3 Jan 2010

2010 – the trend away from Facebook and Twitter

Posted by kilbot | Filed under: News

The biggest tech story of 2009 has to be the astounding growth of the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. After disposing of rival MySpace in 2008, Facebook now achieves figures comparable to Google – around 130 million unique visitors daily and over 350 million registered users, adding a staggering 500,000 users every day. Yet this story was overshadowed (in hype at least) as Twitter hit the mainstream and finished the year with around 20 million unique visitors daily and an estimated 12 million registered users.

These two companies show little sign of slowing down, but I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that 2010 will be the year that users begin to move away from social networking sites and back to the ancient art of blogging. Here’s why …

Two things will happen in 2010;

  1. Facebook will go public.
  2. Twitter will be bought (probably by Google after a bidding war with Facebook) .

It is not the action of going public or being bought that will turn users away – but the news reports of huge sums of money being paid for our content should be a penny-dropping moment for a lot of people. Let’s say Facebook raises $5 billion in an IPO (even in a depressed stock market this should be a relatively conservative estimate) that values each user at roughly $15 per user or $40 per active user. If the creators of Twitter cash out for the bargain price of $0.5 billion that values each user at $40 per user. $40, $15, hell, even $10… doesn’t the thought pop into your head, “Hey, that’s my $10 goddamn it!” And in a round about way it is.

If you are writing a note about your favourite foods – why shouldn’t you get paid for the weight loss ads? If you’ve just finished a really good book – why shouldn’t it be your affiliate link to Amazon? Even without the advertising and monetising angle … why should you be building value for a third party when you could be investing equity in your own business or in your own brand?

In 2010, I predict we will see old blogs revived and new blogs created by people keen to take control (and take advantage) of their own content. Status updates will originate on personal websites and then be broadcast to Twitter and Facebook or directly to Google. Photos may be hosted on Facebook or Twitpic or Posterous but the reference and discussion will take place on the blog. Farmville won’t be a pixelated pig, it will be a short video of a backyard and a poll on what to grow this season. OK, that last one may be wishful thinking.

Facebook and Twitter will still be important platforms – Facebook will still be a valuable tool for friends and family to keep in touch and Twitter will still be useful for unearthing the latest news stories and gossip – but the most active and prolific content creators on these sites will seek to change the focus back to their own personal websites. Indeed, some would argue this is already the case for Twitter – it’s role in marketing and link building has eclipsed it’s early life as a way for geeks to meet up at SXSW.

“What are you doing?” Come to my blog and find out.

  • Well said. I've long thought that the time would come when Facebook would lose it's “newness” and it's “novelty”. I do think it's coming. If people used Facebook for what it's meant for – connecting people – it will remain a well-used tool for a long time. However, to monetise it, the apps have to exist for Facebook to exist as a whole. They are at the point where they have to find the balance. Do they go public? Probably, but I'm not convinced it's the right time. The right I think was 12-18 months ago. Twitter is interesting because it's far more “generic” than Facebook, so as a framework for other uses, it's got much more potential for “add-on” success than does Facebook.

  • Twitter would be crazy not to sell this year and Google would be crazy not to buy it, they need each other. Twitter's value is in data-mining; search, trending topics, news (both authoritative and gossip) … Google can monetise that data and needs a better implementation than the clumsy real-time results they released recently. I really think we will see Twitter data going directly into the Google search engine by the end of the year.

    Facebook is harder to predict. It's a huge presence on the net and still really important for a lot of people… but things are a changing. Facebook Connect and all the moves toward opening user data may be it's undoing. I hardly ever visit the actual Facebook website anymore, I chat through Adium and scan my newsfeed on Tweetdeck.

    If Facebook open up their content to search as they seem to want to (and if users let them), then I can really see why I wouldn't just go to Google or YouTube or Flickr or Delicious or Digg .. it just becomes another aggregation service.

  • sue_anne

    I agree Twitter is itching to be bought. Google is likely … I don't think Facebook would survive a serious bidding war. I think the only way Facebook is even in the game is if something pisses off @ev and they sell it to Zuckerberg under the table.

  • sue_anne

    I agree Twitter is itching to be bought. Google is likely … I don't think Facebook would survive a serious bidding war. I think the only way Facebook is even in the game is if something pisses off @ev and they sell it to Zuckerberg under the table.

  • I like the idea that people might stop faffing (farmville) and start doing something more meaningful like growing things. Might not be wishful thinking.

  • Looks like Google is sidestepping an acquisition and going for the end game with Buzz http://code.google.com/apis/buzz/. The guys at Twitter would have to be weighing up their options to cash out now or dig in for the long haul… which is not impossible, Yahoo beats Google in mail (about 250 million users for Yahoo, around 100 million for GMail).

  • Barnsworth

    edit req'd: only 130 unique visitors daily?? (para 1) Feel free to delete comment once read. :-)

  • Thanks Barn, it should be 130 *million* (http://siteanalytics.compete.com/google.com+fac…)

    That was then of course, nowadays Facebook is getting ready to announce it's 500 millionth user, that's about 1 in 3 of all internet users have a Facebook account … staggering.

    However, there is a change in public perception of Facebook, people are leaving due to privacy concerns (http://www.quitfacebookday.com/) and there is the bad stories that will (unfortunately) follow any social networking site (http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s290530…).

    I am not cheering Facebook's demise, I hope it exists if only as a very convenient phonebook of everyone I have ever met – and a few that I haven't met ;p … I just have no interest putting my photos, videos, thoughts into their system.

  • M G Thomas

    I think facebook can play an important role connecting people with similar social and environmental concerns. For example when people unite to promote human rights and link to action based websites much information flow and action in the right direction is possible….that a online petition can attract thousands of signatures within a few hours because of networking sites like facebook/twitter just shows how powerful the idea of globally connecting the like-minded is.