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What is the Difference Between Twitter and Facebook?

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Social medial is at the heart of every person's online life today. It is also an important part of daily life for businesses. If you are exploring the world of social media for the first time, all of the different options can seem a bit confusing. The most asked question that people seem to have, however, is what the difference is between Twitter and Facebook. The simple answer? Everything. However, it isn't really that cut-and-dry. Here are some major differences that prove just how essential it is for you to use both of these platforms to reach out to your audience.

•    Lifespan of content: Statistically, it has been reported that 92% of all activity and engagement with Tweets happens within the first hour of the post being made. With Facebook status updates, the interaction can go on for hours, and even days. Twitter is basically centered around real-time conversation, while Facebook is more of an ongoing conversation that people get to eventually.

•    Twitter is less about social friendships. People make connections on Facebook with friends, family members, and other people that they care to keep in touch with. Twitter allows people to follow important topics, people, and conversations that are relevant or interesting to them. It's a much more detached connection.

•    Timely matters versus timelessness: While content on Facebook is timeless, the information on Twitter is always here and now, important and relevant, and constantly changing. If you have instant news, Twitter is the place to go. For content that is less focused on time or timing, Facebook is a great medium.

•    Optimal times for posting are different. It has been studied and 5:00 P.M. seems to be the optimal time for tweeting, while noon seems to be the time when Facebook status updates get the most attention. Also, Wednesdays are more popular for tweets while Saturdays are more popular for Facebook posting. This is an obvious point of the difference in relevant news and content on Twitter versus the entertainment factor that Facebook has.

There are plenty of differences between Facebook and Twitter, but the bottom line is that Facebook is more of an ongoing social relationship builder. Twitter keeps people updated on the here and now, and topics and trending conversations are constantly changing. It's less about social connections and more about staying informed. In light of this, it's easy to see how your business can benefit from using both social media tools to engage the audience in current events and news as well as to build ongoing social relationships with your fans and followers.

2012 UPDATE

In 2012, there have been more policy and privacy changes in how both Facebook and Twitter are managed. Facebook also has since gone public as a publicly-held and traded company. Time will tell where these two social juggernauts lead their user bases but with unique settings and uses to each service, neither is destined to go away anytime soon.

  • Facebook’s new layout - The organization of information, news, shared images and posts and the like are now set to a chronological timeline. Facebook users are greeted with a large background cover for personal artwork or branding as well as a small graphic. Finding specific status updates is revolutionized by way of sorting information by year.

  • Twitter changed its layout as well. Users uploading header photos to their accounts can personalize it and have it viewed on desktops and mobile devices. This brings a heightened sense of personal touch and makes customizing your Twitter profile very easy. Previously, graphic savvy users had to upload background images in proper sizes or use default backgrounds to change the default profile settings. The iPad update displays Twitter layouts in a breathtaking new light.

  • Relevance is still the same. You will find that Twitter users, hashtags and general conversations change quickly and update throughout the day in conversational form. The latest trends, hottest topics and most vibrant news garner the most Tweets. Facebook users, though with timeless information and sharing, doesn’t always make for the best source of original news. The conversational threads may be easier to follow, but the trending topics are best discussed in the 140-character Tweet bursts.

  • Integration issues. As policies and API terms change, so do the moods of programmers and developers. Recent shifts in Facebook’s Open Graph and Twitter’s API have run up negative numbers in the 33% range for surveyed developers. Many do not like how time-consuming or in-operational some of the posting functions are when trying to sync new applications and programs to the Facebook system but a slightly lower percentage has issues on the Twitter platform.

  • Twitter is better as a fresh news portal and directing traffic. Facebook contrasts in that it still reigns as the king of relationship-building. Individuals and companies typically announce hot stories, promotions, or current news (or thoughts about it) on Twitter and use it to push followers to another online destination. Facebook expands the breadth of the conversation but can bore the fast-scanning curator as the conversational threads are littered with opinion and jokes.

  • E-mail routing is a new update. The @facebook.com email address is being assigned to all 900 million Facebook users over time. This will allow for a level of consistency across all Facebook profile holders and give users enhanced visibility should they want to invite contact from former lost friends or family. Twitter has no such default mail setting; it is up to their users to share such information.

  • Empowering brands and their campaign intentions comes through ‘Featured Stories. These are stories which are promoted page updates. Other Facebook users in your social sphere can recommend or like, even comment on, these stories. Rather than a simple ad that anyone can place, these stories are more engaging and often prompt a personalized experienced since friends recommend stories simply by interacting with these sidebar features. Twitter, with an $8 billion valuation, still has very little (to zero) advertising shared during the user experience.
  • Gateway landing pages are a thing of the past. Facebook was allowing brand pages to display “Welcome” tabs to garner sign-ups and encourage “Likes.” Now, these gateway landing pages have been removed. This causes brands to rethink their approach to building their social followings. Twitter has no such landing tabs for profiles; they have been consistent in how the general profile layout is simply data-driven, not so incentive-driven for follows or other sign-ups.

At present time, it’s still clear who the relationship-building platform is; Facebook. On the other hand, for your current events and quick micro-blogging needs with fewer threaded opinions, you news-hungry users will enjoy Twitter. Going forward, your business still requires a presence on both platforms where both mediums are best utilized by guiding your audience and customers to a main site. The corporate website should still be the place of e-commerce; the bulk of created content and actual selling should take place on a company site. Social media outposts are still great for sharing, commenting, and displaying relevant links. 

 


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