Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers


Mike Hirshland today has a blog post, "Friends or Followers", which describes the frequent conversation / debate around Facebook and Twitter:

In the course of our meeting [at Facebook] the Twitter question came up, and we divulged our bipolar personal usage patterns: Ryan is a total Facebook bigot and never uses Twitter, while I am an avid Twitter user, though I have been spending increasingly more time on Facebook. We spent a bunch of time discussing why this was so. For me the answer is simple: with the exception of a couple dozen folks who I follow because we are friends, for the most part I follow people on Twitter expressly because they have interesting updates and/or link to interesting content. As such, Twitter has entirely replaced my usage of Google Reader.

While the highest level discussion is whether you find yourself using Twitter or Facebook more often (there are few people who split time evenly between), there are several contributing factors that lead you into either Twitter or Facebook:

- What is your motive? for instance, brands, thinkers and socialites have totally different wants and experiences on each.

- What is your 'experience' on each? I would argue that Twitter is kinder to new users because of the one-way relationship; whereas Facebook can be a lonely place if your newsfeed is not vibrant. For more 'experienced' users, I would argue that Facebook is less noisy, easier to navigate and therefore more efficient from a consumption standpoint.

- Who are you following? This is Mike's point exactly: his feed is a mixture of peers, colleagues and friends... some of which are not "friends" (by the original Facebook definition). Again, Twitter's one-way relationship format allows for a mixture of personal and impersonal followings. That is more difficult on Facebook - though it is changing as user habits change (more public, network driven) and as Facebook enables the change.

Ultimately, as Mike puts it, I am "a total Facebook bigot and never uses Twitter" because: - my network is there (for the most part) - the network is generally easier to mange (I can 'handle' 1,250 friends but only 300 followings) - the experience is cleaner - the content from my feed is generally of higher quality - the conversations (comments, likes, emails) are as rich as the content... following a thread is easy and important - it is within a larger platform that provides other key values: email (I get a ton of email through Facebook), photos, search, etc

Not to say I do not think Twitter is important or powerful (it certainly is) ... just to say that, while Mike live on Twitter, I live on Facebook.