The other evening, we started an interesting discussion with some colleagues about usage of Twitter and Facebook. Obviously most people in the room were (and are) using Facebook and knew about the feature (“status”) allowing you to share text messages with your friends (and the whole world). Less people were aware of Twitter, although is also offers the possibility to share text messages with your friends (and the whole world too). I was wondering why most (if not all) people in the room were registered on Facebook but almost none of them were registered (or even using) Twitter. Do not even mention Identi.ca, the open source alternative to Twitter.
Both Facebook and Twitter play in the “social networking websites” circle and both are proprietary. You must register with both to be allowed to participate although no registration is required to read Twitter messages (they are public by default). No such thing with Facebook: only registered users can read what other users posted. Another difference: Facebook allow you to share more than just text messages (photos, videos, play games, etc.) while Twitter relies on third-parties for that (although they are rolling out a photo sharing service). Is that difference in features that make most people prefer Facebook on Twitter? Is that just a snowball effect?
Twitip states that “Facebook appeals to people looking to reconnect with old friends and family members or find new friends online; the mashup of features like email, instant messaging, image and video sharing, etc. feels familiar, while Twitter is a bit harder to get your arms around at first. […] Twitter on the other hand, encourages you grab ideals in byte-size chunks and use your updates as jumping off points to other places or just let others know what you’re up to at any given moment.” Even with those differences, Facebook and Twitter had very similar demographics in 2010, according to Digital Surgeons.
Sharing information via social channels (Facebook, Twitter and alike) grew fast between 2009 (14%) and 2010 (24%) according to Social Twist. It even overtook instant messaging. But this shouldn’t hide the fact that most people still use e-mails to share links. Is it because most people using social media are still “old” (25-35 years old) and used to send and receive e-mails. Of course, Social Twist only records a special kind of measure (media sharing) and I wonder if the supposed use of social media in “Arab revolutions” will have an impact on the 2011 usage. It would be interesting to see the trend in the coming years.
Coming back to the initial question, I think most people in that other evening were mostly using Facebook (and not Twitter) mainly because of the snowball effect (most of the friends are also on Facebook). I mainly use Twitter to share information and Facebook to keep in touch with my friends’lives.
And you, do you use Facebook and Twitter in different manners?
P.S. If you want you can follow me on Twitter and, yes, you can find me on Facebook 😉