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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate Twitter
Running a public company is no easy gig, especially when you’re a social platform. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg. After taking his company public on May 18th, the stock struggled for over a year, not reaching its initial stock offering price until August 2013. It took a renewed focus on mobile, major acquisitions, and sustained revenue and user growth before Facebook could prove to Wall Street and the broader business community that it was a company worth investing in.
Now, it’s Twitter’s turn to be Wall Street’s whipping boy.
After their Q1 earnings call on Tuesday, where they announced lower than expected user growth and a slight decline in timeline views per monthly active user, $TWTR dropped 13% to a low of $37 before recovering to about $40 at the time of this post. The negative press has rolled in. The Atlantic published a eulogy claiming the platform has entered it’s twilight years. Forbes claims it offers investors “silver linings but no rainbow”. Ouch.
It’s true that at 255M monthly active users and $250M in quarterly revenue, Twitter is still dwarfed by Facebook on most metrics. But to say that the current slowed growth of the platform represents the beginning of the end would be a big mistake.
Twitter is just getting started, and here’s why:
1) Twitter has immense second screen power
Let’s start with biggies.
Super Bowl XLVIII: 24.9M tweets and 57% of ads featuring a hashtag.
Oscars 2014: The biggest tweet of all time plus 3.3B views of tweets about the Oscars in just 12 hours.
When it comes to major televised events, we turn to Twitter as the Internet’s watering hole. Jokes and jabs fly in real-time, with the character limit pushing quick on-the-fly posts far more other channels. If you can’t be there live, Twitter is basically the next best thing. Particular Having established relationships with television networks and acquired Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics company you can imagine that this connection is only going to deepen.
2) Twitter just beat company and industry revenue projections
What was the big joke about Twitter in 2010? How the heck do you monetize 140 character posts about what people ate for breakfast?
We wailed on Twitter for years for having no business plan. Well guess what, the Neville Longbottom of social media has grown up and boy does he look good.
Twitter posted revenues of $250M this quarter, beating its own expectations and analyst predictions. The team has put serious effort into making more cash, which was the right move and something they’re doing better than anyone expected, but could it have come at the cost of product innovation and user engagement? It’s certainly a possibility. But I’m betting they’ve got some tricks up their sleeve.
3) Twitter’s mobile reach tops 1B users
At Percolate, we talk a lot about how mobile transformed social. We now spend nearly two-and-a-half hours every day on our mobile devices and our combined time online now dwarfs television. Twitter is a primarily mobile company with 78% of its active users signing in from their mobile devices, a stat that leads Facebook’s own mobile users by 30 basis points.
But it goes beyond their platform users. Through their acquisition of MoPub, Twitter has access to over 1B mobile users, all across the internet. As we’ve discussed here on the blog, mobile ad network are the new battleground for social networks, and this time, Facebook is playing catch up, having only just announced their own Audience Network.
4) Twitter’s acquisitions will continue to pay big dividends
Beyond MoPub, Twitter has made a number other smart acquisitions over the years:
– Crashlytics: a popular and widely respected crash reporting solution, the stand-alone service is now expanding into other areas, like app testing and distribution after Testflight dropped Android support.
– Gnip: while mobile ads accounts for the majority of Twitter revenue, data services still represent a sizable $24M or so, and likely to grow as Twitter integrates the social data provider into its offerings
5) Twitter is still the best channel to your favorite celebrity
Most social networks use a two-way relationship model. Facebook and LinkedIn both started this way, and only gradually allowed an asymmetric follow model. Twitter, from day one, allowed anyone to follow anyone. And because it’s so simple and totally public from the start, it’s become the best way to feel connected to a celebrity.
Fans know that Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Bill Gates or Marc Andreessen tweet, it’s probably a real tweet typed from their fingers. No one thinks that about their respective Facebook pages and it’s likely to stay that way.
6) Twitter is a serendipity engine
There’s something predictable about what you’ll see on Facebook. Pictures of babies and trips abroad. Rants about work or politics. Upworthy and Buzzfeed headlines. This isn’t always a negative as people tend to prefer what is familiar.
But there is something special about logging into Twitter. You can discover all kinds of magical things. When I asked my own Twitter followers what they loved most about the platform, they gave me fascinating (and sometimes silly) answers.
What's your favorite thing about Twitter?
— Jason Shen (@JasonShen) April 30, 2014
@JasonShen – It's almost like a mini blog - Live news feeds - Enables me to be more witty and creative
— Brandon Joseph (@BrandSeph) April 30, 2014
@JasonShen The simplicity and straightforwardness. (& being able to follow my fav celebrities & find out that they're giant dorks haha)
— MelissaJane Hyer (@phobic42) April 30, 2014
— MelissaJane Hyer (@phobic42) April 30, 2014
@JasonShen it's the closest thing (by a mile) that I've found to a serendipity generator.
— John Brennan (@bjp) April 30, 2014
— Erie (@Erie) April 30, 2014
7) Twitter isn’t for everyone and that’s OK
A real-time, public feed of ideas, conversations, photos, videos and more, from people all around the world, while they are out in the world, not sitting at their desks. This has been one of the big promises of the web since it was first dreamed up decades ago. And it finally exists, in a platform called Twitter, where the world comes to discuss.
Twitter is going to keep growing, there’s no question about that. How big it ultimately ends up is anyone’s guess. But remember, the web is fragmenting. Foursquare just announced they’re breaking their app in half. Facebook has continued to keep Instagram as a standalone service and has thrown major resources into Paper and Messenger, totally separate apps for separate purposes.
Not everyone is interested in becoming a broadcaster or looking to spend all their time in a totally public platform. But the visibility and influence of Twitter’s network and activity will ensure it stays a big player in social for cycles to come.