Twitter vs. Facebook Status for social awareness
Posted by shannonclark on December 2, 2007
I am an early adopter of many technologies, being based in San Francisco and being a personal friend of many of the bloggers, investors, employees and fellow founders of “web 2.0” firms, I get invitations to try many different sites – and I adopt and use a small subset of these tools.
In the past year I have adopted three primary new pieces of web technology – though I have had the chance to play with probably literally 100’s of other sites and applications. In addition to the web technologies I have adopted I have also added a couple of other tools to my personal toolkit.
Two of these tools are Twitter, which I have used actively and avidly since SWSX earlier this year and Facebook which I adopted somewhat reluctantly a few months later this past spring (just after they opened it up to applications). For reference the other piece of web technology which I have added to my primary toolkit this year is Google Reader which finally displaced Bloglines as my primary RSS reader. The non-web (well not primarily web) technology I have adopted is the iPhone which replaced my Windows Mobile based cell phone (though I have been using the mobile web and mobile email access for 7+ years now).
There are a few other sites which I use, though not as avidly – Dopplr for awareness of some of my business contact’s travel plans, Plaxo for syncing my contacts (though increasingly Facebook is valuable to me as an updated addressbook), Kayak.com for pricing flights, Woot.com for the occasional online deal (and of course wordpress.com where this site is hosted).
But to get back to Twitter and Facebook.
I use Twitter a lot. I follow 93 different people (well mostly people, also woot.com) via twitter and 153 people follow me (if you want to follow me, my twitter account is rycaut). Since I joined twitter I have “tweeted” over 2100 times, far, far more tweets than blog posts I have written (though since my blog posts tend to be long, I think my blog still has a higher word count…)
On Facebook I don’t know the full stats, but I have something close to 200 friends (perhaps a few more) and I use Facebook on a daily basis.
I access both Twitter and Facebook primarily via my mobile phone – though I also keep a tab open to both sites on any computer I am actively using (I have both a desktop iMac and a laptop running Vista, on both I primarily use the latest non-beta version of Firefox). However while reading tweets and checking for facebook updates is something I do frequently while using my iPhone, it is something I do less often when in front of my computer.
I do not use a specialized twitter client (snitter or twitterific, though I have twitterific installed the version I have installed is an older one and I usually don’t keep it open).
What I noticed tonight, however, is that while my friends are fairly active in keeping their facebook status messages active and updated, I get a richer and deeper picture of what they are doing via twitter – and I think they get more from my use of Twitter than from my use of Facebook.
In large part this is because twitter is, as my friends use it, a mix of conversational tool AND ongoing stream of updates. However on Facebook my friend’s status messages are usually interspersed amongst a mix of other news feed items (and yes, I know about the dedicated means of viewing just friend’s status updates) but even there it is a single, short message – not a part of an ongoing conversation. Unlike on twitter, on Facebook there is not a rich, simple way to view someone’s status messages over time – and do so for all of your friends over time in the same view.
Twitter on the other hand is an ongoing conversation between my friends – some of whom are also talking with each other, many of whom only I (among my friends) follow. I twitter questions, notes about what I am doing, observations about the world around me and my life – and as happened frequently today I get back comments, suggestions, and feedback from friends across the planet.
I also get to see in real time when friends are all gathered together (they usually end up twittering about the same stuff – this weekend it was a bunch of friends in LA for the Winnies awards for videobloggers). I get to hear about the first snowfall of the season in NY, about storms in Portland, about news in nearly realtime as it is reported (tonight it was the announcement and blog posts about LiveJournal being sold by Six Apart).
Tonight as well I reconnected with a friend back in Chicago via twitter – I had followed his posts earlier today about the weather and working in Chicago, tonight he commented on my tweets about spending the weekend alone, and our friendship was in a very real way strengthened.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and use Facebook for many things – but twitter, for all of the apparent simplicity of the tool (I primarily use it via SMS messages) is by far the most impactful tool I have adopted this year in sheer terms of adding value and richness to my life nearly every single day.
So thanks Twitter – keep up the great work!