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5 Important Differences Between Twitter And Facebook

The two Social Network Titans are oftentimes named in the same sentence. Yet, when looking at the use case of the two, they couldn’t be any more different.

Whilst Facebook is argued to be fully mainstream, Twitter, with 13% usage of the US population has a more targeted audience.

Of course, I am in love with Twitter big time. Facebook is coming on strong too though.

Here are 5 points where I found some major differences:

1.) Lifetime of a status update vs. a Tweet

A Tweet has by far a much shorter lifespan than a Facebook update. According to some interesting insights from Sysomos, about 92% of engagement with a Tweet happens within the first hour after being tweeted.

A Facebook update on the other hand is far longer to be present in peoples timelines. It can often stretch over several days until all interaction with the update dried up.

What does it mean?

The indication on lifetime of Twitter vs. Facebook updates particularly affects posting frequency. A recent study here has shown that you can easily post 1-4 times an hour on Twitter to have a high impact, whilst only 0.5 status updates per day seem to be most effective.


2.) Friends vs. Followers

Funnily enough, Twitter called followers friends too in the very early days. Yet, by nature the two things are fundamentally different. Friending someone on Facebook carries a far deeper connection then following on Twitter.

Of course, the action itself doesn’t mean anything and you can build meaningful relationships on Twitter in the same way as on Facebook. It feels that in terms of personal spheres following someone on Twitter is more detached than a Facebook friend though.

What does it mean?

A Twitter following can be strictly interest based on topics the person is tweeting about. Friending someone might show a deeper social interest in the person that comes into play with Facebook. Trying to friend everyone you follow, might not be the optimal solution.


3.) Speed

Another crucial factor is the speed of messages being passed on. Here Twitter obviously comes out as the far faster medium to transport messages. Examples of the Japanese earthquake, the death of Osama Bin Laden or other breaking news happenings portray this very nicely.

Facebook on the other hand appears to move a lot slower and I found it can rather be used for timeless news and updates.

What does it mean?

I found that if you are aiming to create an instant viral effect for news or an important update, Twitter proves to be more effective. For less time sensitive content I found that Facebook can be a powerful distribution channel.


4.) Online Friends vs. Offline Friends

On Facebook you interact with your family and real life friends. On Twitter you talk to online friends interested in similar things. This is how the argument went for some time. As both networks evolved this might not be entirely true. You have most likely experienced it yourself that there are many occasions where things happen the other way round.

The argument that Facebook focuses on the Social Graph and Twitter on the Interest Graph is still valid I believe. Even though the two are merging to some extent, Grandma is on Facebook, whilst she might not be on Twitter.

What does it mean?

I feel that building a large following with a business purpose in mind is easier to achieve on Twitter. Personal Facebook profiles still represent a more private layer, which some don’t want to build out in such a way. So we sometimes should be a little more careful with friending than following I found.


5.) Optimal posting times

A recent study by @DanZarrella found that best times to tweet during the day are around 5 p.m. On the other hand, Facebook status updates seem to be most effective at around noon.

In terms of weekdays Wednesday appeared to be the best for Twitter, whilst the best day to share on Facebook appears to be Saturday.

What does it mean:

Our patterns of accessing Facebook and Twitter are quite different. The peak at work days for Twitter indicates the strong business and news side of things on Twitter. A strong Saturday for Facebook might show us that the entertainment factor on Facebook is higher.



To me, these are the most striking differences between Facebook and Twitter. It’s also worth mentioning that this might not stay the way it is. Both networks are changing rapidly and if Twitter manages to achieve more mainstream usage, there might be a shift.

Over to you now. Are there any more points where Facebook is different to Twitter? Have you made a similar experience like me about the points mentioned above?



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