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The story behind how Facebook eventually crushed Twitter

Twitter was introduced in March 2006. That same year, in September, Facebook came along with the News Feed. The two were seminal products that served to bring together users, content, and a platform for reading all in one place. So how did one crush the other?

UX writing

Two platforms, one winner

Twitter was introduced in March 2006. That same year, in September, Facebook came along with the News Feed. The two were seminal products that served to bring together users, content, and a platform for reading all in one place.

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Twitter’s rise and fall

Both products were expected to go far and saw soaring positive use. Twitter, for instance, showed their user base grew exponentially from between 2006 and 2010, with the most growth occurring after 2008. However, later in 2010, it appeared that the numbers had peaked. Surprisingly, Twitter’s growth began to dramatically decelerate. The media began to notice and report the sudden decline in Twitter’s previously upward growth. Until that point, Twitter’s growth had been phenomenal, so the sudden demise was a bit jarring and began raising questions related to why it had happened.

All about the feed

As Ben Thompson noted in his blog, Stratechery, the feed allows for an advertising unit that is actually superior to anything found on the desktop. The feed almost forces users into a singular experience because they have no choice but to engage with whatever it displays on the screen.

A feed that users willingly and actively return to each day is the foundation of a successful mobile product, and none is more successful than Facebook. In fact, Ben Thompson would argue that the feed is so important that it is the main reason why Facebook has soared past Twitter.

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While Twitter saw a dramatic decline, Facebook’s growth continued on an upward trajectory. There were a few reasons behind the dramatic difference between Facebook and Twitter’s growth. Mainly, Facebook was immediately approachable and useful because it relied on an already existing real-world network of people you already knew.

Competing for attention

It is the unfortunate fact that, every form of media, particularly Facebook and Twitter are all vying for attention. When it came to acquiring the scare resource, Facebook had the upper hand. Not only was it easier to get started with Facebook, but it was also more likely that the service had enough interesting content to capture users attention entirely. Unfortunately for Twitter, the company still can’t capture the attention market in 2016, even with new product development such as Moment. Facebook’s interest graph is simply put, far more engaging and easier-to-use. Therefore, it’s not simply that Twitter needs to convince users to give the service a second-chance.

Twitter has failed to present a clear reason to users as to why they should even bother looking up from their Facebook feeds to notice the service.

#FallOfTwitter

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Written By

Nichole earned a Master's in Sociology from Texas State University and has publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has spent her career in tech and advertising. Her writing interests include the intersection of tech and society. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University.

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