Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Facebook Versus Twitter: A Look at Two Very Different Social Networks

I use both Facebook and Twitter. A lot. I have noticed that my use of these websites is very different, and most individuals I know who use both use them in very different ways.

I have been on Facebook for about two and a half years now, which I find interesting, since I swore I would never, ever get it while I was in high school. By a couple months into my first year of University, I took the plunge, and have never looked back. I use it to keep in touch with friends I may otherwise never hear anything from. There is a significant downside however: there is a serious lack of privacy. Unless you change your settings, your entire friend list sees every photo you post, every time your relationship status changes and every status update. Therefore, while I am a fairly open person, I definitely do not use Facebook as a place to air out my dirty laundry most of the time. It is one thing to say you’re having a bad day, it’s entirely another to make thinly veiled attacks at individuals who scorn you.

I rarely go on Facebook for news or interesting links. Occasionally I will get a link to a song someone likes, or a blog entry someone wrote, but for the most part, the news I receive pertains directly to the person who posts it. I’ve also noticed that it is a great place to share photos. Have a new baby? Excellent, post photos for all of your friends to see! For me, a good person to “friend” is someone that I know, and am interested in hearing from or about. I do not “friend” strangers, since I do not want someone I do not know reading about my life, even a censored version of it.

Twitter is very different. It is much less complex than Facebook, in the sense that it does a lot less. You can post the equivalent of “status updates” to your followers, direct messages, and retweet interesting comments. I’ve said it before, but I use Twitter a lot to get my news, from the Winnipeg Free Press, and other news sources. Twitter is my “business” social network. I try to keep things fairly school appropriate, and communicate with fellow CreComms on it. Twitter is really good for keeping in touch with CreComm students and instructors: if I have a question, I’ll tweet it and usually I’ll get a timely response. Twitter is what I use to promote my blog much of the time, because my profile is open (meaning anyone can read my tweets if they want), and I figure my followers on Twitter are more likely to read it than my Facebook friends.

I never had any reservations about joining Twitter, which is surprising, since many people I know have or had reservations about it. I simply heard about it, and decided to join when I learned that Frank Warren, the creator of PostSecret, had an account on it. I started following more people, and gradually found a reason to start checking it every day, and the rest is history. As for who is a good person to follow on Twitter, it is simple for me: who will provide content that interests me, or amuses me?

As for a strategic use of Twitter and Facebook for PR, I feel the demographics are fairly different. The best way to use Facebook in a PR strategy will be to create a fan page, group, or event, and try to gain members, fans and attendees. You can also post links on your Facebook, but I find that often times, people ignore those postings, so the best way to reach lots of people is to create a group and promote it in hopes of getting a large number of members. Facebook is good for reaching a large number of people, but they have to have joined your group first, which means you often have to send out invites, and hope people join, and that their friends join based on reading it in their news feed.

Twitter is a little different. What you can do is create an account specific to what you are trying to promote, and start tweeting about the event, film, et cetera. Follow individuals that are relevant to what you are trying to promote. For example, if you are trying to promote a local film, follow local actors or directors, and start a dialogue with them. People will see this, may find what you have to say interesting, and start following you. Use hashtags, and words that people will commonly search, such as the word “film” or “independent”. If people happen to be searching those words about the time you post your tweet, they may find it, go to your profile, and decide you are worth following. But to me, the worst thing to do is create a Twitter account merely to advertise a product. Nobody will follow you back if you don’t have anything interesting to say. Post links to relevant news articles, to the official website, post tweets with a neat fact about what you’re trying to promote. And engage your followers in a dialogue—read their tweets and send them one back! We all like to have our tweets acknowledged, and I would be more receptive to someone’s message if they took the time to read what I have to say first.


  1. Great advice. Great points about demographics!

    I'm still on MySpace. Ha! Kidding...

  2. It's kind of like Twitter is a snack while Facebook is a meal. Or something.

    Now I'm hungry.

  3. That's an interesting way of describing it! While Twitter may not do as much, I think it does what it does very well...better than Facebook even.