Social Media

In the New Vine App, Clues to Twitter's IPO


In the New Vine App, Clues to Twitter's IPO

Courtesy Vine

Last week Twitter juiced up its embedded tweets. Now it’s introduced Vine, a new video-sharing service. With its expected IPO looming in the not-too-distant future, what’s Twitter up to?

Both the new embedded tweets and Vine give users the ability to take tweets with them around the Internet. Instead of just embedding messages, users can now include photos, videos, article summaries, and other content shared in a Tweet—including the 6-second videos recorded and uploaded with the new Vine app.

BuzzFeed’s Matt Buchanan notes that these embeds, “filled up with gooey media,’” set Twitter apart from rival Facebook (FB):

“It’s inverting Facebook’s model here by allowing its media to be disembodied and spread anywhere—you don’t have to go to Twitter to look at a post, unlike Facebook. Twitter isn’t a closed stream in this model so much as it is a kind of ubiquitous media platform that can hold anything and be anywhere, all connected to the backbone of the stream.”

Ah, a media platform. There’s been a lot of talk in the past few days about whether Twitter is more of a media company—like NBC, say—or more of distribution platform—think Comcast. The embedded tweets and new video push it incrementally closer to the former. This also points to its longstanding revenue problem and what looks like an attempt to solve it ahead of the company’s initial public offering, which analysts anticipate will come in late 2013 or early 2014.

In a new report, New York research and advisory firm Greencrest Capital says that’s critical for Twitter. For Facebook, advertising opportunities are, as of now, limited to advertisements within the Facebook ecosystem. Twitter executives aren’t eager to repeat Facebook’s IPO debacle. Now, by creating the tools for users to create different kinds of content (words, photos, video) and the means to share it beyond a Twitter feed, the company is making its broader strategy clearer: It may want to be no less than the atomic unit of the shareable, social Web that advertisers crave.

Keller is director of social media for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek.

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