Twitter vs Facebook

Posted by kdow on Feb 20, 2017 12:47:00 PM

If you read stories about either Twitter or Facebook, the narrative is that Facebook is doing great & Twitter is dying a slow, gruesome death written by George R.R. Martin.

One thing worth considering in all of this is that we keep measuring user engagement & new user signups as the key metric of how strong a social business is. Facebook has stopped worrying as much about that stuff, and is now capable of honing in on the important stuff: cash money. But the people, and importantly, the investors, still want to see growth in both cash reserves as well as in new users. Because in their world, new eyeballs equals new revenue sources.

Twitter has been lead down a strange path in the same vein. They keep reporting stagnant growth in their user base, which is killing their ability to raise capital. However, if they reported different numbers I think they would be a solid business. No one promotes Facebook posts during big football games or TV series finales!

I could be utterly wrong, but I think Twitter is probably doing better than we all think. A quick look at Google Trends suggests so, too.

12 month interest in Facebook

12 month interest in Twitter

This is slightly anecdotal, but Twitter is hovering around where Facebook interest was about 12 months ago. Moreso, Twitter’s overall trend is going upwards, whereas Facebook’s interest is trending downwards.

These searches could mean nothing, and trends can hide a lot of bullshit in the long grass. But given these are social platforms with a huge amount of people talking about them, it’s fair to suggest that there’s something hiding in these numbers. Maybe Twitter bottomed out a while ago and is on the ascension, while Facebook is in decline but hiding it by acquiring new users & business models with WhatsApp, Oculus, etc.

That said, I’m a little annoyed that Twitter sold off it’s developer tool’s business, Fabric (most commonly known for Crashlytics). It’s a shame, and I hope they retain Bootstrap, but it’s a clear sign that under Jack Dorsey, ironically, Twitter doesn’t care about being a platform. And even more ironically, my experience of Twitter is through Tweetbot, which is a more purist view into how Twitter works (i.e. it feels like what Twitter was a few years ago, without the bells & whistles of the modern service). But maybe that says more about my bias than anything else