Social media enthusiasts and heavy Twitter users, brace yourselves: Twitter has yet to reach its full potential. In fact, I'm going to call my shot right now with a 2011 prediction: Twitter's growth in 2011 will dwarf its 2010 growth.*
The prediction comes with an asterisk, and the asterisk is this: The userbase may not grow as rapidly, but its use will grow rapidly. In other words: people with Twitter accounts who dabbled with Twitter but have not experienced their "a ha!" moment will do so in 2011.
What data do I have to back this prediction? None except my own two eyes observing my friends on Twitter, and these friends are not the typical "social media enthusiasts" that we think of when we think of "tweeps."
I need to make this perfectly clear: "Friends on Twitter" does NOT equal "Twitter friends." Friends on Twitter are people I'm friends with in real life. Many of them started using Twitter in 2010 but have not been heavy users until I started noticing a trend: They're figuring it out, and are learning to love it.
In the past two months (especially the last month) I have seen tweet frequency rise along with Twitter conversations among my friends. This is very encouraging because most of my friends are not in the marketing or public relations field. Many of them started using Twitter but have expressed confusion over its benefits to me in the past. Now the benefits of Twitter are becoming perfectly clear to them. In other words, they had their "a ha!" moment.
I've also seen that "tweet frequency" is becoming less of an issue among this group. While it's still taboo to overtweet a bunch of nonsense, Twitter conversation has sharply risen among this group. They're beginning to see Twitter for what it really is: a totally unique, conversational medium where the taboo practice of "overupdating Facebook statuses" does not exist. They realize that the more people you follow, the more frequently you want to be involved in the conversation because the timeline moves faster, hence the higher frequency of tweets.
While some will see this prediction as a total shot in the dark, the trends I've seen based on observation make Twitter's future very bright in 2011. In this case, Twitter's growth will be about quality of use over quantity of users.
And the sooner companies understand the benefits of Twitter's use as a conversational piece instead of a broadcasting medium, the more they will benefit. 2011 is going to be a very bright year for tweeps!