Twitter flat-lines: is the Tweet separating from the Chav?
Last week saw the blogosphere speculate that Twitter's meteoric growth might finally be ending.
According to web monitoring company, Compete, traffic to the micro-blogging website has flat-lined, suggesting its world dominance may not be so assured.
Quantcast's numbers told the same story. Since its peak at 29.2 million users in July09, Twitter traffic has dropped down to 23.6 million U.S. unique visitors, a loss of nearly 24%!
But before the social media sceptics start celebrating by regurgitating theories on the faddish nature of social networks and the vacuous nature of their inhabitants, it is important to know a couple of things.
Firstly, unlike other social networks, Twitter is not popular with teenagers. It is this age group that is notorious for migrating from one network to another.
Teens don't tweet.
Possibly because it requires brevity, but more likely because it requires an understanding of what might actually be interesting to other people!
Younger users may have simply got bored with Twitter and its many shortcomings as a chat room or perhaps realised it is full of grumpy old people like me.
But those of us who don't use it as a chat room have found increasing ways to share content, galvanise public opinion and exact social media revenge on bad customer service.
(Oh - and it's great for slagging off the X Factor too).
Secondly, we need to remember that there are "lies, damn lies and website statistics". A fall in traffic to Twitter's own websites could simply mean that more tweeters have migrated to using phone and desktop applications; a sign that the Twittersphere is evolving, not retracting.
Frankly, it is the basic functionality of Twitter's own site that leads many a debutant tweeter to give up before accumulating enough followers to make it rewarding.
We may well see the site transformed in 2010 as it is widely rumoured that this is the year that Twitter intends to monetise its success - perhaps sick of the jokes about it knowing how to spend money but not make it.
In fact, Twitter is reported to be hiring new developers to help transform the site into a commercial entity.
But stories about its negative growth won't help this course.
However, if there are truly less people using Twitter than before, it must be because it is transforming from a place where narcissists and their voyeurs can meet, to a more credible news and opinion sharing platform.
Perhaps the Tweeters are separating from the Chavs?
Chris Tomlinson is MD of social media & online PR agency Friend Digital Ltd.