If we haven't already reached a "jump the shark" moment with Twitter, I wonder whether we're getting near.
Not because every disaster--natural or man-made--now elicits mandatory blog gushing about how Twitter left the "mainstream media" in the dust. Not because The New York Times technology columnist finally deigned to get a Twitter account and write about his experiences. And not because another venture capitalist decided to invest millions for a piece of the company.
That's all part of the usual fascination which attends any new technology. But how long before the early adopters get outnumbered by the swarms of carpetbaggers? Some signs already are popping up into view.
The publishers John Wiley & Sons have just issued a tome with the remarkable title Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time.
Think about that message for a moment. Twitter power? Dominate? And all along, here I was naively thinking that Twitter was all about social interaction on the Internet and the unimpeded flow of communication.
The dust jacket identifies the book's author, Joel Comm, as "one of the world's leading experts on strategies for making money online." Ken Burge, who gets second billing, worked eight years at Microsoft and is Comm's business partner. Domination? Of course.
Anthony Robbins, he of fire walk (and late-night infomercial) fame, supplied the warm-up with a New Age-like preface.
"Technology such as Twitter has the potential to give us more than just an opportunity to tell others what happened in our day. If we understand and appreciate what Twitter is capable of, we can use it to instantly share our lives with others, and we can use it to reach more people in a meaningful way."
And make a buck. (Hey, what could be more American?)
Comm and Burge allow that Twitter's "not a place where people come to sell--and pushing sales hard on Twitter just isn't going to work." But in the next breath, they add that any "friends" you meet on Twitter may serve as valuable stepping stones to the ultimate goal, which is to get them to sign on the line which is dotted.
"If you do manage to build up friends on Twitter, you should find that those friends see you as the first stop for the products or services they need. People always prefer to do business with people they know, and they get to know them by talking to them and swapping ideas with them. On the Internet, people are doing that on Twitter."
You can see where their argument is heading. The rest of the book's 234 pages is devoted to doling out tips on how to game the system to reel in "loyal customers and more sales overall." One segment describes "how to be interesting on Twitter." So much for being yourself, as if that were not enough. Now you've got a phony formula where you just paint by the numbers.
At the end of the book, the authors cap everything off with a 30-day plan "for dominating Twitter."
I can't fault anyone for trying to cash in on the latest craze. Opportunity always knocks. They did it during the dot-com bubble. They did it during the housing bubble. And they did during the stock bubble.
What's odd is that they're trying to cash in on the mainstreaming of Twitter even before Twitter figures that one out for itself. In the meantime, can you really "dominate" your market, one Tweet at a time, as the book's title suggests? Maybe the better question is whether you should want to. (Tweet your responses to me at "Coopeydoop.")