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

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
 

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn