Everybody loves to get behind the hot young startup and embrace it as if it’s the greatest thing in the world since sliced bread. Turntable.fm and Instagram are the latest examples with people in the know shouting and screaming from the rooftops about how amazing they are. When you see something special for the first time you just get that feeling in your stomach that you are in at the ground level and you are bursting with excitement waiting for the rest of the world to find out.
People used to have that same feeling with Twitter and before that with Facebook. For a couple of years the online geeky community (I don’t say geeky in a negative way because I was one) knew about Twitter, understood it’s power and every piece of news coverage or mainstream attention was cheered as if we all owned shares in the company. Facebook was exclusive at the start too. Only my young cool “in-the-know” friends were on it for a couple of years. Most people looked at us talking about Facebook as if we had two heads and presumed it was some passing trend for kids. We’ve hit a very different situation now where Facebook and Twitter have hit the mainstream and for the first time in my recollection the press is starting to turn a little on them both…
It’s only really started in the last couple of weeks but there have been examples like this one on CNN writing off Facebook and saying that Twitter is the new Facebook. Blogs like Techcrunch have also been ripping in to their PR department. The biggest article though was this one on Inside Facebook which claimed that Facebook’s numbers were on the wane for the first time ever and that they could struggle to grow much further. That one blog post was picked up on blogs all over the world and even made it in to the mainstream media with the picture below featuring a full page story in the Sunday Times about people leaving Facebook and it no longer being cool. Even the people who thought that Twitter was cool at the start are starting to get annoyed with it as you can see from this blog post and the excellent comments below.
No Longer The Underdogs
The problem here for Facebook and Twitter is that they are starting to become so ubiquitous that they are no longer exciting. I remember when mobile phones and SMS came on the scene it was the greatest thing we had ever seen at the time and there was endless buzz. We take SMS for granted now and there is nothing sexy about it and that is where Facebook and Twitter are headed. Ubiquity. With revenues of over 2 billion and closing in on a billion users Facebook is no longer a startup. No longer an underdog. A couple of years ago, it could have gone the same way as a Myspace or a Friendster but it’s everywhere now. If anything, Facebook is the new Google, not in terms of what it does, but in terms of a company that has transitioned from startup to big tech giant that makes lots of money. Twitter still has a slight tag of underdog about it but it is also too important as a communication tool to just fade away. Just look at the way that Apple is baking Twitter in to every single one of their mobile devices. Sure people will start to use it in a different way and it will evolve but it is certainly here to stay.
The Cool Startups Are Elsewhere
So Facebook and Twitter are here to stay and will continue to play an important part in all out lives for the next 5 years. When things hit the mainstream in such a way they tend to lose a certain audience. Some people don’t really want to hang around with their mums and family on Facebook and would rather be spinning tracks on Turntable or sharing their drunken photos on something like Instagram with their young friends. Facebook and Twitter are so big now that they stifle any innovation and just copy features that work from around the web. The really cool things happening in social media are happening in small 10 people start ups which could see another break out success come soon along the lines of a Twitter or a Facebook. Listen out for all the early adopters shouting about them but if it is a mainstream audience that you want the best bet is Twitter and Facebook.
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