When Micro-blogging Grows Up

Will Twitter and other micro-blogging services start resembling the blogosphere down the road? We are in the early days of micro-blogs and I still remember when Twitter was used mainly for “status” reporting. But more people are using Twitter instead of blogs, following links from trusted sources essentially using Twitter as a highly filtered blog reader. Just like the early days of blogs, the most popular Twitters are heavy on technology and “personal” micro-blogging. On the other hand, given that blogs are perfect for short opinon pieces, politics was and remains popular among bloggers.
The chart is the result of quickly categorizing the Top 100 blogs and Twitter users with the most followers. I used Twitterholic’s data from June 7th. Technorati’s authority is a social network metric, Twitterholic measures “popularity”. The top blogs are heavy on tech, politics and news, with “personal” blogs less popular than their micro-blog counterparts. The more mature blogosphere is definitely dispersed across more categories. A casual glance at the oldest copy of the Technorati Top 100 available online indicates that back in June 2005, technology and politics dominated the list even more. “Personal” blogs were also more common in June 2005. The current top 100 has its share of blogs from traditional media: Wired magazine alone has 5 blogs in the most recent list.

Three categories (technology, tech/personal, personal) accounted for 56% of the total “subscriptions” to the top 100 Twitter users. Compared to the blogosphere, politics is less represented in the Twitterholic Top 100. The top Democratic presidential candidates were it as far as politics. In contrast, more than ten political bloggers made the Technorati Top 100. Of the three, Obama dominated, accounting for 80% of subscribers in the politics category, with Edwards and Clinton splitting the remaining 20%. Looking beyond the top 100, Obama alone has more than nineteen times the combined subscribers to the different John Mccain users. The analogous Democrat/Republican split, using the Technorati authority of the top political blogs, is 2 to 1. In terms of location, over 70% of the Twitterholic 100 are based in the U.S. Blogs are popular worldwide with some of the biggest blogs based in Asia.

Once more stable services and business models emerge, I still think micro-blogs will evolve to share some of the properties of the blogosphere described above. Micro-blogs from traditional media sources will be among the most popular. The liberal vs. conservative split will be less pronounced, with conservatives narrowing the micro-blogging gap. The top micro-blogs won’t be as dominated by technology, although I’m not sure the format is really ideal for political topics. OTOH, I’m surprised gossip isn’t as big – at least not yet. The top micro-blogs won’t include as many “personal” ones. Micro-blogging will be just as popular overseas. We definitely will have several micro-blogging services and not be as dependent on the pioneering folks over at Twitter. More likely, micro-blogging will be just one component of broader platforms like FriendFeed. As always, spammers and phishers will try to ruin everything.

A post that was meant to highlight some of the differences between the two top 100 lists has led to forecasts – definitely not my original goal. What are your predictions?

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