The Failure of Twitter
Twitter, a short-message social network, has some striking numbers: millions of users, billions of messages (“Tweets”), a four-year history, and no income source. Yes, that’s four years of so-called development with no source of income – until this week, when they decided advertising would be good for profits. After four years.
There are, or will be, two kinds of advertising on Twitter: promoted Tweets inside search results and promoted Tweets inside users’ streams. Despite what the majority of the Internet is saying at the moment, this type of monetization is far from revolutionary, since they’re essentially replicating Google’s inline advertising strategy. The time it took for them to reach this decision is astounding.
After receiving an accumulated $62 million in funding, the self-promotional, ego-stroking service has decided to actually attempt to be a company, typically defined as a corporate entity independent of outside funding. For almost any other company, being reliant on such massive amounts of external capital would be an exercise in a quick failure, but, for some reason, Twitter has been treated similarly to Facebook, and was subsequently given large, regular checks, irrespective of their lack of an actual business plan.
It is not enough for a programmer or two to have a “good idea” in order to form a successful company – it requires a monetization strategy. Far too many so-called innovations of the modern era follow the “develop now, think later” business strategy, assuming that funding will magically appear in order to save their wishful thinking. This is a direct result of sites like Facebook and Twitter, where everyone believes that they can develop, launch, and run indefinitely their X-meets-Y-with-Z-twist website idea.
Twitter has become obligatory for certain portions of the digital workforce, by brute force, but this does not justify its existence. More importantly, a profit model so dependent upon advertising may not work as well, in the longrun, as Twitter and others may believe – if it works at all. For the moment, Starbucks and others may find promoted and injected Tweets appealing to youngbuck marketers, but the appeal will likely fade as they realize the limited value of inserting short blurbs of nonsense into larger lists of nonsense, simply failing to produce valuable returns.
The blogs who singularly cover the echochamber of web service public relations should be ashamed of themselves for salivating over such an unoriginal, non-innovative business plan – they should know better.