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Twitter growth and hype continue

As reported on Mashable in early April Twitter and Facebook both had fantastic months in March – with Twitter posting 77% growth in that single month from an already sizeable base.  See the chart below for US monthly unique figures for both sites.

twitter-facebook growth

Moreover, since then according to Techcrunch’s sources “close to the company” growth has accelerated to 40% per week and they now have 25m users.

When I read these numbers my first thought was to wonder whether their investors would prefer to see traffic growth at say half these levels, but with more progress on monetisation – particularly as there is an Indian Twitter look-alike is apparently making $150k per month.  However, by the time I had reached the end of the Techcrunch piece I had my answer, as the latest (admittedly weak) rumours are that Apple is in talks to buy the business for $700m.  (As an interesting aside the article also notes that the founders were partially cashed out in the last round so they are now “fully aligned” with their investors – a concept we have been pushing here for some time and one that contributed to the success of buy.at.)

That said, I think that for all but the most exciting social media brands (which is probably limited to Twitter and Facebook right now) I think that it is preferable to be mid-sized and profitable than large and loss-making.  This is in contrast to the situation a couple of years ago when big exits were available for many high profile social media businesses that had yet to prove their business models.  I don’t think those days will be back any time soon.

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Fabio-De-Bernardi/699416586 Fabio De Bernardi

    My 2p on Twitter growth… Twitter isn't a straight forward service and it takes time to a) understand it and b) use it in a meaningful way. I mean a meaningful way to justify the time you spend on it as a user. Now, I have no hard data to support this, but my gut feeling is that the 40% growth after Oprah appearance is very likely to be very poor in terms of quality. How many of those 7M-ish new users will stick around? 1%? Yeah, 1% is my guess.
    At the same time the percentage of spam/fake accounts following me in the past 2 weeks has definitely grown by more than 40%.

  • http://www.thecoffeeshopsofmayfair.com Paul Fisher

    Nic I wonder how long twitter will be able to sustain this: 1) Is it just a feature? 2) Neilsen points to Attrition being very very high. http://tinyurl.com/cyr3l7 haven't you found it becoming just far less useful? http://tinyurl.com/c4yawk

  • http://www.theequitykicker.com brisbourne

    Good questions Paul – and they are the big ones for Twitter. Personally I am using it more and more.

  • http://www.theequitykicker.com brisbourne

    Thanks Thom – it would be interesting to see an analysis of what activity across the user base and also how many people's tweets are screened by Tweetdeck et al

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  • http://www.edocr.com Manoj Ranaweera

    Like the idea of letting founders cash in during investment rounds. See you on the 8th June at http://www.nwstartup20.co.uk/jun09. Had to postpone commercialisation of edocr.com till June 1st due to few technology hiccups in migrating the front-end to EC2. Here is our first commercial application http://www.edocr.com/organisation

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Fabio-De-Bernardi/699416586 Fabio De Bernardi

    My 2p on Twitter growth… Twitter isn't a straight forward service and it takes time to a) understand it and b) use it in a meaningful way. I mean a meaningful way to justify the time you spend on it as a user. Now, I have no hard data to support this, but my gut feeling is that the 40% growth after Oprah appearance is very likely to be very poor in terms of quality. How many of those 7M-ish new users will stick around? 1%? Yeah, 1% is my guess.
    At the same time the percentage of spam/fake accounts following me in the past 2 weeks has definitely grown by more than 40%.

  • http://www.thomsinger.com thom singer

    Social Media is all still so new that mid-sized and profitable has no way of proving to anyone that there is any sustainability. The HUGE hype that Twitter and Facebook have is the most important part for them…. as people are fickle and could lose interest for a new toy. MySpace is rarely mentioned, but two years ago was all the rage (although they still have users, I have not heard anyone mention them in a long time).

    The problem with Twitter is that there are a lot of users who never do crap with their accounts, and too many people have followers who ignore them by using Tweet Deck (and others). Thus, what is the point if nobody is listening.

    But hype will always be a wonderful tool for companies if they can ride the wave.

    Don't get me wrong, I use Twitter (and like it) and have discovered some captivating personalities from whom I learn. But not sure it has really grown… most folks seem to open an account and get bored quickly, which makes me question its real impact.

  • http://www.thecoffeeshopsofmayfair.com Paul Fisher

    Nic I wonder how long twitter will be able to sustain this: 1) Is it just a feature? 2) Neilsen points to Attrition being very very high. http://tinyurl.com/cyr3l7 haven't you found it becoming just far less useful? http://tinyurl.com/c4yawk

  • http://www.theequitykicker.com brisbourne

    Good questions Paul – and they are the big ones for Twitter. Personally I am using it more and more.

  • http://www.theequitykicker.com brisbourne

    Thanks Thom – it would be interesting to see an analysis of what activity across the user base and also how many people's tweets are screened by Tweetdeck et al

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