Facebook vs. Twitter – Who Delivers?

Obviously we don’t really need to choose. Authors, artists, activists, and even non-A people can have a cyber-finger in both social media pies. And most of us do.

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.

You can dig me on Twitter at @KimPigSquash: https://twitter.com/KimPigSquash or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/kim.goldberg.71 

Peace out.

About Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg is a poet, journalist and the author of 8 books of poetry and nonfiction. Latest titles: DEVOLUTION (poems of ecopocalypse), UNDETECTABLE (her Hep C journey in haibun), RED ZONE (poems of homelessness) and RIDE BACKWARDS ON DRAGON: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa. She lives in Nanaimo, BC. Contact: goldberg@ncf.ca
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8 Responses to Facebook vs. Twitter – Who Delivers?

  1. Great post, Kim! It’s interesting that you’ve noticed such a different response on FB vs Twitter. I’m not a FB fan. I know it can result in some pretty cool conversations, but I prefer the quickness of Twitter. And for conversations, I love blogs. I have 2 blogs of my own, and visit many others on a daily basis. I find FB too nosy. I don’t like how it tells everyone what you like, what you comment on, who you friend, etc. Too each his own. Nice to have choices.

    • Kim Goldberg says:

      Hi Doreen. 🙂 Yes, a lot of people object to facebook’s ‘nosiness’, as you say – letting everyone know who you are friending, what you are liking, etc. I actually like that because it puts me in front of people I wouldn’t otherwise know about or ever connect with. And I am mainly on FB to connect and network – and ideally with people I don’t already know, because I have other ways to network with people I do know. Also, for me at least, facebook has a “fun” factor that twitter lacks. But one thing I do really like twitter for is its global quality. I am much more likely to connect with people from “developing” nations (if that term is even still in use) on twitter than on FB.

      • quillfyre says:

        I actually got the info in my email because I subscribe to your blog on wordpress. And I sent off a poem to Susan. All without either FB or Twitter. I do make sure that my own blog posts go to both, but I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter myself. I haven’t taken the time to learn it, and I am not concise enough to carry on conversations in 140 characters. Can’t even write a decent poem on Twitter. I have many more friends on FB than followers on Twitter, so FB is my media of choice for now. Or emailed newsfeeds. I don’t think I saw your FB post at all.

  2. This is very helpful Kim. All achieved in one post which is easy and quick to read. Thank you.

  3. Alice Major says:

    Kim, I’m curious to know whether there is a big overlap between your FB friends and Twitter followers. Or are they different groups and therefore, maybe, people with different interests and commitments. I’m a Facebook person myself, and don’t really get why I should have a Twitter account, but I know a lot of people do like it. So I’m curious whether there is some sort of self-selection process that results in the different response levels. (It seems so many of my FB friends are writers…..)

    • Kim Goldberg says:

      Hi Alice! 🙂 There is very little overlap between my twitter followers and my facebook friends – and I think this is the nub of the reason why FB is so much more effective (and fun!) for me. My FB friends are, for the most part, people I actually share common interests with. So a lot of sharing (of posts, links, photos, ideas, etc.) occurs. My twitter followers are basically a result of me following back (almost) anyone who follows me. And most of these people seem to be on twitter to push a product or service – to hawk something. And that is what 90% of their tweets are about. So consequently, I don’t really find twitter ‘fun’ in the way that FB is for me.

  4. Dylan Perry says:

    Curious to know if you still feel FB is the way to go?

    • Kim Goldberg says:

      Hi Dylan. Yes I do, even though my FB account has been deactivated for about 5 months now. (I will be reactivating it before too long.)

      Facebook, for me at least, dramatically outperforms twitter in terms of views, shares, likes – just general propagation of a message – by a factor of about 100. Facebook is a friendlier and more interactive medium, and that accounts for greater message propagation, imo. On twitter, people are mainly ‘broadcasting’. On Facebook they are talking. Also, even though I have about 5 times as many twitter followers as I have Facebook friends, my FB friends are in most cases actual friends – either real world or virtual friends. Whereas I hardly ‘know’ any of my 5,800 twitter followers.

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