Facebook,  twitter

Status wars revisited

Back in September I posted about the status wars between Twitter and Facebook. At the time you couldn’t get Twitter to update your FB status. A couple of people had cracked it but been told by FB to remove their code. I argued that FB don’t want Twitter to update the status because that is the key to stickability for them.

I was wrong in that Facebook does now allow Twitter to update status (I thought they wouldn’t allow it). But I was right in that this is a problem for Facebook stickability.  At least that’s my experience, and it’s interesting to reflect on the subtle difference between your Facebook status and Twitter stream.

I tried going Facebook status to Twitter first, but that meant I wasn’t really engaging in what I suppose I must call the Twitterverse. I think you don’t post regularly enough when you do this, you don’t read as many tweets, and you don’t use conventions such as @ for sending replies to users. And I think other Twitterers (Twits? Have we standardised vocabulary yet?), pick up on this.

So I decided that I would go the other way, Twitter to Facebook. This works fine technically – each status update begins ‘Martin is twittering:’. But again it’s a bit unsatisfactory. A lot of things I Twitter I wouldn’t usually put in my FB status. There is a subtle difference between the two. It’s not absolute, think of it as a Venn diagram – there is an awful lot of overlap, but there are areas that are unique to each.


In this diagram (courtesy of the marvellous Gliffy), the Twitter circle is bigger, since you tend to update that more. There is an area of overlap, the type of standard status posts you might do ‘In a conference call.’ Then there is the Facebook only area – for me these tend to be a bit more pithy, aimed at the friends I know in FB and cover a longer period, e.g. ‘Martin is working today and definitely not blogging, updating status or twittering.’ And then there is the Twitter only area. This will contain the replies e.g. ‘@mweller – stop twittering and get on with work’, the more frequent updates, e.g. ‘on a train, stuck in a tunnel’ and also those aimed at knowledge sharing ‘good post on twitter status here’.

For me then the Twitter only area is larger, so if I have to make a choice between losing one of the two (because I can’t be bothered to maintain them both separately), then the FB-only area goes.

The knock-on effect of this is that I use Facebook less, since one of the draws of going in was to update my status, and not to reject ‘Be a vampire’ notifications. Of course there is nothing about the FB status that means I couldn’t use it in the way I use Twitter (apart from the direct messages and replies), but it has to do with the very subtle communication affordances of the two. If I’m honest, I probably prefer the type of updates I do in Facebook, but I’m getting more value out of Twitter, so that’s the winner.

If my experience is true for others then the shine is off Facebook.


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