Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Facebook is Bagging Twitter

Twitter is really annoying to Facebook.

Facebook had status messages before Twitter started, it has a huge audience, and its newsfeed messages are much more interesting than Tweets since they include tagged photos, events, videos, and messages from widgets and other sites via Facebook Connect. Yet more and more people are using Twitter. Facebook was spurned when trying to acquire Twitter, so instead, they are replicating its functionality, just like they did with FriendFeed's feature set.

Here's Facebook's 3-step plan for neutralizing Twitter:

1. March 4: Make Pages look like Profiles

Facebook has a big distinction between a person's profile and a fan page. They just fixed this so that the two look alike, and the "real time feed" — or wall — is front and center in both. Now, like Twitter, there is no difference between a person, a company, or a product.

2. March 16: Make Profiles Public

Facebook just changed its privacy settings so that people can make their profile so that everyone can see it. This is a long time coming. Before, you could set it so that your "networks" could see your profile, but anybody could join an arbitrary geographic network, such as the San Francisco network, so there really was no network-level privacy, it was a holdover from college-specific networks. Now, as with Twitter, you can let anyone see what you are up to.

3. Up Next: Make Public Profiles Followable

This is the last step. A "Follow" button (I like "Fan" better, but let's see what happens) that lets you follow a public profile and then integrate the profiles newsfeed into your homepage just as if you had become Facebook friends with the person. Following would be different than friend-ing and therefore not subject to a 5,000 person limit, just like Fan Pages currently work on Facebook. With this feature, anyone will be able to follow people, companies, and products that they are interested in, and be able to participate in conversations by commenting on newsfeed items.

Twitter is a fantastic service, but it is hobbled because it does not include all the random stuff that Facebook has that makes Facebook truly interesting, such as a party a person is going to, a photo they were tagged in, or activity they have done an another site such as a Yelp review. Facebook already has a huge audience that is 175x the size of Twitter, and by offering similar features will be able to stem the Twitter tide.

And no Fail Whale.

4 comments:

AJAG said...

I see it as convergence in the space - the context of use is completely different though.

Don't write off twitter yet.

Nick said...

And Microsoft will neutralize Apple through a three-step process:
1. Introduce Zune
2. Bundle home media controller
3. Bundle movie editing software...

Twitter is fundamentally different - both should exist. At least for now.

Peter Yared said...

@Nick lol. But there is a difference here: Apple already has a huge customer base that Microsoft is trying to penetrate. With Facebook and Twitter the situation is reversed. This is more like how Microsoft neutralized Netscape. Take your monopoly share, add the competition's features, and neutralize them even if your implementation isn't as good.

Graham said...

I totally agree Peter; there is no reason to have both Facebook and Twitter. It should be easier for Facebook to subsume Twitter than the other way around.

Cheers,
Graham