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The Cool Kids Play on Twitter, but the Masses Play on Facebook

I have a confession to make: I prefer Facebook to Twitter. There, I said it.

A couple of days back, amidst the stream of dross that has invaded my Facebook newsfeed as everyone and his dog jumps on the Facebook Questions bandwagon and gives it a test drive, there were a few people asking ‘do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?’. It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Facebook was leading all of these polls. But what I did find interesting was that, of my friends, virtually all of them had selected the ‘Twitter’ option.

Obviously that says something about many of the people I’m now friends with on Facebook; they’re social comms pros. And social comms people LOVE Twitter. Admitting you prefer Facebook over Twitter is the social media equivalent of preferring Coldplay over Elbow. One’s music for the masses, while the other’s cool and grungy. But you know what, I like Coldplay. I liked them way back before Parachutes was even released, and I like them now. I like Elbow too, but I prefer Coldplay. I suspect however, that among the social media fraternity, Elbow’s the band of choice in that scenario. I was never cool and I never will be.

Anyway, I digress. Two things have come to light this week that have made me think about this situation. First, eConsultancy reported a study by Yahoo Research which suggested that 50% of all content consumed on Twitter is generated by just 0.05% of users; a paltry 20,000 people. So if you ever get the feeling on Twitter that you bump into the same people all of the time no matter who you follow, that’s probably why. The report also suggests that on Twitter we’re an anti-social bunch; organising ourselves into groups of bloggers, celebrities or whatever; Twitter is fragmented.

Second, Radian6 made an announcement this week that saw #Radian6 trend worldwide. As my pal Adam Vincenzini succinctly pointed out, this “doesn’t do much for the myth that non-media folk use Twitter” and, as Mazher Abidi followed up: “Social media people love Twitter more, but consumers – people you want to reach – exist on Facebook more. Gotta respect that”.

So if I had to choose just one social network tomorrow, why would it be Facebook? On Twitter I’ve connected with far, far more people, some brilliant with whom I now have solid relationships. And that wouldn’t have happened on Facebook. But if I get to know someone well, I try and transfer that relationship across (if they’ll have me as a friend!). I feel that I get to know someone better through the more open, diverse and expansive updates of Facebook than through tweets, even if they’re far less frequent. I see a more personable side to them, whether that’s through the type of content they share or the mere fact that I can actually SEE them in the photos they post. On Twitter, I can’t help but feel that the real self is hidden behind 140 character text updates.

I also love the fact that, on Facebook, I can seamlessly blend my work and personal lives. I can go from commenting on a blog post immediately to posting an update about my daughter to a completely different audience by tailoring who sees what. As an example of this ‘switching’ behaviour, only this week one of my Facebook friends switched from posting pictures of his new flat to a link to a corporate website in a heartbeat. One minute I’m looking at his new flat and he’s viewing a video of my daughter, the next we’re interacting with one another on a professional level. In the same way I can switch in seconds from conversing with someone I met and know on a more professional level to someone I’ve known for years who doesn’t even care what I do for a living. That’s a power that Facebook has which, arguably at least, Twitter doesn’t (at least to the same level). Facebook is far less fragmented and far less exclusive. There’s no in-crowd. 

On the subject of blog posts, yet another reason I prefer Facebook is that by following a blog or blog writer’s Facebook page/profile, I can keep track of blog posts in a more engaging way than by either RSS or Twitter. I can get a better taste of a blog post from the short summary that Facebook presents me with than a title and bit.ly link. I can even engage with the writer on Facebook rather than the blog itself, should I wish. Yes, I can do that on Twitter, but Facebook has less limitations.

And finally, from a marketing perspective, Facebook offers far more opportunities. Far more people use Facebook, and they use if for different reasons. We can be more creative, more visual and more engaging on Facebook than we will ever be able to be on Twitter. Twitter for meeting people in your field; great. But for more personal relationships and greater opportunities, it has to be Facebook.

But what’s your opinion? Tick the relevant box (ironically a Twitter app) and leave a comment below to tell me why. Please.
As for Coldplay or Elbow, maybe I’ll ask my friends using Facebook Questions? Oh, and if you’d like to connect on Facebook, I’m here.

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