Keen on New Media: Twitter need only look at Facebook to see its future problems

February 2009 might well go down as the month when Twitter replaced Facebook as the hottest and coolest company in Silicon Valley.

First, Twitter closed a $35m (£24m) round of venture capital investment at a valuation of about $250m – not bad for a revenue-less start-up in the depths of the worst liquidity crisis since the Great Depression. Second, research from Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that a whopping 11 per cent of Americans have used a service such as Twitter. Third, in a survey of 200 top digital marketing mavens, Abrams Research showed Twitter trounced Facebook in the all-important question of which social media service is the most effective financial investment for businesses – Twitter getting 40 per cent and Facebook only 15 per cent of the vote.

Of course, the 29 person, two-year-old Twitter is in that pre-adolescent stage of development when it can do no wrong in the eyes of the Silicon Valley cognoscenti. The network has experienced phenomenal growth with active users growing 900 per cent in the past year. Anyone who is anyone is on Twitter these days: Stephen Fry, Barack Obama, Shaquille O’Neal and Jonathan Ross. Best of all, the advertising free Twitter hasn’t had to worry about the inconvenience of revenue with the San Francisco-based company only getting around to hiring its first head of sales in the past month.

The five-year-old Facebook, on the other hand, has – to excuse the teenage metaphor – collided head-on with the pimples of adolescence. While Twitter was having a miraculous February, Facebook’s month has been gruesome. It all began when the Consumerist website, in an inflammatory post entitled “We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content Forever” noted a number of significant changes in Facebook’s terms of service and suggested that the company intended to keep the information of users who quit the network. “Facebook owns you!” cried tens of thousands of paranoid members, thereby forcing Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 25-year-old CEO, to publicly rescind the changes and limp back to his original TOS.

The storm is really about how the company transforms the information of Facebook’s current 175 million social networkers into dollars and cents. Having been valued at a ludicrous $15bn when Microsoft invested $240m in the social network in October 2007, Facebook is now under immense pressure to prove that its free service can generate significant revenue. And given the premium advertisers pay for personal information, it isn’t surprising that the real fear of the change in its TOS was about Facebook selling the data of its former members to the highest corporate bidder.

Ev Williams and Biz Stone, Twitter’s two young co-founders, should learn from Facebook’s growing pains. In a year or two, Twitter will have inherited these uncomfortable growing pains. The micro-blogging site will have been replaced as the start-up darling of the Valley by a fresh-faced new thing. It will probably also have to quell the digital rebellion of Bolshevik users who claim “ownership” of the service. Most of all, Twitter will soon have to prove to investors that it has a viable strategy for transforming its millions upon millions of Tweets into hard cash.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Senior Account Executive / Account Executive

£25 - 30k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are looking for an Accoun...

Account Manager / Sales Account Manager / Recruitment Account Manager

£25k Basic (DOE) – (£30k year 1 OTE) : Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright A...

Resourcer / Junior Recruiter

£15-20k (DOE) + Benefits / Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright R...

Web Designer / Digital Designer

£25 - 40k (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Web Desig...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments