This is why twitterers are always tweeting links to their pages, photo albums, and event listings on Facebook, knowing that anyone with a Twitter account most likely has a Facebook account too and can access the content on these links.
But what interests me is the different ways these two platforms work, and which one is more effective—at least for my own purposes of announcing literary events and spurring action on various campaigns.
For me, Facebook is the winner hands down.
A Case In Point
Three days ago, I wrote an article on my blog titled “URGENT: Tree Poems Needed to Halt Logging”. The article outlined the efforts of poet Susan McCaslin to create a poetry installation in a rainforest in Langley, BC threatened by imminent sale and logging.
I then posted the link for my blog article to both Facebook and Twitter. I posted it about 6 places on Facebook, including various Facebook poetry and writing groups whose members would be interested. And I tweeted it 3 times on Twitter, using relevant hashtags to get the word out to specific regions of poets: #Vancouver #Montreal #Toronto, etc.
As of this instant, the link to that blog article has been shared 142 times on Facebook and 4 times on Twitter (with 3 of those 4 tweets being my own).
This result is typical of my experience using both social networks to promote the same thing. Facebook rules the day.
I have approximately the same number of followers on Twitter as I have friends on Facebook. In fact, I have slightly more followers on Twitter (1,400 Twitter followers vs. 1,300 Facebook friends).
Facebook Is A Conversation, Twitter Is A Billboard
You need about 20-50 times the number of followers on Twitter as friends on Facebook to achieve the same coverage. This is due, in part, to the different nature of the 2 platforms.
I actually read and interact with my Facebook newsfeed. And, illusory as it may be, I feel like I am communing with ‘real’ friends on Facebook. I cannot say the same for my Twitter feed, which I almost never take the time to read because it is glutted with sales pitches for eBooks, CDs, blog traffic, health fads, etc. As I wrote last year in “Power to the Tweeple”:
Facebook is a big noisy never-ending party that spills out into the yard and down the block, has videos running in the rec room, a band jamming in the kitchen, drinks spilled, doobies passed, some guy you barely know doing something unmentionable with a flower vase, and dozens of unrelated conversations brushing your arm and rushing up to meet you as you scroll through your newsfeed.
Twitter is none of this (except for the never-ending part). Twitter is more like an army of solipsists marching to the edge an infinitely long cliff, lining up along the rim, and all shouting into the abyss at once, none hearing the other.
So if nobody is really reading their Twitter feed, you are going to need many many more Twitter followers than Facebook friends to achieve the same effect.
But Twitter Can Bring Down Governments!
This is where Twitter is King—instant messaging. Twitter is, of course, famous for its 140-character limit on messages, and for being a primary organizing tool of Arab Spring.
Everybody on the planet (except for me) now has an iPhone, Smartphone, Android, Blackberry, or some other hand-held device with them at all times, making instant messaging ubiquitous. Whereas scrolling through the multi-faceted Facebook newsfeed, and the lengthy content it can support, is too cumbersome on a hand-held device.
So there you have it. Must flit off to the Twitosphere. I have already violated the cardinal rule of never exceeding 500 words on a blog post.