Birdie Twitter floats. Like a duck. Quack. The share price nearly doubles intraday on launch on November 7. People get ecstatic. Speculators may well have dumped the shares for a princely profit. But haven’t veterans like us seen it all before? In 2000 when the bloated dot com sector nose-dived after two years of enormously inflated and poorly backed up claims of success.
Loss-making Twitter may have 500m subscribers and it may well seek to monetise the 80% who it doesn’t reach today with advertising, but it is at risk of becoming cyber history within five years. MySpace and Friends Reunited have struggled on having lost the plot.
Technology evolves rapidly and unpredictably. We all know that from the “latest” PC or smartphone we have bought and three months later can only say “it seemed a good idea at the time”.
Facebook has 1 billion users and arguably has tried too hard to reach too many disparate people. General Motors famously exited online advertising with FB a couple of years ago, citing the poor success it felt it had had with advertising through that medium.
That’s a wake-up call to Twitter too. There are now heaps of social media and micro-blogging platforms out there. Many will never make it. And FB now has to protect itself too.
Twitter is not a networking site, nor a chatroom. But what it offers is not Eureka. It is an online answer to a text which any of its 500m subscribers can access and “follow” if they know about it and feel minded to.
The only people who make Twitter a success, if that is measured by the number of unknowns who follow their accounts, are celebrities or otherwise a very public job. These have brand and can easily get ahead with hundreds of thousands of followers. The rest are doing it as a hobby or release. That probably includes me!
But micro-blogging like Twitter is already available as a feed into other social media, such as FB and the professional social network LinkedIn. So that encourages people to stay on FB or LinkedIn and get Tweets delivered to their door. Smart. It develops loyalty while supplying “White Label style” the functions that people want.
In time FB and LinkedIn will follow suit with their own Twitter answers, and snare the loyal market they have honed. FB already offers messenger. Micro-blogs must be next.
But even then, the real winner will be LinkedIn. In terms of financial success, LinkedIn has the best prospects. Unlike wide angle FB, LinkedIn has nurtured a mostly professional and business community.
Frankly, the people who most need to network and yet find it difficult to do with their busy day jobs, are professionals! So for them LinkedIn is a real asset. Meanwhile, FB is used to stay in touch with relatives and students with friends plus cyber “groupies” who want to be friends with the current social and media crazes, like Justin Bieber of The Saturdays.
FB is an excuse for people who could stay in touch with others to simply be lazy.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a real tool. And advertisers love markets where 20% of the population generates 80% of the income. So, LinkedIn is that, reaching the people that advertisers like General Motors need to grab.
Twitter, FB and others should watch out. LinkedIn, if and when it joins the others in an IPO, is a share that actually may well be worth buying for its long-term value.