Facebook and Twitter growth just now slowing

Ronny Kerr · February 24, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/176f

Nine in 10 social network users will use Facebook in 2012 versus just two in 10 on Twitter

Facebook isn’t done growing in the United States. Far from it.
As of the end of 2010, 116.8 million people in the U.S. (more than half of all Internet users in the country) logged into Facebook at least once monthly, according to a new report from eMarketer. The digital media researcher expects that number to increase 13.4 percent to 132.5 million this year, meaning growth for the site has slowed considerably, but not entirely.
By 2012, eMarketer expects Facebook to have 143.4 million U.S. users logging into the site at least once monthly, meaning nine in 10 social network users and six in 10 Internet users will be on the site. That means 45.3 percent of the entire population will be regular users of the social site. You can hardly find that much of a consensus from citizens voting in the presidential election.

The data indicates that Facebook won’t be seeing anymore double-digit growth rates, but the same can’t be said of Twitter.

Still, at the end of 2010, only 16.4 million U.S. adults logged into Twitter at least once monthly. (For perspective, Facebook will be adding about that many U.S. users this year alone.) Twitter’s U.S. audience will increase 26.3 percent this year to 20.6 million. Double-digit growth will continue through 2013 for the young microblogging site.
Based on eMarketer’s numbers, 18 percent of adult social network users and 12.5 percent of adult Internet users will be using Twitter by 2012. Just one in 10 of U.S. adults will be on the site at least once monthly.
All of this is curious because it proves, once again, that Twitter’s influence might be vastly overrated. Whenever we speak of social media and networking, we cannot resist citing the big two (Facebook and Twitter), when it’s really only the former that has captivated such a massive quantity of minds here in the U.S. and abroad too. That said, both services are still less than a decade old, and time will judge which has the most long-term influence.

(It's worth noting, however, that eMarketer's numbers for Twitter only looked at adults, while the numbers for Facebook evaluate all ages.)
For the best evidence of Facebook’s very real significance today, however, we need only look to where investor money is flowing. In just the last week, three different social media management companies (Sprout Social, Syncapse and Vitrue) have raised a total of $52 million from a variety of institutional investors.


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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.