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Jun 2011

Has Twitter usurped Facebook as the better platform for businesses?

Posted in Business tactics, Social Media | 0 Comments

For some time, it’s been argued that the social network every business should be tapping into is Facebook, but is this really the case?

Social Media Examiner states that “with 500 million people on Facebook, chances are more of your customers are active on Facebook than any other network.” Aliza Sherman of GigaOM claims that in terms of advertising, “there’s no question that Facebook wins.”

It all appears so clean-cut, and it’s interesting reading when you get into the reasoning behind their championing of Zuckerberg’s platform. The ease of viral promotion, the size of the existing community, and the way in which Facebook constantly pulls users in towards it because it’s so central to modern social communication.

However, a recent study by Three_D, the social media arm of PR company Threepipe Communications, has revealed that 65 companies on the FTSE 100 use Twitter instead of Facebook. While they may only represent sixty-five companies out of countless millions across the globe, a majority vote for the small blue bird from a hundred of the most successful companies in the UK is a significant statistic.

Twitter is no longer the novel concept it was in 2006. It now has over 300 million accounts – a growth of 60 million a year. This stands in comparison to Facebook’s 500 million accounts, accumulated since 2004, a growth of 71 million. The difference isn’t all that great, relatively speaking, and the immediate accessibility of the Twitter platform means it takes minutes to set up a company account, rather than the longer period required to adequately establish a Facebook fan page.

Sherman concedes similar points within her article, and her differentiation between the two platforms is key to understanding what some businesses prioritising their Facebook presence are missing: the reasons consumers connect to your company. “The way you accumulate page fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter is different,” states Sherman. “You might gain a fan on Facebook just because someone sees someone they know becoming your fan. You gain followers on Twitter — genuine and engaged followers — because they actually want to hear what you have to say.”

Twitter is a feed of information that the user selects themselves, rather than another group affiliation or sign of consumer appreciation to be hung on the Wall of a Facebook user. Businesses are no longer seeking those who are willing to give them no more than a nod of approval; they want people to connect with the company out of personal interest.

It’s also not surprising to learn that potential customers are leaving Facebook along with the companies now devoting themselves to the 140-character marketing effort. The New York Times suggests that there are several factors at work driving people away from the social networking site, amongst them the overlapping of personal and business relationships, and the “inevitable” Orwellian undertones of Facebook’s aspirations to usurp Google as the central hub of today’s online society.

Twitter certainly seems like the better option, at least from my own perspective. There’s a sole purpose to a Twitter account – to tweet i.e. to communicate. There’s little else to do, nothing in fact, if you discard personalising your display picture, your small bio or your website link. It’s a streamlined experience that separates itself from the Facebook morass of Mafia Wars, Wall comments, privacy paranoia, and the endless struggle for the consumer’s “like” click. Perhaps the pro-Twitter trend will extend beyond the FTSE 100 in future. If the New York Times’ exodus analysis is anything to go by, it’s almost certain.

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