Facebook vs Twitter: one for Consolidation, one for Expansion

Facebook Imports Twitter’s Streaming Layout, along with its Fail Whale

I recently noticed that Facebook has had a lot of downtime after they created their new “News Feed”. Even as I write the post, Facebook is down.

I checked out the Twitter Search Stream for Facebook and it seems like hundreds of people are complaining about the same thing.

It looked like Facebook not only copied the Twitter Stream, but also imported the Fail Whale into their system. Maybe they can call it the Face Whale?

Facebook changed its format to combat Twitter

It’s no secret that the reason why Facebook made its switch is because it feels a little bit threatened by Twitter. Not too long ago, Facebook even tried to buy Twitter with their $15 Billion valuation stock”. Unfortunately, Facebook got a cold rejection.

Now the game is on.

Facebook thinks that, “Well, since we have all these users and we already have all the social data of people, lets just copy what makes Twitter popular and People will never find a reason to use Twitter anymore.

This is in one sense logical, because Facebook does have a lot of user data, and I sometimes hear people say “why would I want to use Twitter when I already use Facebook?”

So now your feeds and even your Facebook Wall look like Twitter’s Tweet Stream. Is Facebook the best thing in the world now?

Not really.

Even though Facebook and Twitter try to serve very similar purposes – becoming more connected with people you care about – they are completely different animals. Twitter’s uniqueness still lies in:

  1. It is cleaner and more refined
  2. It is more open and exploratory
  3. It highlights relationships based on merit, not friendship
  4. It is a constantly engaging game of gaining more merit and creating value

1. Twitter strips out a lot of automated junk and presents cleaner information

Compared to Twitter, we all know that there’s a lot more stuff you can pull from the Facebook Stream because of all the activities that are going on in Facebook.

However, nowadays we don’t necessarily lack information. We lack the tools that help us refine information.

The truth is that a lot of the interesting things on the internet does not happen on Facebook. When you look at the Facebook Feeds, there’s a ton of auto-generated stuff that are exclusively about Facebook. You rarely find good articles on Facebook through the Facebook Feeds or some breaking news hours before it is covered by a news source because all you see on the FB Feed is how many pictures your friends uploaded and who changed their profile pictures.

In Twitter, people pull in all kinds of information, sites, news, and resources from all over the internet. These are things they have deemed worthy of their followers to consume. And since people can easily opt-out of your Tweets (will cover later), everyone actually has some sort of quality control pressure, unlike Facebook.

Twitter clears out all the photo uploads, events, Zombie bites, and just tells you what your friends want to tell you in 140 characters.

2. Information on Twitter is more open than Facebook, making it more adventurous

The Twitter platform is way more open than Facebook. On Twitter, you get to know exactly what’s been discussed in the Twittersphere immediately. You can find out what’s on the mind of people in that community at any given moment.

On Facebook, you have to be peoples’ friends to know what’s going on in your circle. Obviously that’s not a bad thing because a lot of people just care about their real life friends.

However, Twitter allows you to explore a whole new world of cool stuff, cool people, and opportunities for you to discover and absorb. Through tons of Twitter Apps, you are able to find interesting people in any particular industry, in your location, celebrities that you care about who won’t friend you on Facebook, and all sorts of fun information.

Being on Twitter is definitely more like an adventure compared to Facebook’s Shire-nature of hanging out with your Hobbit friends.

3. One-Way Followships on Twitter Enhances Experience for both Tweeters and Followers

Another unique advantage Twitter has is the one-way followship. On Facebook, there may be a lot of information that you don’t really care about from friends. However, since most of them are your real friends, its not very socially acceptable to opt out of that by unfriending them.

On Twitter, since people follow each other based on merit more often than existing friendship, you follow people because you enjoy what they tweet, instead of if you are acquaintances in real life.

If someone starts to tweet a lot of junk, its an easy unfollow for everyone. You only see what you want to see.

On the other hand, because people can easily unfollow you if you are tweeting trash, people on Twitter have more pressure to tweet out things that are more interesting…at least according to themselves.

Every time you Tweet, you risk someone clicking the unfollow button. This makes most people tweet seriously.

4. Follower Acquisition makes Twittering a constantly-engaging game

Because of the one-way nature of Twitter, a lot of people begin to treat this as a fun game to “earn” the followship of more followers.

On Facebook, if you invite a lot of people, you will probably get a lot of friends. But on Twitter it doesn’t work this way. You can follow everyone, and no one needs to follow you back.

In that sense, having a follower on Twitter is way more meaningful than having a new friend on Facebook. You “earn” your right to become follow-worthy, and I can guarantee that seeing a new follower on Twitter feels MUCH better than having a random guy request to be your friend on Facebook.

Because of that, there are a lot of people who work very hard to seem interesting, tweet out quality information, and find funny/witty things to say, all just to delight and entertain people so they can become more “follow-worthy”. No one works this hard to get friends on Facebook.

Conclusion: Different Tools for Different Purposes

I actually don’t dislike Facebook. I use it and like it a lot. However, by nature, Facebook will not (and I will argue never) replace Twitter even if it has the same layout and function.

On the other hand, Twitter will not replace Facebook either. They should not even try by adding in more information, a larger profile page, and allowing more pictures. The beauty of Twitter lies in its limitations, instead of how much it encompasses.

Facebook is about maintaining a stronger relationship with existing friends, whereas Twitter is like an engaging game where you are constantly learning new things, exploring new fields and attracting new followers.

Share the Post:

other Posts