Micro-blogging site Twitter has become one of the most important social media platforms on the web. With over 645 million registered users sending out approximately 58 million tweets a day, it’s no wonder that the social media company has found a lot of financial success since going public in November 2013. Quite simply, marketers know that Twitter is a popular watering hole where they can share their products and earn some new customers.
The Social Media Giant Has Been on a Roll
Since the first quarter of 2012, Twitter’s user base has steadily grown. In the one year period from Q4 2012 to the same time in 2013, the service added 60 million active users. Most exciting for the company was the fact that as they expanded their user-base, so, too, did their revenues grow. Year over year, Twitter’s revenue has grown by 116%, eclipsing $243 million in Q4 of last year. Despite estimates that their earnings will drop to someplace between $230 and $240 million this quarter, most predict 2014 will be a banner year for the service — or will it?
Attack on the Biebs
Pop icon and all-around class act Justin Bieber had his Twitter account hacked a few days ago. The hacker tweeted, “Justin Bieber Cemberbut?” Apparently, the Indonesian phrase is trying to prod the newly minted criminal to smile more in the face of adversity. The Biebs quickly regained control of his account, informing all of his 50 million followers that he had been hacked and asking them not to click another tweet sent by his account encouraging users to install the ShootingStarPro app on their systems. The move likely saved his followers from similar hacking incidents.
This isn’t the first time a high-profile user has been hacked on the service, and it’s not the first time such an event has called the overall usability of Twitter into question. With an increasing number of phishing scams, keyloggers, and cloned Twitter servers built by scammers out there, it’s unlikely Twitter hacks will become extinct anytime soon, despite how easy it is to set up two-step verification and spot a fake Twitter log-in page.
Concerns Over Reliability of the Service
Security isn’t the only issue users are having to face these days. The popular service suffered yet another lengthy service outage on Tuesday, leaving its hundreds of millions of users unable to craft snark, wit, and undeserved venom-filled tweets toward other users into 140-characters or less for hours. Of course, that may sound like a non-issue, but part of Twitter’s draw is that it isn’t purely a center for the inane or the self-aggrandizing — that’s arguably what distinguishes the service from Facebook.
Twitter is increasingly a source for news, as evidenced by the 59% of journalists worldwide who use the service to gather sources and disseminate news. More than anything else, this is what keeps people flocking to Twitter. If the service continues to be unreliable, it might make more sense for marketers to give in to Facebook’s continued attempts to steal the little blue bird’s thunder.
“Having recently launched it’s IPO, and considering the growing number of users on Twitter, security could be a threat to its success financially, and in the public perception, explains Stacie Foster, marketing associate at Archer Communications.”
With security becoming a mounting issue and Twitter’s reliability rightly being called into question — Seriously, how many times can a service go down in a year? — it’s no surprise that Twitter’s growth is starting to slow. If you make your money by being a real-time source for news but people are losing access to their accounts or the service entirely, what else can you expect?