Twitter Continues Fall Back to Earth

Jacob Harper  |

While Facebook (FB) has climbed up the charts, steadily gaining momentum all year, Twitter (TWTR) has done quite the opposite. Coming off a red-hot IPO that saw shares gap over 70 percent on the first day, and continue to rise after that, Twitter has cooled in 2014, shedding 14.38 percent of its value coming into the Mar 13 trading day.

As the two highest volume American social media plays of 2014, Twitter and Facebook are often grouped together in conversation. But the two stocks by no means move in tandem, and over the last several weeks have pretty much performed inversely to one another.

This can most likely be attributed to the company’s approach to the social media industry. In contrast to what Facebook is doing right, Twitter is doing wrong. To wit:

In the nascent social media industry, explosive growth is an absolute necessity. In their inaugural earnings report, Twitter grew revenue, but spent far too much money, racking up far greater losses than analysts anticipated. While tech investors are a little more forgiving of losses than many other sector players, a net loss of $511 million (versus $253 expected) coupled with a forward P/E of 253, is simply too much to ignore.  

In a conference call following that inaugural earnings report, Twitter higher-ups admitted that they needed to make Twitter easier and simpler to use. While technorati scoff at the idea of a relatively simple service like Twitter being labeled complex, the truth is that user growth rate for Twitter is much slower than what the company wanted, and the main culprit was a lack of adoption with emerging market denizens.

Facebook, on the other hand, has made great strides in tapping into emerging markets –  first with a free, text-only version called Facebook Zero that has proven quite successful, and then with the recent acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp.

Facebook is making big purchases like WhatsApp. In conjunction with their acquisition of Instagram, Facebook has shown the ability to diversify their revenue stream past their oriigjhal platform.

While investors have always liked Twitter’s diversification, with services like video app Vine, they’re simply not expanding fast enough to support their rapid valuation rise, with the majority of revenue still coming from three sources: Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends.

Of course, Twitter could eventually “pull a Facebook,” and reverse their post-IPO slump. But to do that, they’ll have to start looking less like themselves, and more like Facebook.

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