Twitter Insights From A Facebook Crowd
Twitter Insights From A Facebook Crowd
Twitter Insights From A Facebook Crowd

I’ve been spending some time watching my Facebook friends and their use of the tool. No, I’m not stalking. I’m convinced there’s a vast difference in how most people use social networking sites and how those inside the social media bubble do. For instance, I’ve noticed when I post Facebook status updates, which I refuse to connect to my Tweets for fear of seeming disingenuous to my Facebook friends, few of my social media friends respond. Several of my high school or college (read: mainstream users) friends do, however.

I posted this status update on Facebook a few days ago and thought the responses were interesting. Of those listed, three are people I would consider contacts made through my work in social media. One is a carry-over friend from my personal networking days on MySpace (yeah, I was there). The others are either college or high school friends, work colleagues before I was involved in social media and one cousin. (Bonus points if you can identify the MySpace friend or the cousin.)

See what they thought about Twitter.

Facebook fans speak out about Twitter

So what does this tell you? Sure, it’s anecdotal evidence at best, but shouldn’t we consider examples like this when developing social media efforts for Facebook? For Twitter? Can we at least not see that one network’s messages do not carry over well?

What do you think? Better yet, ask a similar question of your Facebook network and report your findings in the comments.

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at
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  • It all comes down to relevance. If people are not able to find relevance quickly on Twitter, it serves little use for them. I have always thought increasing early relevance for new users should be one of Twitter's top priorities.

    • Certainly agree there, J. Thanks for chiming in.

  • I started out on Twitter in early 2007, after learning of its existence at RubyConf 2006 and from Kathy Sierrra's “Creating Passionate Users” blog. Up until about a year ago, nearly all of my Twitter contacts were fellow Ruby programming language enthusiasts.

    Then, about a year ago, I “joined the Portland Twitter community”. I had heard of Facebook, but didn't have an account. I finally joined Facebook towards the middle of 2009. Most of my Facebook friends are either from the Portland Twitter community or from the Ruby community.

    So I think it's fair to say I probably wouldn't even be on Facebook were it not for Twitter. Of my 300 Facebook friends, perhaps 5 are people that I met in real life before Twitter. And nearly all the people I regularly talk with on line are in both networks. Moreover, the capabilities of the platforms and the use cases, both commercial and non-commercial, are profoundly different.

    • Neat perspective to hear, Z. Thanks for sharing.

  • I think Ian and Chris Koch expressed the most accurate concepts about the differences between Twitter and FB. People who diss Twitter have no idea how it works or why it exists. They still think it's all about the ham sandwich, when it's evolved far beyond that.

    While explaining the differences to clients (for marketing purposes), I think it's important to emphasize that relationships (between personal profiles) are very different because FB is symmetrical and Twitter is not. But relationships with fan pages are asymmetrical. Those create different inherent challenges and opportunities.

    Also, FB allows for more graphic posts. You'll definitely get more interest in your status updates if you post a photo or link to a Web site than if you do a text-only update.

    The other important thing to explain to clients about the differences is that FB is a fairly constrained platform in that everything is set up to work a certain way, so behavior is fairly specific and predictable – and not terribly viral. Twitter, on the other hand, has become amazingly complex in its simplicity. The community of Twitter users find different ways to use it every day and most of the apps created have a business-related purpose.

    When I train clients on these platforms, we have to spend FAR more time on Twitter, even though the mechanics of it are simple. It’s not about the mechanics, it’s about the ethos and ecosystem.

    Finally, the evolution of the platforms has created different audiences, but I think they will become more similar over time. FB started with college students, so until 2009 it skewed younger. And when it started skewing older, it was an expansion of BOTH those who were connected to youngsters as well as technology enthusiasts and early adopters. Twitter started out with the latter. But recent data indicates it is skewing younger all the time.

    I’ve often said Twitter is like crack cocaine for the intellectually curious. It also the fastest and best way to build a personal brand – and is now a good way to enhance a business brand as well. But if you don’t want to network and you don’t have an insatiable appetite for news in your chosen field and/or from your “tribe,” Twitter might never make sense for you.

    Social Profiles:

    • Awesome thoughts here Carri. Thanks for sharing. Good perspective on
      the evolution of the two platforms.

  • veronicabaker

    As an avid Twitter AND Facebook user, it's important to regain perspective on how your friends and network utilize one or the other, and why. Now that I can't seem to live without Twitter (sad…but I think you understand where I'm coming from), it's shocking to read that people believe Facebook provides them with everything they need. They may not realize it now, but I have a feeling they might feel differently in the next year or so.

    • They might. But then again if the network of people they care about
      doesn't migrate, maybe not. It's all in who you want to connect with!
      Thanks Veronica!

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  • Nguyener0127

    I use Facebook as a way to catch up on all my friends. However, they hardly share what they've read in the news or find interesting…just personal comments on what they are thinking at the moment.

    On Twitter, I have lists set up for sustainability, policy, local news, technology, etc. This is my way of catching up on the latest industry updates in 140 characters or less. Depending on what I find interesting and relevant to my career goals, I can post it as a LinkedIn status message using #in. Whatever I find funny from my Twitter stream, I have enabled Selective Tweets to retweet that message as my Facebook status using #fb so I can share it with my Facebook friends.

    • Not an uncommon use, Mellissa. Sounds like it's a system that serves
      you well. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Facebook feels like hanging out with the guys in your neighbourhood.

    Whereas Twitter is like being on the Stock Exchange..fluctuations…
    one feels like they are being graded on every update.

    One can be strong on FB and still learning on Twitter…learning what
    interests others and who to connect with and who answers you.

    I see many people online or with pre-recorded updates that must
    take hours of thought!


    • Great analogies, Ziona. I can see both in my own experiences there.
      Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Hi Jason,

    I have posed the question on my Facebook profile and have gotten two response so far. Will come back with more information if anyone else answers. One person who answered finds Twitter overwhelming and the other doesn't feel like she has information she wants to share on Twitter.

    For myself, I joined at the end of 2007 and found it utterly confusing–at first. After I understood how it could be used and how much I could learn from the people I follow I fell down the rabbit hole and became an addict. I agree with one of the earlier comments, Twitter is what you make of it.
    I'll report back if anyone else responds to my question. Interesting. Thanks.

    • Awesome Allen. Thanks for taking the time. Interested to see what your
      network says!

  • Jason,

    We can indeed see that one network's message does not carry over well. This is a great reason for businesses using social media to provide facebook users with exclusive content, separate from twitter. However, if I'm posting exclusive content to my facebook users, I will tell twitter users to head on over to facebook and check it out.

    That wouldn't work with facebook users, because as your update shows, they won't “head on over” to twitter because they aren't there. However, I'm willing to bet reactions would be the opposite if you asked twitter users how many of them use facebook… I'll go on a limb and say 95% of twitter users also use facebook (frequency may vary)… that's not really on limb is it?

    In summary, if “exclusive” content makes people want to interact with you or makes them feel a special connection to your brand, post it on facebook, then tell the twitter peeps it's there. I don't check my facebook as frequently, but if you tell me something is there, I'll find it.

    • Good thought, Michael. Thanks for the contribution.

  • tunguy3n

    yea agree with Allison, i was the same way when i first used twitter, and now i've overlooked FB for twitter, i guess it's just my preference in the sm big 3, also facebook has copied many of twitter's real-live features anyways.. #imho twitter is more about real-time interaction and Fb is good for those friends you don't talk to often, but would say hi too bcuz you know they're afraid to step into the twittyverse.

  • I have a hard time believing people can make a sound judgement of something they have never used. When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was ridiculous. And it made sense, because I only knew like 2 people, who I could very well just email or text. Being on Twitter with no followers or following anyone is like being on Facebook with no friends. It just doesn't work, and I don't really blame anyone for thinking they wouldn't like it. But that's the problem – in order to see if you'd like it, you *must* use it first. Catch-22, my friend.

    As an aside, I keep my Facebook and Twitter updates connected, because for the most part, my tweets are pretty much what I would be updating on my status. occasionally though, I'll tweet several times in a row, which I know isn't so good on Facebook so I'll just click over to FB and delete some of the status updates. To me it's a time-saver and no reason to just rewrite what I've already written, but I think it depends on your audience for both. My Twitter account is very personal, just like FB, so it's usually not a problem.

    • Certainly agree, Allison. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. But
      knowing a fair number (I'm guessing) don't want to try it, we need to
      think a bit differently about how we approach both networks for

      Good to see you here again, by the way!

    • Nguyener0127

      Allison, try the Selective Tweets application on Facebook so not all of your Tweets show up on Facebook. Simply add #fb somewhere in your Tweets to update your Facebook status! I recently discovered that, it helped my friends a lot!

  • mikeboehmer57

    Jason: I posted your question on Facebook and got similar responses. A lot of people see Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) as a place where people just post about their daily activities. They don't understand that you can build powerful networks — by sharing links to valuable information, retweeting, direct messaging… And they don't realize how much valuable information is shared, great stuff just there for the taking. Some do, however, understand the power of Twitter and are using it to achieve strategic goals.

    • Awesome. Thanks for the effort, Mike. Good to gather more insights on
      the ideas.

  • I bet if someone sat down with them and showed them how twitter would work if they were following interesting people versus people they know who are boring, they would change their tune. In my experience, this has always been the case. I've been able to change the minds of quite a few college students about twitter, and if I remember correctly they're the group that was most notably missing from it.

    • No doubt you're right, Joseph. Just wonder if there are enough hand
      holders (or patience) out there. Keep doing what you're doing, bro!

  • modsuperstar

    These are the same people who were probably late adopters to Facebook. Personally I find Facebook is old news to me. I use it simply as a broadcast medium for my blogs and tweets and use Twitter when I want to actually interact with someone. All the content shared on Facebook is a day late and a buck short compared to the speed with which Twitter works at.

    • Good to see someone on the Twitter side of the aisle chime in. Thanks!

  • Someone asked me the other day 'How am I differentiating my twitter to my facebook' and it wasn't a matter of 'how' it was the fact that you have the chance to connect with a totally different audience. This 'research' is a great example, if you just focused on twitter you're missing out on a lot of potential readers.

    There is too much noise on twitter (depending on how you've set it up and watch other tweets) I find that I keep up with all my status updates on FB and actually interested in them – 80% are old highschool friends.

    Sarge |

    • Thanks for the input, Sarge. Great thoughts here.

  • It seems like part of the problem is the original intent behind, and use of, Twitter. It's not longer a status update mechanism, but can and should be so much more. This is no one's fault in particular, but Twitter has evolved faster than people's perception of its use and benefits. It's easy for people like us to be a bit high-and-might about this (“if they don't get it, screw 'em”), but it's more worthwhile to help communicate the value of twitter, and to lead by example. I'm guilty of both, but I'm striving to lean toward helping people understand this great new tool.

    • Interesting take, Ian. Thanks for sharing. I would agree that the fast
      rise of Twitter has left a lot of people in the dust. Perhaps they'll
      see its usefulness more gradually. Thanks for sharing.

  • I use twitter and linkedin for professional things, and facebook for personal stuff.

    Although tonight after a webinar with social media expert, Mili Ponce, I made a “public” facebook account, so I can join groups and be more business-orientated. The potential to network with likeminded professional people seems a no-brainer.

    Most of my facebook friends couldn't give 2 hoots about firefox add-ons or a study on website conversions, so it was the right thing to do to separate the two out, plus I wasn't born to be a “suit” and I didn't want to “tone down” my private status updates.

    Twitter and Linked in have worked very well for my business and commercially, I want to engage on facebook too.

    I agree with Jim, twitter is great for meeting new people. I find I learn a lot by following their tweets – that's one thing you miss when you work from home. Just the website links recommended makes twitter invaluable for a growing business.

    • Sounds like you've got a good approach there. Thanks for sharing.

  • I'm finding thus far that my Facebook friends are mostly people that I already know in some way who are interested in keeping in touch in some way. Most of my Twitter followers, on the other hand, have never met me in person but may be interested in what I'm doing or in networking with me. There's a question of how much time I want to devote to Twitter vs Facebook involved for me since I use both, but for those who exclusively do one or the other I suspect whichever service they use probably provides roughly the level of interaction that they're looking for (albeit probably with room for improvement in both cases). What I can't deny is that Twitter does seem thus far to be the more effective way to get a person's attention if you don't know them already. Of course, there IS crossover – I have friends I've known for a while on Twitter and Twitter followers who've also friended me on Facebook. But for the most part, I'd say I primarily use Facebook for interacting with people I know and Twitter for interacting with people I don't know (but would like to).

    • Thanks for that perspective Jim. I like that description of the
      differences in friends on each. I think it rings true for a lot of

  • I Facebook and Tweet enough to qualify for addiction therapy treatment. I have both business and personal accounts on each site.

    I've had quite a few Facebook friends try Twitter and bug off after one tweet. I've TRIED to get my friends, who have businesses, to Tweet but they are hesitant.

    I feel that most people enjoy connections that last longer than a blip of 140 characters or an image/link you must click on. The big difference, to me, is that Facebook allows images – images speak to people and convey emotions/messages easily. Plus, on Facebook you can annoy everyone by detailing your intimate thoughts, short of a blog post.

    Twitter is a tease. You must enjoy being a sleuth to uncover the gem under the soft layer of the Tweet. OR it's for us skimmers who prefer the bombardment of information but choosy about what we will investigate or respond to.

    I have people follow me from Twitter but I've stopped giving out my Facebook info. Sometimes, 140 characters is quite enough.

  • Erin McMahon

    Here are initial responses to the question I posted on facebook.


    Erin McMahon: Dear Friends – tell me your thoughts on twitter. :)

    A: I think Twitter is boring.

    B: I know people that use it constantly, but I don't get it!

    C: What's the point? Its like facebook in too few characters!

    A: It's like 1-dimensional Facebook.

    D: obnoxious is what I thought – and seems too shallow in capacity due to the minimalism of it–those are my first thoughts

    E: My thoughts: tweet THIS! ;)

    F: I don't want to add anymore non-human contacting to my day. Email & fb are enough.

    G: I'm in agreement with all of the above.

    H: hahaha, epic FAIL on twitter.


    This is obviously a small number of responses, but I see echoes in the above responses of what has already been said here- many people don't understand what twitter is or how to use it (“Don't get it” “What's the point”).

    I kind of think that this is natural selection in action. Those who are least fit to survive/thrive in the environment (to use/understand/add value/get value/etc.) are naturally selected out so that only the strongest/best adapted remain.

    • Awesome list. Thanks for the effort. It's interesting to see someone
      else's Facebook friends responding similarly. Good work Erin. Now
      we've got a bit more data to work with.

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  • JStolarcyk

    People who don't understand what Twitter is or have a base of followers to communicate with on Twitter don't like Twitter. Gasp.

    If I had nobody to call, I'd think having a phone was silly, too.

    • Funny … and a good point. Giving them critical mass of people to
      communicate with is fundamental to their finding usefulness. Thanks!

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  • Twitter isn't a social network and it's not necessarily for marketing. It's a tool or a channel, just like a phone.

    Facebook is paint by numbers, Twitter is a blank canvas. More creative people like Twitter, usually the less creative like Facebook. Some don't care and use both.

    • Interesting analogies, Tyler. Thanks for the food for thought.

  • I have a twitter account but hardly use it and can't seem to find the real point for a while. But it seems more people want to have small and concise information rather than long rambles. Reviews of places etc all this can go twitter.

  • I started out on Twitter for my day job in the real estate industry. A few years back, when it was much smaller, I had much better conversations. Now I rarely login to that account because it's just a bunch of realtors back-patting each other, calling themselves internet marketing gurus/experts/thought-leaders or just incessantly retweeting each other. There are a few people on that account I have SMS alerts setup for that I do engage with from time to time.

    Now I'm spending more time in the SCUBA industry and was hoping that it may be better since it's a smaller, newer-to-Twitter group, but am unpleasantly surprised to see that it's full of via-
    API's, via-Twitterfeed's and otherwise autotweets. Again, only a very small handful of people in that industry are actually engaging instead of just marketing.

    I want to use it as a conversation platform, but the majority of people I've connected with across two opposite industries just want to use it for marketing.

    (What's up with everyone caring so much about how many followers they have, how many lists they're on and how many tweets they have? It just shows that it's a numbers game for those people, not a communications tool)

    • Great feedback, Nick. I guess you have to search hard to find the
      right people to chat with on Twitter depending upon your vertical. You
      can always find the folks outside your vertical that might add to your
      experience, though. I chat with people from a variety of industries.
      They probably follow me because I talk about marketing a lot and
      they're trying to glean some knowledge. I get that back in spades by
      paying attention to them, too.

      Thanks for the perspective. Here's wishing you luck finding more folks
      to chat about SCUBA with.

  • It tells me I want to be friends with Andrew Keene!

    • Heh. He's actually the son of one of my favorite all-time teachers.
      Smart kid, too. Obviously.

  • alejandrorecio

    Sometimes it seems that each social networks commands a different personality or persona. We have to admit that just like in real life we have different ways of being with different groups of people. In facebook, we are in good company that will understand what we say. Tweeter seems more like a party were you mingle and try to network by making funny or smart comments, so its clear why not a lot of people would want to fusion those two worlds.

  • Excellent Jason! Using the same words to run my own question on both Facebook and LinkedIn. Will share back Amigo!

  • Personally, I would rather not tweet(for myself), but I feel obligated to because of my social media job. Most of the people who follow me I have never met therefor have nothing to really say to them. I feel some people tweet WAY too much and it is a little annoying. I love Facebook, however. I get so much more interaction from my friends on Facebook than I ever do on twitter. I realize there is probably a direct relationship between how much time you put into Twitter as to how much you get out of it. I just haven't put that effort in. I tweet for my job and find that fun and a lot more successful than my personal Twitter.

  • I don't link my tweets to Facebook, either. Or LinkedIn. They're all serve different people and purposes, and I tend to each audience differently. Granted, there are overlaps of connections on all the social networks I participate. But, for me to assume all these networks care or want to know exactly the same things from me would be arrogant.

    Twitter can definitely be a bubble, and conversations on Twitter happen much faster than on Facebook. If I were helping a business set up its presence on Facebook and Twitter, I would definitely suggest different strategies on each. The same applies to personal profiles, IMO.

  • cherylharrison

    THANK YOU. This and the news that Facebook is going to be launching profile to Twitter pushes this week (shudder) put me in a bloggin' mood this morning, thanks :)

    • You're welcome. Interested to read your thoughts.

  • Hi Jason,

    For now, I think of Facebook as personal and Twitter as more professional. To me, Twitter is a learning network where I share what I think is interesting content related to work (B2B marketing) and follow those with similar interests, who provide me with fantastic content in return–much better than I can get through RSS or e-mail. I think the viral relationship model of Twitter in which I can form a low-level relationship with someone just based on a shared interest in content and learning is a great new way to start to build relationships. I can do that at a speed and scale never before imagined because Twitter is not permission based like Facebook or LinkedIn, which mirror how we form relationships in real life–i.e., I prefer to know you and have some direct experience with you before I'm willing to form a relationship (I talk more about this on my blog).

    Now, I know that the relationships on Twitter are shallow and can feel like shouting from a mountaintop, as someone put it. But every once in awhile, someone shouts back. In fact, I have formed a few business relationships as a result of these echoes off the mountain.

    Meanwhile, Facebook is relaxing. It's a place where I can check in on people I know well and some current and former work colleagues and just do the hey, how ya doin' thing. It's not much work, and I don't say much. It's just good to see the faces. Meanwhile, Twitter is constantly changing and fast moving. I think it exhausts people. That's probably where the anti-Twitter sentiment is coming from. If you don't have a reason to be there to learn, it seems overwhelming.

    • Great perspectives, Chris. Thanks for that. I certainly see your spot
      here. My challenge with my clients, though, is to take into account
      those outside the social media bubble. We are in it, so we see the
      tools differently than, say, my brother (25, father of one, blue
      collar, uses Facebook to keep up with high school friends and promote
      his hobby — Christian rap) who doesn't see “marketing” but a place to
      talk to folks. Twitter makes little sense to him because of that lack
      of permission-based connectivity. When we're working on ideas for the
      rest of the world, I think we have to challenge ourselves to see the
      world in their eyes, not ours.

      But I love your input here. Thanks for sharing. I see how you see
      Twitter differently now. Helpful.

  • Wow. I think that's the first time I've ever heard anyone say Twitter
    is for marketing. I would say it's for conversations and is almost the
    antithesis of marketing. Sure, marketing can and does happen there,
    but I'm on Twitter a lot and just talk to folks .. pure socializing,
    as you indicate for Facebook.

    Wonder if you don't mind explaining that a bit. I see it as the
    opposite – Facebook is more conducive to marketing where as Twitter is
    more a pure socializing place.

    Granted – I'm not saying you're wrong. It's all about perspective.
    Just interesting to hear that one. Thanks!

  • I think there is a misconception about Twitter. It is a social network for marketing, not pure socializing in the FB mentality. I believe if people who are anti-Twitter changed the Twitter question from “What are you doing?” to “What do you find interesting?” perceptions might change also.

    • Wow. I think that's the first time I've ever heard anyone say Twitter
      is for marketing. I would say it's for conversations and is almost the
      antithesis of marketing. Sure, marketing can and does happen there,
      but I'm on Twitter a lot and just talk to folks .. pure socializing,
      as you indicate for Facebook.

      Wonder if you don't mind explaining that a bit. I see it as the
      opposite – Facebook is more conducive to marketing where as Twitter is
      more a pure socializing place.

      Granted – I'm not saying you're wrong. It's all about perspective.
      Just interesting to hear that one. Thanks!

    • helendriscoll

      I agree with Trip. When I came across Twitter years ago, it was used as a status update by Vanessa Fox, and I just didn't find it that compelling. Once I understood that Twitter is “What do you find interesting” I became deeply engaged. Now, I have 2 Twitter accounts, one for my personal interests and a business account.
      To me: Facebook = small talk
      Twitter = intellectual exploration
      I don't like Facebook that much, and use email for truly personal conversations.

      • Thanks for the additional thoughts, Helen. Good to see the different

  • mirandamckennitt

    I joined Twitter long ago but only recently started to use it more (and it's plethora of clones through API). At first I simply didn't know what it can be used for, I joined (made an account) out of shear territory fight syndrome – I just made sure nobody was using my name there :-). Then I discovered the world of Twitter applications and my journey with Twitter has begun – contrary to Facebook apps, these actually expand the core functionality of the service. I wonder, maybe those Facebook friends of yours simply never managed to stumble upon any of those Twitter apps.

    • Great points, Miranda. I do think if your experience with Twitter is
      web-based and stationary, you lose a lot of what's there. But you also
      need that core reason to use it before even the apps become useful.
      Still, I agree that a lot of them could probably use some hand holding
      to figure out the benefits. Still, if they're happy without it, so be
      it. I just think social media thinkers, strategists, etc., need to
      keep that in mind. Thanks for the thoughts!

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  • secretsushi

    I subtly slipped lurked in that conversation by clicking “like”. It is interesting to see the reaction from those not in the social media space. Some of the feedback you received seemed to express that Facebook is “enough” for them. Others seemed to not stick around long enough to understand it or extract any value from it.

    What many of us appreciate most about Twitter is its simplicity, but I believe for some people that simplicity gets overshadowed by the sheer volume of information flowing through “the pipes”. Give someone a little more context and fewer connections to deal with and that is more appealing for some folks.

    I still love me some Twitter though!

    • Good thoughts, Adam. I agree that Twitter adoption is easier for folks
      with a critical mass of friends there. Once you find the use case, you
      get hooked. But the limitations compared to Facebook may prevent a lot
      of people from using it. Thanks for chiming in.


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