I’ve had an idea in my head for a post for almost two months. Essentially, I wanted to try to explain the difference between Twitter and Facebook in practical terms. Since the idea has sat in the hopper for so long, it has evolved a life of its own. I’ve seen new articles that both challenged and confirmed my thoughts, I have considered whether it is advantageous to be active in both Twitter and Facebook, I have written and rewritten my central premise. What I’ve decided to do is this. I’m going to break it up in to a multi-part post. This is Part 2.
Today, I want to explain the three biggest reasons that Twitter has become the best social network for sharing content. As I explained yesterday it’s not that you can’t use Twitter to form relationships, it’s just that it’s better for sharing content. There are three primary reasons for this; anonimity, @replies and the way Twitter allows you to focus.
The primary of these is the ability to focus on Twitter. Take myself as an example. If you’re friends with me on Facebook you know there’s a lot to me. I have friends, hobbies and even a sense of humor. If you follow me on Twitter, you don’t get to see much of that. You primarily see news and conversation about startups, social media and Pittsburgh. That’s because I choose to focus my Twitter account on these things, something that’s virtually impossible on Facebook. On Facebook they ask about my hobbies, they allow my friends to tag me in pictures and write on my wall, they want me to identify my real life friends. All of this leads to a page that presents the whole me; and most of the people that are friends with the whole me don’t care to find out every detail of the Pittsburgh Startup Scene. This is where Twitter comes in, I can seperate my passion for Pittsburgh startups from my passion for my friends and family. Meaning I don’t have to bore you with the fact that my friend Adam is getting married in February and I don’t have to bore Adam with the fact that AlphaLab had their demo day this week. This focus makes it much easier to follow content producers on Twitter.
Anonymity is another reason Twitter is ideal for content sharing. There are many great Twitter content producers that are anonymous. Jane Pitt, Shit My Dad Says, Jesus Christ, BP Global PR and others all started as anonymous accounts. Had those users had to link their real names (as Facebook requires) they never would have been able to share the things they shared. In addition to this screen to hide behind, anonymity also allows for a team of users to create a single stream. Take for example, the Post-Gazette. There is obviously more then one person contributing to their Twitter feed and I likely wouldn’t be friends on Facebook with any of them. However, I can follow them on Twitter and get their updates integrated in with my friends’.
Lastly, the system of @Replies, Retweets and favorites that Twitter has set up lends itself better to a content-centric network then Facebook’s commenting/liking system. The primary difference here is that if I “like” something on Twitter (by starring it), no one can see that unless they go to my page and see what I have starred. If I like something that I think that all of my followers should know about, I can retweet it. The fact that there are two different options for this, is much better suited to a content-sharing based network. Finally, If I choose to comment on a post using an @Reply, only the author of the post and anyone who follows BOTH myself and the author of the post see the comment. This means that when @ChrisDixon (a great Angel to follow) talks with one of his friends about where to go for dinner, it doesn’t pollute my stream. However, when @ChrisDixon talks with @FredWilson (another prominent investor) about a tech company, I can follow their conversation. This sounds like a simple system, but it really does a great job of filtering only the content I care about.
These three things together make Twitter much better suited for content sharing then Facebook is. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss why Facebook is better for building relationships then Twitter.