The popularity of the “What’s next for Facebook?” post prompted me to write one for the other big social engagement tool- Twitter.
Twitter has been growing at a steady clip in all directions- users and their tweets, funding, valuation and employees. It has only gotten more popular with every event- political, natural and pretty much anything that spans the zeitgeist. The only thing missing is revenue to show for all the popularity. Dont get me wrong- Twitter has actually been working on a business plan the last year or two and has shown some income. Just not the kind that befits its user base and popularity. Analysts and the business community are still waiting for Twitter to hit revenue mainstream. Given all this, what is in Twitter’s near and far term future?. Lets speculate.
First off, Twitter is launching its new ad system scheduled to go live in the coming months. This should supposedly give them more revenue without riling up the user base. To this effect, one of the key tasks of Twitter over the last year or so has been to purchase third party Twitter client companies [Tweetie][Tweetdeck]. This gives them complete control over the Twitter eco-system as it is viewed on a PC and on a mobile device. They also recently picked up Backtype, a key analytics company that gives Twitter the ability to sell analytics data on its platform. Between the new ad system and the Backtype purchase, Twitter will be looking to sell advertisers not just ads but metrics on ad clickthrough and all the associated good stuff.
The executive musical chairs game continues in the meantime with founders leaving, founder returning and what not. While this may not appear to be disruptive to the product as perceived by the consumers, there is definitely a sense of worry in the future direction for the company.
And then there is always the talk of Twitter getting bought out- by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and the likes. Google of course being mentioned more times than the rest. It is tantalizing to think of what a Google-Twitter marriage would look like. Until recently, Google had a deal with Twitter to show tweets on a trending topic as part of Google Real-Time search. This ended due to the deal not getting renewed but a Google-Twitter alliance could see it being revived and integrated even better. Google+ is also an intriguing element of Google that could be vastly benefited by Twitter integration. Finally, as ads are rolling out in Twitter in a meaningful fashion, Google’s tremendous expertise in the area could see the property being monetized the way it was always meant to be.
At this point, Twitter is as much a part of the internet lingo as Google and Facebook are. It has tremendous name value in addition to its vast reach. But it still hasn’t shown that it can convert all that to good revenue. It can be done- the question is if it will be done alone or with the power of Google behind it.