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.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little