If Twitter wants to stop making losses, it needs to take a leaf out of Facebook and show that it has a warm, cuddly side

Facebook makes users feel like stars, Twitter makes them feel like wallflowers at a party

Share

Facebook turned 10 this week, and it celebrated by giving every user the gift of making their own Facebook movie. These mini-biopics edit each user’s site history into a one-minute montage set to a plinking piano soundtrack, the sort of epic, heart-squeezing slush you hear on nature documentaries. They begin with birth, or the date one joined Facebook. They move through “first moments” and “most liked posts”, and end with a big blue Like symbol. Really, Facebook, you shouldn’t have.

They have gone down very well. Hundreds of millions of people have shared their virtual life stories this week. Even if it is very obviously a marketing ploy, a means to generate clicks, user data and goodwill, people like it. And why not? It’s a nice thing – celebratory, cute, even a bit moving.

It’s nice to see your friends’ major life moments highlighted, even if those major life moments have been decided on by Facebook and how many likes a moment got. So you might end up with a picture of Andy Murray winning Wimbledon being inserted into your personal story. Who cares? Look! It’s a movie about me!

Twitter has had a less celebratory week. On Wednesday night, the social networking site reported losses of $645m in 2013. The results led to a drop in the company’s share price of more than 23 per cent; $6.5bn has been wiped off its value. It is not attracting new users at the rate it expected and those users it has are not checking in as often as they used to. Is this the beginning of the end for Twitter? Probably not; it is just the beginning. Facebook spent years in the red before it turned a real profit.

Still, something is going wrong so something must be done. According to one analyst, only Mummy can save Twitter now: “Is your mom on Facebook? Yes. You ask that same question about Twitter, the answer is almost always no. The question is: can they ever become mainstream like Facebook is?” While tech-heads have been predicting Facebook’s demise for years, it has reached the age of 10, which is about 70 in internet years. It has five times as many active monthly users as Twitter. Last year its profits hit $1.5bn.

For all of its revolution-starting and news-generating and spats, Twitter has yet to capture this valuable “Mom demographic”, which has loyalty, time and disposable income to hand. Perhaps it is because while Facebook is all about being inclusive and sharing – whether baby pictures or holiday memories – Twitter is harder, more exclusive and still mainly consists of journalists shouting at one another. Its 140-character limit demands wit and pithiness. It also breeds snark and trolls.

The real clue is in those movies, though. Facebook knows that social networking is less about networking than it is about cultivating a social persona. It makes its users feel like stars in their own film while Twitter makes them feel like wallflowers at a party. The results speak for themselves. Facebook makes £5.11 per active user per month; Twitter makes less than half that. While Facebook pours its every effort into knowing everything about its biggest asset – its users – so that it can profit from them, Twitter still knows relatively little. In future, then, users can probably look forward to far more “personalised” features on Twitter, whether they want them or not. Because it’s in the minutiae of our lives, the background details to our personal movies, that the real social networking cash lies.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud back in 2010  

The media cannot ignore tricky questions when someone dies. But it must stick to the facts

Will Gore
SEEN graffiti Wonder Woman  

Warner Bros’ bold stance on Wonder Woman opens the door for Hollywood evolution

Matthew James
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us