It’s been three weeks since I joined the unstoppable social-juggernaut that is Facebook. Since then, the stock is down nearly 10%. Causal? Probably not, but I can’t be certain. Coincidence? Not entirely.
Although I was inspired to join Facebook by the ever-changing life events of my moderately large extended family, I’ve had an interest in their stock since the IPO. I remember considering calling my broker when the $38 price point was announced. It seemed like a good deal at the time. Now that it’s trading for less than half of the IPO price, I suppose it’s a good thing apathy stayed my hand.
But who could stop Facebook? It seems like social networking will always be around. Barring the possibility that German-style social modesty becomes a fad in America, we’ll always be driven to show-off, or peep into virtual windows (or both). I only mention “German-style social modesty” because a friend mentioned that his friends and family in Germany found it odd and “borderline offensive” to provide such a detailed account of one’s life.
The closest competitor to Facebook is Linkedin. While they’re also a social network, Linkedin targets a slightly different audience, for a wholly different purpose. Then, there’s Twitter. While they don’t compete in the same realm as Facebook, it seems like Twitter may have an advantage: transience. Where Facebook relies on person-to-person mutual connections (“friends” in both an exact, and yet very loose sense of the word), Twitter uses “followers.” Followers aren’t necessarily “friends” in any sense of the word. You can follow someone you don’t even know on Twitter – no mutual acceptance required. While it opens the door to some obvious cyberstalking issues, it has the advantage of being quick and almost anonymous. Anonymity is, after all, one of the cornerstones of the internet. The method of sharing is also simple: 140 characters to your followers. There’s no timeline, tagging, or liking to worry about. Just don’t try to use it for private messaging. It’s not a good idea.
The bottom line is that Twitter brings in almost double the ad revenue that Facebook does. Does this mean I’ll be investing in Twitter if/when they announce an IPO? Probably not. Not yet, at least. While I like their core concept, I still feel like the experience is missing something. Maybe it’s the lack of a rich social web that shows up when you have a two-way connection. Or maybe it’s because Twitter doesn’t know I’m single, so I feel offended when it doesn’t try to hook me up with hundreds of singles in my area. Who knows?