Tonight: Cloudy with showers & some thunderstorms late. An overnight low in the upper 50s to near 60. A south wind at 10-15mph.
Friday: Showers and some thunderstorms during the morning, then breezy and drier by midday and the afternoon. ... More...
User Burnout Could Threaten Twitter's Prosperity
By Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer
AP File Photo: Megan Fox left nearly a million followers dangling when she checked out of Twitter in January, explaining that “Facebook is as much as I can handle.” Twitter burnout among celebrities, athletes and shameless self-promoters poses a risk to the company and its investors as Twitter Inc. prepares for its Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 initial public offering.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- They loved it. Now they hate it.
A growing number of celebrities, athletes and self-promoters are burnt out and signing off of Twitter. Many have gotten overwhelmed.
Some people built big audiences on the short messaging service only to have their followers turn against them. Others complain that tweets that once drew lots of attention now get lost in the noise.
As Twitter Inc. prepares to go public this week, the company is selling potential investors on the idea that its user base of 232 million will continue to grow along with the 500 million tweets that are sent each day. The company's revenue depends on ads it inserts into the stream of messages.
But Wall Street could lose its big bet on social media if prolific tweeters lose their voice.
Evidence of Twitter burnout isn't hard to find. Just look at the celebrities who - at one time or another - have taken a break from the service. The long list includes everyone from Alec Baldwin to Miley Cyrus to "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof.
Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt lamented "all the negativity" she saw on the service when she quit, temporarily, in July. Actress Megan Fox left nearly a million followers dangling when she checked out in January, explaining that "Facebook is as much as I can handle." Pop star John Mayer deleted his account in 2011, saying Twitter absorbed so much of his thinking, he couldn't write a song.
"I was a tweetaholic," he told students during a talk at the Berklee College of Music.
If Twitter turns off celebrities who have a financial incentive to stay in close contact with fans, how can the company prevent average users from becoming disenchanted?
For some users, Twitter tiredness sets in slowly. At first, they enjoy seeing their tweets of 140 characters or less bounce around the Web with retweets and favorites. But new connections soon get overwhelming. Obligation sets in - not only to post more, but to reply to followers and read their tweets.
Many users conclude that Twitter is a time-sucking seduction and turn away. One who calls herself patrilla$$$thrilla excitedly tweeted "first tweet, wocka wocka" just after she joined in July.
On Wednesday, 161 tweets and 27 followers later, the romance was over. She quit to "fully enjoy the little details in life I miss because I'm too busy here," she tweeted.
The cacophony creeps into everyday life. Twitter fanatics tweet from the dinner table, during a movie, in the bathroom, in bed. Vacations can seem like time wasted not tweeting.
The over-doers suffer from a "fear of missing out" (or FOMO), says Tom Edwards, vice president at themarketingarm, a Dallas-based advertising agency. "Managing our virtual personas, including all of the etiquette that comes with, can be tiresome, especially for those with large followings."
It happens -even to people who ought to know better. Just ask Gary Schirr, an assistant professor who teaches a course on social media at Radford University.
In August, while vacationing on a beach, Schirr felt a pang of withdrawal because he had stopped tweeting to his 70,000-plus followers. Then he saw an old condemned house about to be washed away and posted a photo to Facebook and Twitter. He felt relieved when the likes and retweets rolled in.
"You feel forgotten if you're not out there," he says. "It's another sign of addiction. You feel bad if you don't tweet."
Prolific tweeters stay engaged partly because there are real benefits to a big following, which usually requires tweeting a lot.
Journalists who have large Twitter followings have used them to land better-paying jobs because every click on stories can make more money for their new employer. Actors can land roles on TV or the movies if their digital audience is expected to tag along.
Matt Lewis, a columnist with The Week magazine, says his Twitter following is like "portable equity" that gave him an edge over more established writers earlier in his career. He's now got nearly 33,000 followers.
Even so, one of Lewis' more popular stories is titled "Why I hate Twitter." It goes into why the social network became, for him, "a dark place" overrun by "angry cynics and partisan cranks." He became demoralized by the criticism, but he couldn't pull himself away.
"It's also like a prison. You can't check out," he says.
Today, Lewis rarely interacts with his followers and hopes the service will come up with new ways to filter out the hate tweets. "Why should I be harassed if I look at my (at) button?" he says.
But he remains amazed at how Twitter has helped him reach new readers, and after some 67,000 tweets, he isn't giving it up.
Others find that as more people join the service, the deluge of tweets can drown out individual voices.
So says Bob Lefsetz, a music industry analyst who writes an email column titled the Lefsetz Letter.
Twitter, he wrote in July, is "toast." "Over. Done. History." His follower count isn't rising as quickly as before, although it's still a respectable 57,000-plus. And his tweets don't see as much action as in the past, which he attributes to too many people tweeting "too much irrelevant information."
"In the old days, I'd get 20 retweets. Now I'll get none," Lefsetz says. "It makes me not want to play."
Along with the potential for burnout, there's also the risk that Twitter becomes uncool to the younger generation, especially when services such as Pinterest and Instagram are a tap away.
Devon Powers, an assistant professor of communications at Drexel University, says many of her students have moved on to Snapchat. But there can still be pressure to keep up with the other services.
"There's all these new obligations to update and report and check in," she says. It can make dropping offline feel like a relief.
"If I get really busy, the first thing I stop doing is checking Twitter," she says. "I'm living my life. I'm not having a commentary about it."
Follow Ryan Nakashima on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rnakashi
More Business News
Last Update on April 24, 2014 17:31 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits surged 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 last week, though the gain likely reflected temporary layoffs in the week before Easter.
The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, rose 4,750 to 316,750. The four-week average fell two weeks ago to its lowest level since October 2007, two months before the recession began.
Applications can be volatile around Easter, because many school systems temporarily lay off bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees during spring break. Some of those workers file for unemployment benefits.
Despite the volatility, applications have generally been declining in recent months, a hopeful sign for the job market. Three weeks ago, applications fell to 301,000, the lowest level in nearly seven years.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods posted a solid gain for the second straight month in March. A key category that signals business investment plans increased at the fastest pace in four months.
The Commerce Department says that orders for durable goods increased 2.6 percent in March following a 2.1 percent rise in February. Those back-to-back gains followed two big declines in December and January which had raised concerns about possible weakness in manufacturing.
Demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide for business investment plans, rose 2.2 percent in March after a 1.1 percent drop in February. It was the best showing since a 3 percent rise in November.
Manufacturing seems to be recovering after a cold winter disrupted business activity.
TOKYO (AP) -- Talks between the United States and Japan on a Pacific Rim trade pact have halted for now without any resolution in sight, spoiling plans for a showcase deal during President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo.
Economy minister Akira Amari, Japan's top negotiator, said too many issues remained unresolved and further working-level talks will be needed to reach a market-opening pact as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Amari told reporters Thursday that no end was in sight. He described the negotiations as in a "tough situation."
The two sides had hoped to proclaim a broad agreement or at least significant progress during Obama's visit, which ends Friday.
A Japan-U.S. deal is seen as crucial for talks among the other 10 countries participating in the U.S.-led initiative to move ahead.
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors says first-quarter profit fell 86 percent as a series of recalls dragged down its earnings.
GM had a net profit of $125 million, the company's worst quarterly performance since it posted a net loss after leaving bankruptcy protection in 2009.
The Detroit automaker says it took a $1.3 billion charge for recalling about 7 million vehicles worldwide. The company also incurred $300 million in restructuring costs, mostly in Europe. And it took a $419 million charge due to a change in the way it values Venezuela's currency.
GM made 6 cents per share, down from 58 cents per share a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, GM made 29 cents per share, far above Wall Street estimates of 3 cents per share.
Caterpillar 1Q profit climbs 5 pct, forecast rises
Caterpillar's first-quarter earnings climbed 5 percent and the construction equipment maker raised its 2014 forecast. But the company also says a mining equipment sales slump is still hurting results.
The Peoria, Ill., company says it now expects 2014 earnings of $6.10 per share excluding restructuring costs. That's up from its previous forecast for $5.85 per share.
Analysts expect $5.72 per share, on average.
Caterpillar Inc. says it earned $922 million, or $1.44 per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That compares to $880 million, or $1.31 per share, last year.
Earnings totaled $1.61 per share, excluding restructuring costs. Total revenue was nearly flat at $13.24 billion.
Analysts forecast earnings of $1.21 per share on $13.09 billion in revenue.
DALLAS (AP) -- First-quarter revenue at UPS slumped 12 percent as winter storms increased costs for the shipping giant and cut into its revenue.
The Atlanta company says the rough start to the year means that full-year earnings will come in at the low end of earlier forecasts.
UPS posted earnings of $911 million, or 98 cents per share, well short of the $1.08 that Wall Street was looking for, and less than the $1.04 billion, or $1.08 per share, it reported a year earlier.
UPS says winter storms reduced operating profit by $200 million as costs rose.
Revenue rose 2.6 percent to $13.78 billion, but that's still shy of the $13.91 billion that analysts had forecast.
DALLAS (AP) -- Even with the turbulence of severe winter storms and stubbornly high fuel prices, many of the major airlines are cruising and their stock prices are soaring.
On Thursday, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported record profits for the first quarter, usually the weakest time of year for the airlines. That followed a rousing report from Delta Air Lines a day earlier.
Still stuck on the tarmac: United Airlines. While rivals were making money, United lost another $609 million during the first three months of the year.
The No. 2 airline company behind American, United Continental Holdings Inc. is struggling to make the 2010 merger of United and Continental work. As costs rise, United is taking in less per mile from passengers -- it's not charging fares high enough to cover expenses.
"This quarter's financial performance is well below what we can and should achieve," conceded United Chairman and CEO Jeff Smisek. He said the airline is taking steps to fix its operations and service to boost financial results.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The frugality of the Great Recession may be history.
Orbitz senior editor Jeanenne Tornatore (jeh-NEEN' TOR'-nah-tor) says the travel website's survey finds 88 percent of Americans plan real vacations this year. She says "people don't talk staycation anymore," as was popular a few years ago. This year's survey finds "people really getting back out, taking these longer vacations and kind of trading up for some bigger destinations."
Tornatore says Orbitz bookings show the Mexican resort of Cancun as the top destination, but most of the other hot spots for fun-seekers are in the U.S. -- with Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle and Los Angeles rounding out the top five, and Honolulu ranks tenth.
Average airfares are up about six percent from a year ago, according to Tornatore. She urges vacation travelers to shop around for deals, and use rewards points -- they can save big time.
Tornatore says mid-June through late July is the peak summer vacation period, and you should get airline tickets about 60 days in advance. She says if you're planning your vacation during that busy period, "you really want to book now."
MANDALAY BAY CONVENTION CENTER-EXPANSION
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas is planning a $66 million expansion that will boost its convention center from the seventh-largest to the fifth-largest in America.
Company officials said Thursday that the 350,000 square feet of new exhibit space will help it attract larger trade shows, and will allow events already there to expand.
The convention center will hit 2 million total square feet after the expansion, putting it behind only McCormick Place in Chicago, the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo that's also in Las Vegas.
Construction is scheduled to begin late this year and wrap up in January 2016.
Las Vegas hosted 53 of the nation's 250 largest trade shows last year, more than any other U.S. city.
The Good Life
Celebrating the events, adventures and activities that represent "The Good Life" in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
SideroadsTake a ride with Don Welch to explore the unique people and places to be found along the Sideroads of the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
Road TrippinCome Road Trippin' with us and see all the great sites in your area!
Closings and DelaysThese are the latest School and Business Closings reported to NewsChannel 9. If you see errors or need to add a school or business, call 423-757-7320.
Educator of the WeekEach week WTVC will profile a teacher in Southeast Tennessee and acknowledge their part in the advancement of the education of their students and the contributions to their profession.
Deaf & Hard of HearingInformation provided to NewsChannel 9 by members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
Sponsored EventsCheck Back Often for NewsChannel9 Sponsored Events!