Twitter IS NOT the Same As Facebook Status Updates

twitter-facebookIsn’t Twitter just like Facebook updates?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this misconception. I think this issue can be attributed to the Twitter homepage’s question “What are you doing?”  This was always the main purpose of Facebook updates, to let your friends now what you’re doing.  While this may be an aspect of how people use twitter, it is a small one.  Twitter is used for much more which isn’t exactly explained on the homepage.

Facebook has recently remodeled their homepage, making it very similar to Twitter in that users are encouraged to post links, share content and it asks the question “What’s on your mind?”  While some might say that NOW facebook updates and twitter updates are essentially the same, there are still a few very big differences. (note: I’m not saying one is better than the other, rather that they serve different purposes)  Here are 5 of the major differences…

1) Focus

Facebook now offers many of the same functions that twitter does.  The difference is that Twitter focuses on these functions while Facebook’s live feed is only one of it’s many functions. While this may make facebook a more “well rounded” service, the great amount of functionality options create a a lot of clutter on the site, taking focus away from the feed.  When you’re on twitter, you’re there for one reason.

2) Audience

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two services is who reads your updates.  On facebook, the only people reading your updates are the people that you are friends with, meaning you both approved the friendship. When you post a message on twitter you are talking to the world.  Unless you keep your tweets private (an uncommon practice on twitter) anyone can search twitter and find your tweets.  Additionally, the people who receive your tweets in their homepage feed are anyone who’s interested enough to follow you, whether or not you follow them back.  This allows you to connect with anyone, not just who you already know.

3) Conversation

On the facebook feed, the conversation around an update comes in the form of comments that are listed under the update.  This greatly limits the amount of conversation you can have because it does not encourage the person who posted the original update to partake in the conversation any further.  Also, on twitter, if someone replies to an update, the conversation stays relevant because people continue to read about it.  On facebook, once the original update moves down the feed, so does the conversation.  Both facebook and twitter provide a private message option; facebook uses a direct messaging system and provides a private chat window while twitter only provides the direct message.

4) Retweets

Twitter makes it much easier for valuable content to go viral than facebook.  Someone can always post the link again but this is not as easy, or effective as twitter’s retweet.  To add on to the audience issue, when you post a link on facebook, only your friends can find it.  On twitter if you post a link, anyone can find it and share it with their followers using retweets.

5) Searchability

You can search the content on twitter. If you’re looking for posted links or any other content, just go to and search keywords.  There is no way to search the facebook feed. You either have to just keep scrolling, or remember who posted the update and check their feed.

So…in conclusion

The facebook feed and twitter may seem very similar in concept, however they are very different in purpose.  Still not convinced? Here’s a very general comparison…

Facebook is a great way to see what your friends are doing.  Twitter is a great way to see what the world is doing (friends included).

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Facebook: A Lesson in Damage Control

facebookIt’s that easy.  Tonight, Facebook proved that it knows how to handle the shockwaves of its mistakes.

If you haven’t heard about the issue concerning the Facebook terms of service (TOS), they recently changed a section of their terms of service that dealt with their rights over user information. The community interpreted this section as granting them ownership of anything that you post on Facebook and the right to use your information however they see fit.  This didn’t sit well with many of Facebook’s users. Whether it was because of the way they informed their users (they only announced it in a blog post), or just the new terms in general, there was a public outcry about the situation and a call to switch back to the old TOS. Facebook Groups were formed, the twittersphere was buzzing, and Facebook had to react…so they did.

Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook staff heard the voice of its users  and then posted on their blog trying to explain. Mark wrote:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work…People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other… It’s difficult terrain to navigate and we’re going to make some missteps, but as the leading service for sharing information we take these issues and our responsibility to help resolve them very seriously.

Mark ensured his users that Facebook is a place that you should feel safe and admitted to making some mistakes.  He appealed the community honestly and respectfully.  However, after a couple days, the Facebook community still wasn’t satisfied and continued to express their feelings.  Facebook posted a poll to find that there was a strong disapproval of their new TOS.  Tonight, Facebook realized that this issue is important to its users and must be remedied, so they reverted back to the old Terms of Service and posted this on their blog.

The excerpt on the homepage read as follows:

A couple of weeks ago, we posted an update to our Terms of Use that we hoped would clarify some parts of it for our users. Over the past couple of days, we have received a lot of questions and comments about these updated terms and what they mean for people and their information. Because of the feedback we received, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

We all make mistakes.  Everyone from the expert to the graduate, from the big corporation to the smallest start-up takes a miss-step at some point.  What matters is how you deal with it.  Facebook messed up and violated something that the online community holds sacred, it’s right to its personal information.  While Facebook may have not had any intention to use this information in an unfavorable manner, its users were clearly uncomfortable and Facebook responded…quick. Now if they decide to edit their Terms of Service again (they say they will) you can be reasonably certain that they will think very much about how they communicate these changes.

The Lesson: Show that you’re listening, respond honestly and quickly. If all else fails, make the necessary sacrifice in order to keep your customers’ trust because in the end, that’s all that matters.

Well done Facebook.

A Community For Your Community

Sky view of Long Beach, NY - My Community
Sky view of Long Beach, NY - My Community

Does your local community have a web community?  My neighborhood just started one on facebook and I think it’s an awesome idea that really takes advantage of the benefits that social media provides.

The group description says it pretty well. “Our group aims to grow, build and strengthen relationships in our local community of Long Beach in order to bring about progressive change.” Those of us familiar with social media, know that it is all about building relationships.  In a local community, relationships are everything.

Bringing your neighborhood together creates a general compassion for eachother’s issues.  When you feel like you know someone personally, you feel more inclined to want to help them.  By creating a common place for discussion and relationship building amongst local community members, you give people a chance to tell their story, and to care about those around them.

The Long Beach “Community of Hope” facebook group aims to educate community members on issues discussed in meetings and events in order to bring about change.  Let’s be real, not everyone in your community is always involved in community issues.  By creating a place for these people to quickly and easily stay up to date on what’s going around them and express their opinion from their home computer, you allow them to contribute to the voice of the community, while staying connected with other members.

Social media, because of its ability to reach anyone in the world, is commonly applied to large, widespread campaigns. There are so many more opportunities through social media that can be applied to local, real world communities as well. What are some that you’ve seen or come up with?