Facebook and Twitter Drawing the Lines

The past few months have we’ve seen Facebook and Twitter coming of age. Facebook evolves itself from being an Internet phenomenon to a publicly traded company, while Twitter evolves from being an open community led by an idea to a revenue-generating business.

Now, the two find themselves trying to appeal to three different stakeholders at the core of their platforms while maturing themselves. Change is never easy on the platform or its stakeholders, and these two find themselves evolving and in need of those stakeholders more than ever.

The Advertisers

This is the cream of the crop for both networks, which are trying to prove that they’re financially sound. Facebook’s recently introduced an ad exchange as well as the ability to target users by phone or email.

Twitter is working to appeal to advertisers more than ever by introducing new ad targeting capabilities, brand profiles (at the end of last year) and, most recently, working to get every user back into an ecosystem it can control, which means many third-party Twitter apps may be coming to an end.

Facebook and Twitter are working to cater to advertisers, which should certainly make businesses happy and view them as more attractive options, but that’s only if they can both keep their other users bought-in.

The Users

The user is critical for both platforms because they’re also the product. Without the user, advertisers have nothing to buy. The challenge Facebook and Twitter face is maintaining an optimal user experience, while also leveraging more user data and introducing more advertising, which users have cited as being big concerns.

The Developers

This group isn’t often the focus, but they’ve proven essential. Twitter was built on a developer community that created third-party apps, visualized Twitter data and created multiple tools to make the platform easier to use. Twitter’s recent moves to clamp down on its API have certainly hindered its relationship with the community, which means Twitter will soon be very reliant on advertisers and users for most of its success.

Facebook, on the other hand, leverages developers highly with its OpenGraph API, which allows Facebook to spread across the web in multiple forms. Developers are critical for Facebook’s web expansion. But Facebook must also play the role of referee by ensuring user data is protected (for the most part), while allowing developers to do enough with the user data to grow the userbases of their products.

Lines Are Being Drawn

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, right? As Facebook and Twitter move forward they have to and are breaking a few eggs. The next few months we’ll see them try to strike an effective balance between these three groups, but at the end of the day they each want different things.