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TheStreet Open House

The Media Loves Twitter So Twitter Must Be Good

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Facebook (FB) made it clear -- what an IPO does on its first day of trading doesn't necessarily reflect its longer-term fortunes. With that said -- and because we run in a manic market -- I don't care one way or another what Twitter (TWTR) does in its Thursday debut.

Looking past the IPO, I'm not certain I'm sold on TWTR as a long-term investment. It doesn't mean I don't like it or never will. I'm just not as sold on it as I was Facebook or as in love with it as many of my colleagues are.

Here's the problem with Twitter: The hype that surrounds it comes directly from the media. By directly from, I don't mean the media takes what's happening in the public sphere and sensationalizes it. Twists its meaning. Instead, I mean the media loves Twitter so much -- for good reason -- that it doesn't take the time to step back and consider the social network from a mass appeal, broader popular culture perspective.

Can Twitter survive as a tool ...

  • For the media to disseminate news and complement their core platforms;
  • For media personalities, celebrities, musicians and similar others to promote themselves and their work; and
  • For some other unknown segment of the seemingly engaged public to consume what all of the above provide and/or use Twitter as means for activism, social connection and self-expression?

On one hand I'm skeptical about Twitter's value to advertisers, television networks and such -- over the long run -- if it doesn't a) scale out the way Facebook has and, more importantly b) become the sort of entrenched, go-to social network like Facebook is.

Playing devil's advocate with myself -- maybe it doesn't matter if Twitter serves several niche audiences rather than the masses. That can be dynamic (inciting social change in the midst of international conflict) and lucrative (selling a presumably affluent, highly-educated user base to advertisers looking to target this demographic). After all, outlets I'm quite familiar with, such TheStreet and CNBC, see a great deal of success doing the latter.

It doesn't matter how you decide to knock this Twitter IPO -- and, more so, Twitter's future -- around. It's just fun to knock around because nobody, not even Twitter, has the answers as to how this thing will unfold Thursday and beyond.

There's only one thing I think I know for sure. And it's been roundly ignored. Twitter and Facebook would be better off to not compete so much. In fact, if I was Costolo and Zuckerberg I would consider a merger or, better yet, an advertising alliance.

That type of partnership provides the companies' (theoretically combined) sales forces all they need to take out on the street to prospective clients. Imagine being able to package the power of Twitter with the power of Facebook in one clean, streamlined pitch. It would be fantastic; however, on the day Twitter IPOs it's likely the furtherest thing from anybody's mind (except mine!).

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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