joins Panasonic Energy Corporation of America as Marketing Manager Develop and launch social media marketing infrastructure
  • Laura Dinneen joins BLOOM Worldwide as Senior Strategist Social business strategy and insight
  • Samantha Loveland joins Yammer as Vice President, Worldwide Customer Engagement. In her new role, Loveland will lead Yammer’s Customer Success, Implementation Engineering and Support teams and will report to Chief Customer Officer David Obrand.
  • Dave Olson is promoted at HootSuite as VP Community Dave Olson oversees HootSuite’s international community building strategy. His portfolio also includes marketing, communications, media outreach, public relations, collateral creation, localization and support at HootSuite.

Submit a new hire:

Seeking a job?

  1. See the Web Strategy Job Board, which includes paid submissions from the top brands in the world.
  2. Community Manager jobs by Jake McKee
  3. Social Media Jobs by Chris Heuer
  4. Social Media jobs, filtered by SimplyHired
  5. Social Media Job Network by James Durbin
  6. 25 places to find social media jobs by Deb Ng

Additional Resources:

Please congratulate the new hires by leaving a comment below.

Witnessing Half a Decade on Twitter

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This Monday, I’ll have spent five years on the microblogging service Twitter. Exactly how much of a commitment is that? Let’s do some crude math: starting with the baseline of 30,000 published tweets, (about 13 a day), I estimate this to be equivalent to writing about 4-8 books. In aggregate, that seems like a lot, but when one publishes on this micromedia network it’s hard to even fathom how it could add up.

To share how I got into this journey, let’s go way back to when I worked at PodTech, a fledgling social media network that pooted out. I did however work with some of the best in the industry, and I recall my colleague Robert Scoble coming by my cube proclaiming “You need to get on Twitter right away Jeremiah”, his eyes ablaze in geek-citement. To me, this was nothing new, as with every week, Scoble would come into the office telling me about the next greatest thing from his interviewing adventures. Yet this one had legs. It felt right. The conversation was small, there were just a few folks on from Silicon Valley, NY, a bunch of edgelings, in fact, I recall the top 100 list looking similar to the top 100 list of Google+ a few months ago, a cadre of mostly well read tech bloggers.

Over time, we saw it grow, and mainstream media celebs moved in, media companies, and brands. Spam started to happen, and we saw a strain on their service as fail whales emerged at great frequency –causing a migration to the ‘backup’ network on Plurk. Over time twitter continued to grow, we saw applications emerge, marketers jump on, and even political figures join into the fray. Things started to grow into a frenzy as there was a race to get to a million twitter followers between aplusk and news networks –a testament to the turning tide of people gaining power over larger corporations –and the the impact this tool had to regime change in distant countries that really don’t feel so far away now. While I could go on and on about what I saw, I’ll leave that to expert story tellers like Shel Israel, he captured the history so well in his book Twitterville, I’ll let you revisit his tome.

Now, on to the future. Where is Twitter going? As my colleague Charlene says, “Social media will be like air”. It will continue to be part of many of our digital communications. I expect automated devices to tweet on their own (from Puppy Tweets, Fridges, and Plants) it’ll spread to cars, appliances and even our heart monitors. Twitter themselves, has gone through a series of internal leadership changes, and has recently launched a new layout, and I expect them to roll-out more features similar to Facebook’s brand pages. In the end, Tweets will become a data layer, just a way to simply pass information, much how we rely on RSS, and then fade into the background as a cultural utility.

It’s been a fun five years on this network, and I look forward to the next 5, as social disappears into the background –and people surface to the front. Thanks Twitter, and all those that are using it.