Facebook wants to be your date book too

Ronny Kerr · July 9, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/951

Encouraging us to make events for small meetings, Facebook encroaches on Twitter territory yet again

Facebook vs Twitter“Anyone want to grab a bite in a few minutes?”

Short, sweet, and purposeful—this is how Facebook envisions its users utilizing status updates on its site with the latest update to the Facebook Events application. Announced on the Facebook blog yesterday, this new update hopes to make sharing an event with family and friends as instant and easy as it is now to share a link or video.

Clicking the “Events” icon—in the same way that users currently select “Link” or “Video”—opens up an interface for inputting the title, location, and time of the event you wish to create. After publishing the event to your and your friends’ news feeds, you can invite friends, limit the event to certain people, or add various other specifications to the event.

Facebook Events

This is the second piece of news from the Facebook blog in two weeks that can be interpreted as the social networking giant planting itself firmly in Twitter’s market space. The first came on June 24 when Facebook announced the launch of the Facebook Live Stream Box, a tool that allows users to comment in a real-time, Twitter-like conversation alongside a live stream of timely events like sports games or political meetings.

While Facebook continues to make repeatedly aggressive moves into multifarious arenas—real-time chat, event planning, celebrity networking—I can’t help but wonder what Twitter’s long-term plans are. Each of Facebook’s latest updates signal a migration toward a focus on answering the question, “What are you doing?” as succinctly and precisely as possible.

I am going to lunch right now. I am watching Monday Night Football. I’m following President Obama’s discussion on the future of health care.

While Twitter remains essentially software for status updates, Facebook is evolving quickly into an extremely useful and, for some, completely necessary online suite. Whether Twitter will or wants to respond to this fact, we have yet to see.

(image sources: JESS3 Blog & Facebook Blog)

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.