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There’s a train of thought that is perceived by some about who actually controls social media. Users do not control social media, only contribute to the data flow. The data owners control social media. First things first, the term “social media” is such a huge catch all for anything now that it bleeds over most websites, software and apps in one wave shape or form.

Blueprints to a billion
In the book “Blueprint to a Billion“, David G. Thomson states that one of the characteristics of companies was to achieve majority market share. The likes of Twitter and Facebook knew this hence the rapid pursuit of users.  Developers were encouraged to create apps that exploited the data given to them. It was essentially free development and free marketing of a platform while someone else took the burden of risk.

Measure everything
There comes a time though when the peak oil of users numbers occurs and once Twitter knew the monthly new user accounts were slowing (because regardless of what third party client you had you still needed a Twitter account) then it’s time to slowly turn the tap down on the API and restrict the access.  

Yes I know it causes upset in the third party developers but if you’re prepared to put all your eggs in one basket then you have to assume the day is coming. It came and folk go upset. The cherry pick had begun, if it was of use to the data owner they bought it. 

Don’t believe me? Look at the acquisitions that Twitter have made since 2008:

2008 – Summize (local search), Values of n (software development)
2009 – GeoAPI (Location information)
2010 – Atebits (client), Cloudhopper (Mobile messaging), SmallThought Systems (Database and analytics), Fluther.com (Q&A system)
2011 – Tweetdeck (client), Adgrok (advertising), Backtype (Social analytics), Bagcheck (social sharing), Julpan (Realtime search), Whisper Systems (security)
2012 – Summify (Social news), Dasient (security), Posterous (Blog platform), Hotspots.io (social media intelligence), Rest Engine (Email marketing). nclud (Design agency)

Facebook have been on a similar spending spree too.

There comes a time though when these investments have to start making the dough for the parent company. Companies don’t buy startups for entrepreneur kudos, back slappery and the like. The acquire to make more money.  And as the size of these companies grows so does the pursuit of user retention.

So why did Instagram pull rank over Twitter?
There was a “user backlash” when Instagram card image integration was pulled from the Twitter feed. And like users felt they had some social right have it. The reasons for doing it though are quite clear. 

Instagram belongs to Facebook, not Twitter. And as these platforms primary concern is about advertising revenue not users (they’ve got them hooked, it’ll be hard to move) they will start to ensure that the advertising dollars are channeled to their own users, not everyone else’s. 

The revolution will not be socialised.
The large social media platforms are slowly building walled gardens around their content. While we provide data for free the companies will want to maximise everyday of marketing to you. Like I’ve quoted before, “those who own the data make the rules”. 

Be under no illusion as a user you are not really in control. Not many people have the reach of 18 million people so a mini revolution can be isolated and put out pretty quickly.  You are essentially a small fish in a very very very large pond. The end game is the day when Twitter removes the posting to Facebook function and you’re left with the stark choice of posting to one or the other, or both if you’re happy to copy/paste. 
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