I’m not much of a John Mayer fan. When he wasn’t making music for high school girls (“Your Body is a Wonderland”), he seemed a little too intent on courting the “bro” element (his turn in a VW commercial, for example). Still, his recent defection from Twitter caught my attention. After all, why would someone with 3.7 million followers suddenly pull the plug?
And that’s possible. But it seems like there’s more to it. After all, as Mashable’s Stan Schroeder states, “it’s still valuable social media estate…[and] there will probably be another tour after Battle Studies.”
So why do I think Mayer quit Twitter? And more importantly, what might the lessons be for the rest of us? A few thoughts:
1. He left because it was no longer a pro-Mayer love-fest. There was a time when John Mayer was seen as somewhat of a boy next door, albeit one who had mastered the Stratocaster. He was a media superstar and Twitter was just an extension of the powerful John Mayer brand. Then came that Rolling Stone interview, followed by mea culpa after mea culpa. Mayer’s star fell a little bit, and Twitter gave his detractors a chance to be heard. It could be that Mayer just didn’t want to give them the microphone any longer.
The lesson: Social media is designed to stimulate two-way conversations. If you want to benefit from it when times are good, you need to remember that times won’t always be good.
2. He left Twitter because Tumblr is the next big thing. Mayer says he’s defecting Twitter in favor of Tumblr, another micro-blogging site. Is it possible that Mayer is just one step ahead of most of us, foreseeing that Twitter’s days are numbered and waiting for the world to change along with him? In fact, just yesterday, in an article on SocialBeat, social media industry insider JD Rucker said Tumblr is a very real rival to Twitter:
“Realistically it can easy surpass Twitter in overall value…[Y]ou can find a whole lot more of value on a Tumblr page potentially than on a Twitter page. People will revisit a Tumblr blog because of a wealth of content whereas they don’t revisit a Twitter page nearly as much because it is made up of 140-character messages.”
The lesson: Tumblr very well may be the next big thing. More importantly, though, the social media landscape can change overnight. For every Facebook, there’s a Friendster. And for every Twitter, there’s a Tumblr–or another rival looking to steal the crown.
3. He left Twitter because it’s too labor intensive. Twitter is unmatched in its ability to give celebrities a connection to their fans–and vice versa. Where else could you have a dialogue with people like Aston Kutcher, Shaquille O’Neal, or Britney Spears? However, most celebrities are busy people, with movies to produce, songs to write, and–in the case of Ms. Spears–lawsuits to fight. Twitter can help build a brand over time, tweet by tweet, but it demands a lot of attention. And if you’re in the business of garnering attention instead of giving it, it may not be the best tool for you. Is it possible that Mayer just couldn’t keep up—or didn’t want to keep up—with his own tweets and the chirping of 3.7 million followers?
The lesson: Done right, Twitter is labor intensive. It’s not for everyone. If it’s part of your social media strategy, make sure you understand that tweets are here today, gone tomorrow–and so is the impression you make if you don’t have a sustained commitment to your followers.
Ultimately, only John Mayer needs to know why John Mayer left Twitter. Still, however, the biggest lesson in all of this may be yet to come, when we learn how his 3.7 million followers respond. Will they say hello to him on Tumblr? Or will they take a cue from one of the lyrics on Battle Studies and leave him singing “All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye”?