6 Reasons Facebook Is Not A Threat To Twitter

Today the interwebs are buzzing with the latest announcments from Facebook.  With today’s announcements Facebook is taking direct aim at Twitter. It has been reported, that last year Facebook tried to by Twitter for $500 million and Twitter declined. Twitter is really hot right now and many celebrities and businesses are using Twitter to reach their fans. With these two groups goes a lot of money and potential for being profitable. That is why today Facebook rolled out changes to its service to make it more real-time, like twitter and removing friend caps and private pages to make it more celebrity friendly.

With these changes by Facebook I have seen TONS of people commenting and tweeting that this is the end of Twitter and these changes will hurt Twitter badly. No they won’t.

Here are 6 reasons why:

  1. Facebook and Twitter are completely different types of networks. Facebook is a network where you know the people personally and care about connecting with them. Twitter is a network in which you don’t know the people but instead care what they have to say and get to know them through the information they share.
  2. Twitter is simple, Facebook is not so simple. It is not that Facebook is hard to use, because it is not, but compared to Twitter’s 140 characters; Facebook’s status updates, picture and video uploads, profile pages and the rest are much more complicated. Complicated isn’t bad, but it again means regardless of its changes Facebook can never be Twitter.
  3. Information is accessed and delivered differently.  Facebook is a web portable with mobile web applications that keep all of its many features intact, that is if you have a phone with a web browser. Facebook can alert you via e-mail when certain actions happen, but otherwise you need to be sign in to the desktop or mobile version to use the service.  Twitter instead can be accessed through web, desktop apps, SMS and third-party applications.   More importantly Twitter can deliver updates, replies and direct messages through SMS making it open to anyone with a cell phone and making it a much more mobile network.
  4. Twitter is Public, Facebook is Private. Facebook has always been a walled garden meaning that you had to be signed in to Facebook to see any part of Facebook. With Twitter profiles and messages are public unless your request that they be public. This means that in terms of data, search engine indexing and other open applications Twitter has a major advantage.
  5. Twitter has Twitter Search. Looking back on Twitter’s first few years as a company, one of the smartest things they did was to purchase Summize and make it Twitter Search allowing for real-time searching of information on Twitter. This has lead to endless possibilities for monitoring trends, events, and everything else. This information is very valuable and will be at the core of how Twitter will make money. Facebook can’t and does not have this.
  6. Twitter’s API beats Facebook’s applications. This final point gets back to the idea of the walled garden idea of Facebook. Twitter has a rich API that has lead to the development of thousands of applications that use Twitter. Many people use Twitter without ever going to the web interface. Instead to access Facebook applications you must be signed into Facebook. This type of closed approach to development limits the way people can use the applications and how the application developers can make money.

Facebook is a giant force in the social networking space and with 175 million users and counting will not have any problems with long-term growth and success. My point is that regardless of the changes Facebook makes, it won’t be Twitter. Twitter will have its own opportunities for growth and the two services should have no problem coexisting.

These changes aren’t the death of Twitter, rather they validate the power of Twitter.

5 Responses to “6 Reasons Facebook Is Not A Threat To Twitter”

  1. Another major difference between them is the role of applications, and this points to one of the biggest differences between them. Facebook applications, those within the the walled garden, allow users to interact with their friends, while Twitter applications allow users to interact with the information flow.

  2. On your point#1 Reading between the lines of FB’s announcement, it seems they are slowly going to integrate a change to the ‘friending’ sysytem. Steps include being able to exclude data streams from certain friends and not vice versa. That’s a start – still not a twitter killer.

  3. I must say I agree with a lot of what you said, people seem to think facebook is a threat all social networks at some point.

    I covered some of the same points in my own post about this http://blog.richardcunningham.co.uk/2009/03/facebook-pages-vs-twitter.html

  4. Kipp, I love this post. You are 100% accurate. I have almost gone exclusively twitter for two of the reasons that you mentioned above your #2 and #4.

    Plus with Twitter search it has gone to a whole new level. Being able to actually search live opinions about any given topic as they happen is the future. Thanks for the post!


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