2009: The impact of Facebook and Twitter on social networking
2009 has been the Year of Twitter and Facebook. The micro-blogging service Twitter’s mainstream popularity exploded while Facebook passed MySpace to become the world’s leading social network. Facebook doubled their size this year from 150 million users to 350 million users. With 350 million members, if Facebook was a country it would be the fourth most populous nation. On the other hand, Twitter had a count of two to four million users at the beginning of the year. Now there are near 40 million, a 10-20X explosion over the year.
The flight of Twitter :Twitter has reportedly spurned takeover offers worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Google and Facebook, and its influence as a communications and news-breaking tool has been validated in a number of ways over the past year. Twitter’s potential for instant, up-to-the-minute news delivery became evident in the 2008 presidential elections. And it grew ever more prominent with big-time news events in ’09 like the Hudson river emergency plane landing, the death of pop star Michael Jackson. In June, the State Department (US Fed) asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance on the service because it was being used by protestors angered by the results of Iran’s disputed presidential election. More recently, Google and Microsoft began integrating Twitter messages into their respective search engines, a new feature described as real-time search. Rampant adoption of smartphones has much to do with Twitter’s growth. Twitter has developed into a communications platform, a hybrid between instant messenger and email.
Facebook started making money: Facebook, which started the trend of opening up to outside creators of fun mini-programs, was also quick to realize the appeal of being able to connect from anywhere at any time. The thing they’ve done and MySpace didn’t do is they’ve really expanded the scope of their network past the initial site, Facebook Connect is a big piece of that, where the user can take his Facebook account and log in from other places. In ’07 and ’08, the hot developer trend was to build an application for Facebook’s platform that members could install and share with their friends; in ’09, the usage multiplied so much that the platform clogged and spam concerns caused Facebook to crack down on the rules. Some Facebook Platform apps continued to flourish phenomenally–namely, games. Companies like Zynga, Playfish and Playdom manufactured one “social game” after another, pulling in revenue that collectively may have surpassed Facebook’s own. Thanks in part to the phenomenal traffic of these apps and the ad space that app makers purchased to pull in even more players, Facebook became cash flow positive well ahead of schedule.
The effect of Twitter and Facebook is in the manner they are redefining the way in which companies or politicians relate to their consumers or constituents. Companies or politicians who have taken to Facebook or Twitter or YouTube are building more of a permanent relationship with their constituents or with their customers because they’re engaged in a conversation
Continued: Comparing users and usages of Twitter and Facebook
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