Why Twitter will Outlast Facebook.
Social Networks come and go faster then you can spell Orkut. They get hyped, gain popularity and then we all jump to the “next thing”. It’s the web 2.0 equivalent of the the cool kid mentality, and that mentality is fickle. Two years ago Myspace was all the rage but it has become a geo-citiesque wasteland populated with a remnant of teens and band pages. It quickly became a parody of itself and the public was poised to jump.
These days all the buzz has been focused on Facebook and most recently Twitter. Which causes me to wonder, Which service will I be using in 3 years?
I think the answer is Twitter. Here’s why…
The Antisocial Social Network
Facebook is very much a walled garden that is trying to capture the rest of the web within its pages. It is a self contained ecosystem that doesn’t connect into other areas of its users’ online lives. It’s a narrow one way street.
Back in the spring of 2007 Facebook announced the creation of apps and last month expanded their API, but to what end? 90% of Facebook apps are some idiotic quiz, insipid top 5 lists, or the contemptible “send flair/gift/bumper stickers” to friends. Users want real integration into Facebook but it isn’t happening.
Where are the real apps?
Let’s take a few examples. Blog/RSS integration to Facebook is rudimentary. There is little integration for major sites like Flickr and LinkedIn and even the widely used Twitter app is useless. Why can’t I have a Twitter Facebook App that advertises my tweets and profile WITHOUT spamming my Facebook friends who don’t want all my Twitter updates? (The Selective Twitter App now accomplishes this task but few are aware of it.) You can’t even find your Facebook friends on Twitter with any search or sync tool. That’s ridiculous.
The list of failures goes on and on. Brightkite, Friendfeed, Diigo, Tumblr ….etc. The app is either non existent or completely broken.
The Plays Well With Others Network
In contrast Twitter is the exact opposite of a walled garden. It’s much like an everyone into the pool network. One of the best features of Twitter is how well it connects almost every online aspect of your life. Twitter has become the de facto clearing house of your online life.
Twitter enables you to publish your blog posts, Brightkite updates, Diigo/Delicious bookmarks, Tumblr posts, Friendfeed Conversations, and with RSS it can incorporate almost any other web service you can imagine.
It’s worth noting that most of these features are not a function of Twitter itself but the instead are included in the 3rd party app or via some Twitter web tool (Twitpic, Twitterfeed, etc). However, this is a direct result of Twitters platform, popularity, and API. Twitter encouraged the development and the world exploded with Tie-Ins to twitter. So much so that you can even set your plant to twitter when it needs water or you can have your cat door tweet when the cat goes out. (It’s late, I’m lazy, use Google to find them).
The Final Word
I won’t declare Facebook dead in the water because the expanded API may be an indication that they are trying to adapt but I think it will require an intentional effort on Facebook’s part, not to mention some much needed profile/update layout redesign. Even the recent acquisition of Friendfeed could well expand their input mechanism but I have my doubts about their goal of using that content outside of Facebook.
And who is to say that Twitter won’t try to build some walls some day in the future. I doubt it but you never know, see their latest replies fiasco.
In the end Social Media networks must understand that their power is directly tied to the ability to plug other services into that network. Facebook has yet to realize this and Twitter has capitalized on it.
Facebook is positioning itself to be the replacement web instead of contributing to the existing web. That’s why I will still be on Twitter in 2012. What do you think? Find me on Twitter as @tsudo.