Monday, August 31, 2009

3 Reasons Twitter is On the Verge of Breaking Big... Or... You Know Dying Completely

Tonight I was out with some new friends talking about the virtues of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites when I said this sentence, "I have the feeling Twitter is here for the long run. I think it will really start to break big soon."

Booting up my computer I see this article pop up on Tech Crunch: Why Don't Teens Tweet? We Asked Over 10,000 of Them.

The article is good. You should definitely open it in another window and read it. But the conclusion of the articles is


"Most teens don’t use Twitter because it doesn’t enable them to do anything they can’t already do elsewhere, which is the same reason most adults don’t use Twitter. It has nothing to do with any teen-specific concerns like texting plans or safety. It comes down to something more simple: delivering value beyond Facebook and MySpace — a competitive moat that Facebook is bridging one move at a time, from the Everyone button to the acquisition of FriendFeed to the centrality of the stream itself."
Which tells us that...

1. Twitter Does Not Offer Anything Sufficiently Unique

Immediately the thought came to mind, "How do people describe Twitter to the non-twitter user?" Almost universally I've heard, "It's like updating your Facebook status, but you only get 140 characters to do it."

And the crazy thing is, Twitter seems to be aware of this fact, as evidenced by the Twitter App on Facebook that lets you update your Facebook status via Twitter. So it's no longer "like" updating your Facebook status; it IS updating your Facebook status.

If the marketplace really views Twitter in this way, then as much as it pains me to say it as an avid Twitter evangelist, I'm afraid Twitter needs a course correction before it finds itself marooned on the shores of the ever-growing borders of Facebooklandia.

But if it becomes marooned like FriendFeed did, the Twitter bosses probably wouldn't mind too much considering Twitter would go for far more than the $50 million FriendFeed cost to Facebook.

2. Businesses ♥ Twitter... and are Confused by Facebook

You see, Facebook isn't all a bed of roses though. As far as I can tell Twitter has given brands something that Facebook has yet to deliver: a reliable means to connect businesses with their consumer base.

You might say, "But Facebook has pages!" To which I say, You're right, but the pages interface is weak and pages offer little means to connect with users without coming across as spammy.

Consider this:

Twitter - 1.2 million followers
Facebook Page - 2,200 fans

Twitter - 1.4 million followers
Facebook Page - 37,000 fans

Southwest Airlines
Twitter - 530,000 followers
Facebook Page - 76,000 fans

Twitter offers businesses a relatively easy means to connect with a passionate base and Facebook does not. If Facebook wants to put the death nail in Twitter it must become more business-friendly.

3. The Twitter Business Model Still Not Clear
Last year Facebook brought in $300 million in revenue, but Twitter has only recently developed a revenue stream and stands to post only $4 million profits. (By comparison, has produced precisely $0 since Q1 2008.)

This does not indicate that Twitter lacks a bright future; it just means the future is not clear for Twitter yet and right now, Facebook is laying the financial smack-down.

So is Twitter on the ropes? Probably not yet, but I think Twitter will need more than five smooth stones to take down the Facebook Goliath.

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