Why Twitter Is Doomed To Disappoint Wall Street

What has Twitter done to really, truly make a success of itself? I’m a firm fan, but I do wonder what it has done to get Wall Street back on its side. From where I stand there is very little action. It reminds me of a wise executive who once reminded a conference hall that if you want to win, first you have to compete.

Everybody gets what Facebook does to bring in revenue. There are ads on our news feeds that don't really get in the way yet pay the bills. Turn to Twitter, and there is nothing like the same desire to intersperse paid-for ads or posts on a subscriber’s timeline. There is the occasional promoted post, but the main commercial activity, it would appear to me, is people paying to have themselves recommended to you to follow. 

Other than that, there used to be a lot of noise around second screening. A couple of reports have pretty much put that one to bed. Sure, people do hang around watching tv with a phone in their hand, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re second screening in the way a market means, or at least would like. Instead, they are using ad breaks to check email or look at what’s going on with Facebook and other social and messaging services they belong to.  

There has also been a lot of talk recently about how this second screening that gets marketers so excited is set to go meteoric during the Olympics. Again, however, I rather suspect some official partners or clever hijackers, like Paddy Power, will get their content shared. However, the vast majority of content sharing and chatting that marketers call second screening is done directly to friends or small groups, locked away on what’s called "dark" social.

So I think second screening is in the process of having its appeal diminished, and without a little more effort to get some promoted posts in my timeline, I can’t really see how Twitter’s going to make the kind of money it needs to in order to keep Wall Street happy.

The crux of the problem, of course, is the major difference between Facebook and Twitter. I suspect that Facebook is home to far more of a two-way discussion between friends and contacts. That’s why people actively scroll down and expose themselves to ads. With Twitter, it’s far more about broadcasting. It’s more a one way channel where people are less likely to scroll down a few pages worth of content, and unleash ads as they do so, compared to Facebook.

I have no stats or research to back this up -- just gut feeling. It’s the same gut feeling that has believed for quite some time that Twitter will never meet Wall Street’s expectations whereas Facebook will carry on smashing it out of the proverbial park. 

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