At first glance, this might seem to be a no-competition. With 1.86 billion active users every month (as reported in February 2017), Facebook is nearly 6 times larger than Twitter – which has an active monthly user base of 285 million. By the end of this year, the total user-count of FB will comfortably go past the 2 billion mark. However, the Twitter microblogging platform has its very own advantages – and in this Twitter vs Facebook comparative analysis, we will find out which of these social media platforms is more useful for businesses:
Twitter is a no-frills platform, where you can start to promote your business from the word go. Even if you do not bother redesigning the home page, it won’t look particularly out-of-place (okay, maybe a little common). On the other hand though, a Facebook business page has to be properly customized first – with a high-quality cover image, a profile picture, and other visual elements – before you can start to post on it. A FB business page with missing cover image and only a handful of ‘likes’ is hardly of any value.
Note: It’s almost like a certain social standard has to be maintained, when you start to use Facebook for business. On Twitter, there are no such ‘minimum standards’.
Longevity of posts
Facebook aces this one. The platform is ideal for building long-term relationships with prospective customers – and posts made on FB pages exist forever. Visibility is determined by the special algorithm used by Facebook, and depends crucially on the number of ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘shares’ each post generates (i.e., interaction levels). Twitter, however, is all about the ‘here-and-the-now’ – with new tweets coming up thick and fast, crowding out the older tweets. In order to retain visibility, posts have to be much more frequently (multiple times a day) made than on FB. On the latter, a popular post can keep bringing in viewers for a week.
Business vs Personal
Do you want your business to be contacted by individuals (and not only by other businesses) via social media? If yes, Twitter will be the network to go with. On Facebook, there is a clear distinction between ‘personal pages’ and ‘business pages’ – and general users can only leave messages on these FB ‘business pages’. Twitter offers greater convenience in this regard – simply because there are no personal/business distinctions here. Anyone interested in your company can directly contact with your business by adding a ‘@’.
Connecting with new people
Say, you are an entrepreneur – and you wish to network with other business leaders from your domain. On Facebook, you have to search for their profiles, and send along separate ‘friend requests’ to each of them. There is no certainty whether these ‘friend requests’ will be accepted (or even viewed, for that matter!). Twitter bypasses this potential roadblock easily. You can directly contact others here, to ask questions, initiate conversations, resolve queries, exchange opinions, or simply ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ others’ posts.
Last year, a survey found that posts with videos had the highest ‘reach’ on Facebook (nearly 1% higher than general status updates; more than double than that of images). Over time, video marketing has become an effective tool in the hands of businesses – and Facebook is often the preferred platform for that. In fact, FB might well be considered as a rival of YouTube in this regard. Twitter has a slightly different (and not as effective) strategy for video marketing – with the focus being more on short videos and live user streams, through apps like Vine (uploads discontinued last October) and Periscope. In general, Facebook has the edge when it comes to getting maximum exposure for relatively longer video clips.
Note: Over the last couple of years, the organic reach of FB posts (in particular) has been going down. This has happened due to changes in the underlying algorithms, and has brought paid advertising into the picture.
Short information bursts vs interactive storytelling
Facebook is the ideal channel to introduce your product, give it a personality, and create an engaging story about it. If viewers find your style of storytelling interesting, they will interact through comments (and maybe even direct messages). Twitter’s 140-character limit, on the other hand, makes it ideal for sharing bit-sized pieces of facts, stats and other information. Optimal usage of hashtags ensure that the tweets remain relevant for some time. Given the speed of information flow in the Twitterati, the same tweets might have to be shared multiple times.
Note: Last month, Twitter stopped counting the ‘@’ replies in the 140-character limit.
Using several accounts
Businesses can create as many twitter accounts as they want – depending on their requirements. Although not a particularly ethical option, creating multiple accounts to share the same tweets (thereby keeping the info on top of the feed) is also a strategy often resorted to. Facebook, however, is more closely policed. Creation and posting from multiple FB accounts repeatedly can lead to any (or all!) of the pages getting banned. In case the individual user page – to which the business page is linked – gets banned, that can be a big problem. Last week, Facebook launched yet another campaign to remove spam accounts.
Audience and budget
If you are an entrepreneur with a large number of friends/followers on FB, it is a good idea to divert that audience to a dedicated business page. Given that these followers are already interested in your activities – it is relatively easy to start promoting stuff to them gradually. The Twitter platform, in comparison, is more suited towards more niche topics and activities (and the pre-existence of a larger group of followers is not required). The Twitter audience is typically more likely to participate in live event feeds, latest news topics and other real-time events, than on Facebook – which is more about ‘passive engagement’. In addition, to increase the number of ‘likes’ for a FB business page beyond a point, some paid campaigns are required – and having a budget for that becomes necessary. It is much easier to increase Twitter followers without having to spend money.
Note: ‘Buying followers’ on Twitter and availing any auto-liker service on Facebook are both serious black-hat strategies. You should steer well clear of such activities.
With gradually dwindling organic post ‘reach’, both Facebook and (to a lesser extent) Twitter are moving to a ‘pay-to-play’ environment. Over here, FB offers greater advantages to users. While both Facebook and Twitter paid advertising are detailed and user-friendly, the former goes deeper while targeting the audience. The most important factor, however, is the significantly higher costs for running ad campaigns on Twitter. Researches have found that, FB ads are almost 5 times cheaper than advertisements on Twitter.
Virality and real-time news
In a matter of minutes, a hashtag can start to trend on Twitter. For instance, if you are a mobile app developer, you can start using a particular hashtag (related to apps) in your tweets and get others in your circle to do the same. As soon as the number of ‘average mentions’ of a topic goes beyond a point, that topic starts to trend (the minimum bar required for trending varies from one topic to another). While Facebook also introduced trending topics in 2014 – the FB trends are not as reflective of the actual buzz among people, simply because very few people keep the visibility of their posts as ‘Public’. Most people come on Facebook to casually browse around – while the Twitter audience is, on average, more focused and on the lookout for real-time updates on the latest topics of interest.
Note: Although the overall user-base is much larger in Facebook, Twitter might well have the more relevant group of followers for your business. On the microblogging platform, a much larger percentage of users (49%) follow companies, than on Facebook.
11. Different metrics for measuring popularity
Twitter is about proactively tweeting, very frequently, and on recent, relevant topics. Facebook is more oriented towards posts that have greater staying power – with a definite storytelling angle. This difference between the two platforms is best highlighted by the metrics they push out as a measure of their popularity. Facebook typically cites the number of ‘active users’ per day or per month, and the amount of time viewers ‘stick’ to a page. Twitter, on its part, focuses on the ‘number of tweets sent out in a day’ – emphasising on the higher rate of information turnover.
Among social media networks, Facebook is a behemoth. It is larger than Twitter or Instagram or WhatsApp many times over – and there is way too much content over here. According to SMO experts, only around 20% of all posts on business pages are visible to targeted users. Visibility can be enhanced only by ‘boosting’ posts (i.e., paid advertising). However, if you are active enough on Twitter, there is every chance of being able to reach out to every single of your followers without launching a paid campaign. The fact that Twitter offers better searchability is yet another advantage.
Facebook, with its ecosystem of groups, communities, apps and games, offers more to general users than Twitter – which is, in essence, an platform to quickly share information/opinions. However, from a strictly business perspective – the smaller microblogging platform offers greater advantages, particularly for users which have plenty of content to share…and is willing to tweet frequently. Social media marketing can no longer afford to be only about Facebook – with Twitter and the other networks being considered only as an after-thought. Twitter for business is growing bigger – and if you neglect it, you do so at your own peril!
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