How Will Twitter Stock Cope With Rising ICYMI Internet trend?

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By Jacob Maslow

Logos of Social Media Networks
Logos of Social Media Networks

What do Geocities, MySpace, and Friendster have in common? This being a finance and stock site, the first thing that might come to your mind is money. While it is true that Geocities was bought by Yahoo for billions back during the halcyon days of the First Coming of the Dot Boom era and MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s company for slightly north of a half a billion dollars, these three sites have something else in common. Give up? They are flashes in the pan. Yes, despite billions of venture capital funds, buyouts, and cash infusions, flash in the pans do happen in the otherwise reality-defying world of Internet companies. These companies died out or wore out their welcome because they couldn’t cope with changes in Internet content consumption trends.

Eventually, the appeal of easily setting up free websites wore out as tons of other free site builder competitors popped up like mushrooms after a hard spring rain. Eventually, Facebook with a more cohesive and fad-resistant content platform siphoned off the user bases of proto-social networking sites like MySpace and Friendster. It’s easy to look back and see the glaring flaws of these companies but unless you had your finger on the pulse of Internet consumption trends, you’d easily fall for the hype and think that these sites would go on for a long time.

Keep these trends in mind when analyzing Twitter stock. A lot of digital ink has been devoted to Twitter’s weak monetization strategies or whether it will actually be profitable at some point in the future. I say look closer. Focus on consumer attitudes regarding the type of content Twitter facilitates. There’s a growing backlash among influential netizens against the ICMYI mentality. ICMYI is short for ‘in case you missed it.’ Thanks to the fire hydrant blast of content facilitated by Twitter, it is very hard for netizens to keep up with all that content. Indeed, according to some estimates, over 2 million new pieces of content are published every single day. Increasingly, people are using the phrase ICMYI again and again to keep up and are getting frustrated. Rats on an information treadmill might finally get worn out and swear off such a treadmill. Where will this leave Twitter both as a stock and as a business? Maybe this is one juicy problem, Facebook could fix ala Digg. Just as Facebook dug Digg’s grave (and MySpace’s too-to a less lethal extent), Facebook might knock out Twitter too. It’s only a matter of time but here’s a hint, Facebook also has hashtags.

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