Demystifying Twitter and Facebook
In an earlier post, I had discussed about the Facebook-ization and Twitter-ization of the global social networks. This post compares and de-mystefies the twin phenomenon: Twitter and Facebook. It isn’t as much a Twitter versus Facebook thing as it is a Twitter and Facebook thing.
These two global maps tell the story of colonization of Global Social networks by Facebook. The last time, one would have seen such large levels of colonization is probably the British empire in the mid 19th century. The 2009 map is flawed because it doesnot factor results from Google Page ranks and uses the Alexa instead. This thus doesnot give a complete picture and is only 60% complete at best. The Orkut is not featured and it is a sizeable chunk in India and South East Asia. But the idea here is to show the remarkable spread of Facebook across the world. If not No.1 as indicated across, it is a respectable No.2 in lot of the geographies.
There is a lot of chatter around Facebook versus Twitter. Is Facebook more happening or its Twitter about to upstage Facebook. The comparison to me is a Apples versus Oranges scenario. Lets look at the how these
two portals deliver social networking to the audience across geographies.
This comparison goes to show how the two networks cater to different needs. Facebook to me is all about my network, my friends, my clique whereas Twitter is “my voice in the crowd. To that extent Facebook is a closed circle and Twitter is as open as can be depending upon a user’s relevance to particular field. Twitter features personal updates, but then it is tending more and more to broader subjects and the philosophy of crowd sourcing.
A handy detail of the pros and cons of Facebook and Twitter are as mentioned here.
In terms of sharing, Twitter is more effective beating Facebook’s 24% with a 40% i.e there are 40% chances that a URL on Twitter will get more clicks and browsing than Facebook (where the metric stands at 24%). This may be due to two factors:
1. A sharing opportunity is very transient on Twitter. The tweet tends to get lost in the constant flow of conversation or if relevant, it gets discussed and evolves. Facebook on the other hand, is a static medium, which keeps the sharing opportunity on for a longer time. Thus the audience can come back in time to browse through the URL/message.
2. With only 140 character’ss per tweet, Twitter inherently encourages URL click throughs as the complete story while the Tweets act as headlines.
However, Facebook has larger within page click thru’s because being a closed circle there is a greater opportunity to browse easily and spend time on the portal of the referrer (because the referrer is someone you know).
Interestingly, the audience demographics on Twitter is younger than Facebook. While Twitter shows a healthy growth in users across all ages, most of its users are 32 years and younger ( called the Gen Y). The spending power lies in the Gen Y demographics and it is more likely that Businesses would like to talk to users through this medium. The RTs and @s deliver the business message on a one to one level with relevant consumer groups which is why a lot of the companies are increasingly use Twitter as the medium of communication. A statistic by Nielsen shows that Facebook demographic profile is around the 31-33 years mark and tending to the older ages whereas Twitter age profiles are 26-31 and tending to younger ages. What helps Twitter are the fan followings that the big crowd pullers get who are mostly less than 30 years. Check Ashton Kutcher, Ophray Winfrey, Shahid Kapoor, Chetan Bhagat, Priyanka Chopra, Genelia D Souza on Twitter. It is easier to follow them on Twitter rather then they have inordinately large Facebook accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.
Finally, the Facebook versus Twitter trends validate the usages that both these portals serve. For instance, Twitter serves up with News such as Iran Election, Gaza, Iran, Earth Hour, AIG, Wave, Windows 7 and more. Most of these topics are macro discussions and relate less to individual and more to a continuous news stream. The Facebook is about I, Facebook Applications (How the user indulges in his online activities), Fan Followings, Celebrities etc. Interestingly, Twitter also finds a mention as a FB trend.
Net of all things: The debate “Which is better: Facebook or Twitter” is quite fruitless. Twitter and Facebook help in forging the user’s online identity: a social side and an “interests”/crowd/community side. Both have commonalities but the usages are very different. For me, I have a Facebook account for my social circles, a Twitter account for the crowd conversation, a Linked in Account for my Academic/Professional pursuits and a blog for showcasing my thoughts and ideas. It isn’t as much “A versus B” as it is about being complementary.
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