Our friends over at InsideFacebook got time to talk with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg about the social media giant. In that conversation, Twitter came up (as it will do in any technology talk), and Mark had some very interesting things to say on the topic of its growth:
I looked at their [Twitter's growth] rate and thought if this continues for 12 months or 18 months, then in a year they’re going to be bigger than us. I guess I extrapolated too much from our own experience of what was possible, but it just turned out that that their growth rate was kind of unnatural. They got a lot of media attention, and it grew very quickly for a little period of time. [Emphasis via TNW]
To paraphrase what Mark said, Twitter grew at an amazing rate for a brief window of time, and that growth was not due to the organic strength of the company exclusively, but was also due to external factors outside of the company’s control.
Did the hype around Twitter’s growth help to fuel Twitter’s growth? The question has merit. Twitter did succeed in finding (some would say suffered through due to capacity related downtime) growth that was so dramatic that it in and of itself was a story external to the core myth of Twitter: that this little message service was going to shake up the world. Talking about Twitter’s growth was fashionable nation wide.
Twitter is still growing, and last we checked was adding some 300,000 users a day. That is nothing to shake a stick at. Facebook is growing faster than that, and has (backed up by average usage statistics) a much higher user retention rate. This is reflected in the graphs of Twitter’s traffic that we have access to publicly; Twitter is not growing as it once was. The days of hockey stick style growth are over.
Of course Facebook is not growing (on a percentage level) as fast as it did in the past. Mark Zuckerberg in the same interview said:
We saw our exponential growth rate continue for a very long period of time, and it still does at a super-linear rate, though not quite 3% a week any more.
Facebook is not growing on the same percentage rate as it used to, but it is still growing absolutely faster than Twitter is, and with better retention. It seems that the company that was supposed to keep him up at night is not something to cause nightmares for any Facebook executive. Lead on, Mark.