A stock flutter on Twitter will make it move quicker

Twitter has already come a long way since Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet (“just setting up my twttr”) in a San Francisco office in 2006 – but marketers should expect even more rapid innovation when it floats on the stock market as the company will be put under increased pressure to prove its long-term financial viability. 

Lara O'Reilly

The micro-blogging/social networking site has not given much away about its S-1 filing to the SEC, as under the 2012 JOBS Act companies with revenue below $1bn can file confidentially.

But, from what we have learnt from Facebook’s IPO in 2012 and current market intelligence on Twitter, the company’s move to go public will definitely directly affect marketers, who it relies  on for practically all of its revenue.

It took investors little time to notice after reading its S-1 filing last year that a lack of mobile focus was a fundamental flaw in Facebook’s offering. As a result, Facebook’s share price tanked well below its debut price of $38, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitting in July the company was “really much closer to the beginning than the end” in terms of its mobile journey.

Facebook’s share price this week – in a very timely fashion, considering Twitter’s announcement – hit an all-time high of more than $45. What a difference a year makes. And what a different site Facebook now is compared to 2012.

In that short period of time Facebook has, in chronological order:  published research to prove the effectiveness of its platform to marketers, opened up real time bidding, ditched its virtual currency Credits, struck an ad partnership with Yahoo!, launched the Sponsored Stories ad format, clamped down on fake profiles, axed its Reach Generator ad format, launched a mobile ad network, developed a new ROI measurement tool, created Graph Search, bought online ad suite Atlas, began to roll out a major redesign, launched an acquisition ad tool dubbed Lookalike Audiences, unveiled Facebook Home, signed a deal with research firm Datalogix, streamlined its ad options, introduced hashtags, made tweaks to Newsfeed to bump up popular content and began to test mobile payments.

Phew. It’s fair to say Facebook has been a bit busy. And so it must be, with investors to answer to and quarterly expectations to live up to and improve upon, Facebook has to prove it is constantly innovating to unlock new revenue streams.

No doubt I will be able to ring off a similarly lengthy list a year on from Twitter’s debut on the stock market. No doubt it will have been watching Facebook’s last 12 months closely as it hopes not to repeat its rivals initial bungled months on the Nasdaq but also how it has embarked on a swift turnaround to a more comfortable share price. 

Much of the groundwork has already been done, not least because Twitter is an intrinsically mobile service and that its advertising is seamlessly integrated into the feed so as not to disrupt consumers’ use of the site. 

To prove that it has a model for growth it is likely we will see its offering become ever more visual and increasingly linked with commerce as it bids to convince investors it is keeping up with the rapid pace of change on mobile and digital. And to make all its updates profitable, just like Facebook, Twitter will need to do even more work behind the scenes to convince marketers of the value of advertising on its platform over and above the many other online services available.

Think Twitter was already a speedy operator? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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