By Jenn Riggle
I have a confession to make – I’m not a huge Facebook fan.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have lots of friends who love Facebook. They’re always telling me how it’s changed their lives, making it easier to keep up with high school and college friends. By the same token, organizations have done a great job to use their Facebook pages to create virtual communities and develop closer relationships with consumers.
And Facebook has definitely established critical mass. According to a Slate posting, “Facebook has crossed a threshold—it’s now so widely trafficked that it’s fast becoming a routine aid to social interaction, like e-mail and antiperspirant.” Yet for some reason, it just doesn’t speak to me.
So I thought I’d take a critical look at the two social networks and try to iron out my feelings:
With 150 million users, if Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria. It continues to grow in popularity, with the fastest-growing groups are Gen Xers nearing age 40 and Baby Boomers – the latter seeming to join as a way to see photos of their grandkids. Most use Facebook to share real-life experiences, whether it’s photos or videos or updates on what they’re doing. It also offers a variety of features and functionalities, including games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, applications and quizzes. And the majority of Facebook relationships seem to be formed in the real-world, whether they’re friends from high school or college, family members, colleagues or neighbors.
However, for organizations/businesses, Facebook is a strategic tool, allowing them to create fan pages and online communities where it can communicate directly with consumers. In addition, Facebook ads provide an inexpensive and targeted way for organizations to reach people online.
While I’m not a Facebook fan, I see its value for others – like eating Brussels sprouts.
Twitter, however, seems to appeal to a different group of people. It’s popular with adults the ages 35 to 49 years, 62 percent who use Twitter at work (and 35 percent from home). While Facebook users seem to be people who want to re-connect with old friends, Twitter users seem people who want to share information and ideas. Most (but not all) of these relationships are formed online by people deciding who they want to follow or by developing lists. Essentially, people can use Twitter to “create” their own communities.
Twitter is built for speed and unlike Facebook, doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles (it’s hard to include those in 140 characters). According to Brian Solis, Twitter usage peaks on Mondays and Fridays (although there’s solid usage on Saturdays), again hinting at the high number of business users. And according to a new study conducted by the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), Twitter is the fastest growing social media channel among the Fortune 500 companies.
So What Does This Mean?
I came upon an interesting theory about how people “self-herd” in social media. Web 2.0 is based on “human 1.0 characteristics” because people look for people like themselves in social media. We can do this by becoming an organization’s fan, “friending” people or by creating virtual communities.
I’ve read posts from Tired or Inspired and Language and ICT that compare Facebook and Twitter, and they unanimously, chose Facebook over Twitter because it offers a richer online experience. I agree with them, Facebook has interactive features that people and organizations want. It also makes it easier to create regional initiatives and communities. However, there are others, like ProBlogger, who are de-friending people from their Facebook accounts to help create a barrier between their personal and professional lives.
But being realistic, there are only so many hours in the day and you have to choose how you’re going to your time. After all, you can’t be everyone at once – although with social media, it sometimes feels that way.
Like Robert Frost, I choose the road less traveled. As a news junkie, I love the fact that Twitter helps me find people who share similar interests and who can point me to information I would never find otherwise.
However, I’ll continue to persevere with Facebook and hope that someday I’ll have a change of heart. Although, I’m afraid I’d bore my friends with talk about my travails balancing work, swim schedules and endless repairs on my old home.
Are you a die-hard Facebook fan? I’d love to hear how you’re using it. Maybe it will help me change my mind.