Russell Brandom for The Verge:
I call it the Bootleg Ratio: the delicate balance between A) content created by users specifically for the platform and B) semi-anonymous clout-chasing accounts drafting off the audience. Any platform will have both, but as B starts to overtake A, users will have less and less reason to visit and creators will have less and less reason to post. In short, it’s a sign that the interesting stuff about the platform is starting to die out.
This is a fascinating point and one that is further expanded to partially explain the inability of Vine to cash in on its network. There’s a slow change in the way people relate to their social network of choice, they all start out small and lovely places to be, but once they get to a tipping point it’s all downhill. What was once a space for sharing becomes yet another avenue to distribute on, and becomes less and less unique.
Instagram has gone through several cycles of this and seems to be on its way down again, whereas it hasn’t really stuck on Twitter. As Russel points out, “What’s left is often depressing and unpleasant, but it’s uniquely Twitter” — and if that isn’t a perfect description, I don’t know what is.