Facebook or Twitter: Image Creative Commons Showing The Ropes by Pete, on Flickr

Do I want Facebook or Twitter for my Business?

It’s a tug of war of sorts.

Facebook copies Twitter. Twitter copies Facebook. This goes on and on. Call it competition, tug of war, or innovation. Regardless, it’s good for the consumer.

Who has the bigger audience? Who has the most spam? Who’s trying to pry into your personal details?

So, I’m a business, which should I use?

I’m always amazed at this question. Why not both?

But if you really have to choose, ask yourself this:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Who do you want to reach?
  • Do you want to build up one and then the other?
  • Can you devote the time to doing them both simultaneously?
*Disclaimer 1: Twitter and Facebook could change any of what I’m about to point out at any time. This post was written on August 19, 2014.
*Disclaimer 2: It’s hard for me to be objective. Everyone who knows me knows I favor Twitter and my own numbers support that. This is my best effort to present objective pros and cons.

Below I compare Twitter and Facebook by feature. I apologize for the length, but every business has different needs, people who will be using the platform, and how (mobile or desktop) they will use it. You’ll need to consider them all to choose.

First Things First

Facebook and Twitter have entirely different cultures and different rules, protocols, or expectations.

Respect each platform for its own benefits, audience, and culture. I beg you not to connect the two so that you Tweet to Facebook or Tweet from Facebook. Just because something is easy, doesn’t mean it’s good.

You will be judged for being lazy, disregarding either audience, and people will wonder if you’ll ever respond. (Ya, I said it.)

Read: “Social Media: Different Platform, Different Language” by Carol Stephen

Audience Size

According to Facebook, they have “829 million daily active users on average in June 2014.” That’ too large of an audience to ignore this platform. A lot of people have recently said it’s not worth posting on Facebook anymore. I disagree.

Twitter has 271 million active users.

They both have massive, growing audiences. This won’t change. They haven’t jumped the shark or lost out like Myspace.

Culture

Facebook’s post-and-go, ego-centric culture is the biggest downside in my opinion. Think about it. Are you a Facebook user? How often do you sign on and spend more time reading and commenting on other people’s posts than posting for yourself?

Twitter offers convenience of conversation in real time which gives birth to Twitter Chats. That’s just not possible on Facebook, though people have tried a few times. It’s not the same.

Custom URL

Your Twitter handle is the ending of your Twitter profile’s URL (fancy geek-speak for website address). My handle is @YouTooCanBeGuru so my profile is www.twitter.com/youtoocanbeguru.

On Facebook, you need 25 likes (from people, not Pages) to customize your URL. Then go to facebook.com/username and make the choice. You can only change it once, though, so choose wisely.

Post Lifespan

Houseflies live longer than tweets. This is a downside and an upside. It also means you can repeat tweets (within reason) or cycle them as I say.

Facebook pushes content back to the top when people comment, even on older posts. This can be a major benefit. The more people comment or share your Page’s post the more likely it will be seen by others. Recently, there’s been a drop in this reach, but it’s still better than Twitter in some ways. This behavior is known as post bumping and is seen negatively if you do it to your own posts. Also, don’t like your own posts.

Photos

Twitter allows you to upload up to four photos per tweet. They also have the ability to edit photos for size and apply filters. You can also tag users. Twitter does not support live image preview of any other type of photo (Instagram, Owly, et al).

Don’t tag people who aren’t in the photo. This goes for both platforms. It’s very spammy.

Though Twitter is trying to be like Facebook on the photo front, Facebook’s math favors photos. So if you’re taking photos of food, products, scenery, you’ll want to be on Facebook.

Guy Kawasaki once said: “Twitter is a link economy; Facebook is a photo economy.”

Facebook Pages allow photo uploading but their mobile app currently only allows you to upload one photo at a time. Desktop allows you to post in albums. Cross posted Instagram photos are supported, of course. You can only tag Pages in the photos. Unless you go back on the desktop version as yourself and then you can tag profiles. It’s a bit awkward.

Mobile v. Desktop

Twitter has virtually the same functionality in their mobile app as desktop.

Facebook’s Pages app is severely limited.

Followers

Twitter does not distinguish its users between business and personal. That is done on your end via use of logo, name, bio.

Facebook does not allow businesses to have profiles. They must be Pages. They can only interact with other Pages on the desktop version. Currently the Pages app has no “home feed.” This is a downside in my view and I hope it changes soon.

Fans

Twitter allows you to have 2,000 followers before a ratio is imposed. In my experience that ratio comes back at 5k and 9k followers. So it’s better to follow back everyone that isn’t selling followers or porn stars. Only celebrities get verified accounts. So the rest of us need to reciprocate. And if you’re a business, why would you want to leave anyone out? You never know who’s behind the account.

Facebook Pages can have an unlimited number of people and Pages who like the Page. However, Page likes are not counted in the overall number of likes. Why? I have no idea. Also, Facebook does impose any ratios of likes to likes the way Twitter does. So you can be totally self-centered without any consequences. (Did I just say that?)

Native Posting

Both Twitter and Facebook favor native posting.

What does native men? Native means posting within the actual platform (not using Hootsuite to post, for example). If I’m tweeting a photo,  I upload it on Twitter(dot)com or in the Twitter app. Same with Facebook.

Twitter does not support live preview of photos other than its own posting. The only reason to post photos on Twitter is so they will be seen. This is a downside if you’re a major fan of third-party posting apps.

Facebook’s math (Edge Rank) will discriminate against a post that came from Buffer, Hootsuite, et al. They already make it hard to get an audience, why would you post by a third-party app and further cripple yourself? It only saves about 40 seconds.

Home Feed

Twitter’s home feed is real time.

Facebook’s home feed has two options: most recent and top stories. Neither necessarily contain everything posted. The home feed for Pages is not currently available in the Pages App.

Sharing

Twitter has the retweet button, which I rarely use. Go old school (read here about different styles of retweets) and either reply or quote the tweet.

Facebook allows Pages to share onto their profile easily but only on desktop. The Pages app doesn’t have the home feed for Pages.

Highlighting Posts

Twitter allows you to pin a tweet to the top of your profile on the desktop version, not mobile, but it isn’t visible anywhere else.

Facebook allows you to pin a post to the top of your Page on desktop or their Pages app and it is visible in both.

Hashtags

Hashtags for search (see video) originated on Twitter for search purposes (as well as chats, branding, sarcasm – read more here).

Facebook allowed hashtags after it bought Instagram (#instagrammershashtagrunonsentenceslikethisthatmakenosense).

Use them if you want but know that only public results come up for a hashtag search.

That’s good for Pages, but if the people aren’t using it, then what’s the point? Though Facebook allows the functionality, it’s own culture there hasn’t embraced it. It just looks like you’re cross-posting.

Scheduling

I’ve blogged about this. But really, you shouldn’t fully automate. But that’s another post.

Twitter allows third party tools for scheduling including TweetDeck (that they own), Buffer, Hootsuite, MiniDeck, etc.

Facebook allows third parties for posting (but discriminates in Edge Rank) but also allows native scheduling for your posts. I wish they’d let you schedule a share.

Live Audience

Facebook Pages and Twitter (third party tools) both allow for scheduling. But you’re more likely to see a live audience on Twitter.

Twitter is about what’s happening now. This is perfect for any event you may be promoting.

Facebook is rarely live. Like I said earlier, we post about what we’re doing, then sign off.

Events

Though Twitter doesn’t have native event listings there are tools like Meetup that allow for this.

Facebook has the advantage with event listings and allows businesses, like people, to create events and send invitations to Facebook users.

Lists

Lists are great on Twitter. You can list any way you choose: geography, topic, interests.

Currently, Facebook Pages cannot make lists. So if you want to interact with other Pages, you may have to go search them out. It’s a bit tedious.

Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Customer (B2C)

Business is all about relationships. Personally, I favor Twitter for this task because of the real-time, list filtering, more engaging culture.

Retail can more easily measure their return on investment if they post “show this post/tweet to get x% off or a free cookie when you order” kind of post.

Twitter is perfect for retail. Food trucks are famous for tweeting out their locations. Relators can use Twitter to announce an open house. Any event gains greatly by using Twitter.

Facebook is well-suited for retail since people buy word-of-mouth and Facebook shows “so-and-so” just checked-in to or liked [insert name of swanky brand here]. Keeping up with the Joneses works. Facebook lends itself easily to that inner drive.

Metrics

Twitter is trying to offer more stats. Third party tools can give you information. Some are free and some are paid.

Facebook Pages have “insights” that tell you quite a bit of information in general or by post. They’ve got that down.

Advertising

Both Facebook and Twitter have advertising platforms; I’ve used neither. However, I have been listening to Gary Vaynerchuk a lot lately who raves about Twitter Cards and Facebook’s dark posts.

Your Two Cents

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