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News Analysis – Is Twitter set to be gobbled up by Google or Facebook?

With Twitter the subject of rumoured $10 billion takeover bids from Google and Facebook, The Drum quizzed some key voices in the Manchester digital scene for their opinions on the possible bids.

Al Mackin, MD at SEO and web design agency The E-Word:

“It would be a good idea for Google to buy Twitter, but it could be bad for the rest of us. Consolidation may seem relatively unimportant right now but in the long term it’s important that key social websites remain independent. Who knows how the climate may change in a few years? Companies that we deemed to be moral and just may turn around to be the opposite.”

“It would be far better for all if Google, Facebook and Twitter remained independent – better to have three people at the party vying for attention than just two. Competition leads to better products and keeps everyone on their toes. You just need investors behind you that believe in the long term and a business plan that shows the potential to return.

“Facebook isn't buying technology. Twitter isn't a hard service to replicate; it's buying the brand and the user base. This is not a nice warm purchase; this is about cold hard figures.”

“Google needs to shake up their social offering – there have already been gentle tussles with Facebook. It's a publicly listed business, and they have to show the shareholders a) return and b) succinct planning for the future. There will be considerable cost savings if Google takes over Twitter. Google has an advertising platform that works (whereas Facebook’s is questionable). Also, Facebook is tied into Microsoft, and part owned by them."

“Let’s not forget the regime change at Google; there are egos and reputations at stake. If you analyse some of the products and services that Google has launched over the last few years, there’s a surprising amount of failures. They need a #win.”

Nicole Peate, Social Media Manager at McCann Erickson:

“It is a credit to the success and popularity of Twitter that the rumours of its sale have been met with outcry from the internet world. The main concern for users is that the functionality might change so that a buyer could make the service profitable. Despite its growing size and power, Twitter is still considered to be the most simple and independent of the major social networks. Therefore it is a concern to users that any form of takeover could result in Twitter selling out its core principles in pursuit of profit."

"The extent of this change would depend very much on the buyer and their agenda: what they want to achieve with the network. The simplicity of Twitter is the secret to its success. It would be a shame if an acquisition spoilt such a simple and instant model and I would hope that any potential buyer would see that the simplicity and independence of Twitter is what draws in followers."

"However, changes mean chances for brands. If social media stayed static the current “big winner” brands would stay on top. Changes to the format of any of the social media services can cause issues for users but they can also presents opportunities for brands to come up with exciting and innovative ways to use the new features.  Even if the rumours of Twitter’s sale do not materialise the service will continue to change and develop and so users must adapt with it."

Russell Hirst, Head of Social Media at Photolink Creative Group:

"Way back in the heady days of 2006 when Twitter was but a micro-network for a smattering of geeks and technophiles with not a promoted tweet in sight - it would have been pretty ambitious to imagine that it could be worth $10bn just a few years  later. However, fast forward to 2011 and with over 1,500 tweets being processed every single second it’s no surprise that the vultures are making their final descent onto the brand."
 
"Now, ‘rumour’ it may be, but if Google were to take over then I’d have no qualms – in fact I think it’d be fantastic for both  service reliability and future monetisation – Google are clearly experts in the latter after all. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as happy if Facebook got involved though – many users see Twitter as Facebook’s antithesis and I suspect that the community spirit that Twitter embodies wouldn’t feel anywhere near as organic under Facebook ownership."

Featured by The Drum

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