Facebook or Twitter? What’s the difference?

 If you’re anything like me, friends and family sometimes ask you “What’s the difference between Facebook and Twitter?” (Some may also ask you, “Have you put on weight?” but that’s another story).

If you’re a social media fan, this might appear to be a ridiculous question that you wouldn’t waste time on. But to the Facebook masses who haven’t tried Twitter, it’s a matter of interest and consternation. They hear about Twitter all the time in the media – some of them have given it a try. Yet they remain confused, because Twitter doesn’t work like Facebook and they’re searching for reasons why they should use it.

There’s a few headline answers I give to this question:

• Facebook is where you mingle with friends you already know – Twitter is where you talk to strangers and make new friends
• Facebook is for sharing old stories and photos – Twitter is for sharing what’s happening now ( I see plenty of breaking news, traffic and weather updates on Twitter, but people rarely bother to share this on Facebook)
• On Facebook, a person has to accept you as a friend before you can keep up with their news – on Twitter, you can follow who you like, even celebrities (apart from the rare blocked accounts of course)

Clearly, these aren’t hard and fast rules, they’re generalisations of what typically takes place on Facebook and Twitter. #sodontwriteme

There are many more key differences, which are perhaps too complicated to share with newbies, including:

• On Facebook, if you’re pissed off with something, you start a group. For example a group called “I hate it when toilet rolls are hanging the wrong way”. On Twitter, you start a hashtag, #hateitwhentoiletrollshangwrongway
• Facebook houses games, applications and quizzes – so you can spend a lot of time there without actually communicating with your friends at all (besides recruiting them to your crazy farm/pirate/mafia/vampire game or forwarding them the Are You A Psycho Quiz). Although many tweets contain links that send you elsewhere for news and fun, Twitter is very much based on conversations with your connections and you’re driven to a dialogue more so than on Facebook
• Facebook has less surprises. (You might be surprised by a Friend request that comes from someone you haven’t seen since your braces were removed – but rarely are you surprised ‘mid conversation’ by someone joining in, offering their two bobs worth.)
• Facebook is like a directory, where a business has a page and you can find out what they offer. On Twitter, you’ve thrown away the directory and prefer to ask your friends. For example, you tweet “Does anyone know a good mechanic in Magill?” or “I want to impress visitors: what are your restaurant recommendations, #Adelaide?”

Don't ask me where the mechanic is: tweet it!
Don't ask me where the mechanic is: tweet it!

I like this blog post on the topic: Twitter versus Facebook: should you choose one?

What do you tell people who ask about the difference between Facebook and Twitter?

7 thoughts on “Facebook or Twitter? What’s the difference?

  1. Great post!! I couldn’t agree more, I hadn’t thought of it quite that clearly though.

    I have two completely separate groups of friends, twitter and facebook. The facebook people don’t want to see my Twitter posts. A couple of times I put posts on both and got flooded with “why are you telling us about the traffic???” complaints!

    On facebook I haven’t managed any real conversation yet, and I have no idea how you find new lovely people to connect with, and that has been EASY on twitter.

    I adore twitter and I am really struggling getting into facebook.

    I must say, I do like the ability to rave longer than 140 characters on facebook. :p

  2. Twitter is like listening to lots of different radio stations at once. The best part is being able to press a button and insert your own little comment into the discussion you want to.

  3. Hit the nail on the head so succinctly and exactly. You’ve put into words many of the niggling little thoughts over the last few months about how seemingly-pointless FB can be at times. Yet, as you say, Twitter enabled me to chat with everyone in real time. How times have changed!

  4. twitter is like the town square, facebook the local bar and your blog is like your home, the key difference for me is that with twitter there is no such thing as over sharing, anything goes, whereas with facebook you have to be a bit more selective about what you share, what i’ve learnt from facebook is that real life friends are a lot more passive, i know that they read my status updates because they mention it when i see them but they will rarely like or reply to what i’ve said

  5. Facebook is to share with your family and friends in a more private space. Twitter is to show off and share news and how good you think you are with the world in an open space.

    Marketing, PR and so called bloggers and social media experts love Twitter for that reason. Because they can put their message out to the open hoping for thousands of people to read their messages.

    I don’t mind either, plus I don’t only use these two social networks.

    1. Thanks for reading my blog, Paul, and thanks for the comment.

      Sure, a lot of comms professionals love Twitter, but they shouldn’t rely on it to spread the message to “thousands of people” because quite often their follower list isn’t that large, and as always, not all messages are seen and read (or appreciated!) Twitter is another long-term relationship tool. It’s also a news and events feed, but marketing and PR bods need to know it’s not for broadcasting (one-way) to the masses. 🙂

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