What Social Media Platform Should You Use? Facebook vs. Twitter

You’re being told you should be on social media but which social media platform should you be on? In the last post, I talked about some of the most popular social media platforms and gave a high-level overview of each one. This includes the two platforms I am going to discuss today: Facebook and Twitter.

This isn’t a comparison of which one is better or worse, though many people certainly have a preference. I much prefer Twitter but I do spend time on Facebook too as this is where most of my friends are. While in school I was in the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). We found that most of the people we wanted to reach were on Facebook. We still had a Twitter account but Facebook was better at getting our message out. In the end, if you don’t remember anything else, remember this. Go where your audience is.

Now let’s look at these two platforms starting with Facebook.

Facebook

If you were going to pick only one social media platform to be on, chances are I would suggest Facebook. It is the biggest of the social media networks and therefore has the largest reach. Despite the negative news coverage, in regards to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook hasn’t seen a significant issue with people leaving the platform. This is because, for better or worse, it has become a part of billions of lives (2.2 billion to be exact).

Chances are good that even if your business isn’t on Facebook, you are, so I’m not going to go over its many features. I’m just going to look at it from a business angle. When I use the word business throughout this article I’m referring to both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

While individuals create a profile, businesses set up a page. You can enter information about your business such as an address, telephone number, website, type of business, company overview and products. There are tabs that will show photos and videos you’ve uploaded along with your posts.

When a person likes your page they also follow you although they can like your page and opt to not follow your posts. More on that in a minute. Your followers can comment on your posts and leave reviews which will show on the reviews tab. They can also share a post, comment on a post, or like a post.

Word of mouth is important and your customers can easily and recommend your page by clicking the “Recommend” button thus allowing them to share with their friends. And, they can always send you direct messages as well. There will be information on your page how responsive you are to messages.

Having a page has recently become more of a challenge as Facebook has changed its algorithm to prioritize friends over pages. Many pages that I follow as an individual have disappeared from my news feed. This is an obstacle that can be overcome. Somebody who likes your page can opt to have it show first in his/her news feed. Of course, this is something that is out of your control but creating great content can convince somebody that your page is not to be missed. It certainly doesn’t hurt to remind people now and then that they can see your page by prioritizing it in their feed.

Facebook has made a push into video to compete with YouTube, specifically in terms of live video feeds. My nephew was in band this past school year and it live-streamed video of many of the performances. The live video is then archived into the video section on your page for future viewing.

Facebook is free to individuals and businesses alike. It makes money by selling ads. This is the hidden value of the platform for businesses. Facebook, along with its rival Google, dominates the digital ad world. Because of the information that users share on the platform, you are able to run ads that hyper-target the audience you want to reach. Let’s say you want to target people who like guitars within 5 miles of the zip code 84088. You can specify this when you set up your ad and it will reach customers that meet those criteria. I don’t think I need to explain to you the kind of advertising power that this provides.

Facebook is a powerful platform but it all comes down to you. How you differentiate your business and the kind of content that you create is going to determine the impact it has.

Now let’s look at a Facebook competitor, Twitter.

Twitter

With its 330 million users, Twitter is far behind Facebook but users of this platform are active. There are 500 million tweets sent on Twitter every day. This adds up to 200 billion per year. Not surprisingly, Twitter is known as the place where news breaks and people respond.

What makes Twitter unique is that it limits the number of characters one can use when he or she posts. For years a tweet was limited to 140 characters. This included any URLs that you put in the tweet (as well as spaces). Twitter recently changed this to 280 characters, although there are still several countries that are constrained to 140. On this platform, you need to be to the point. There is a certain creativity that is required to do this in a way that engages people.

Twitter has a timeline which functions like the Facebook news feed. Media such as pictures and video can be shared as well as URLs to content. People can reply, like, and share tweets.

The practice of using hashtags on social media originated on Twitter. Hashtags can be included in posts to indicate a topic and users can search by keywords to find topics. For instance, if I was posting in regards to the Ford Mustang I could tag it: #fordmustang. A search for this term would bring up everything using this tag.

Many businesses provide customer service via Twitter and Twitter chats around specific topics identified with hashtags are popular. Like Facebook, Twitter generates revenue from ads and those ads can use specific information to hyper-target your desired audience.  Twitter brings users live video via its Periscope app in order to better compete with Facebook.

The Bottom Line

Facebook has a huge advantage over Twitter because of its larger user base. It has nearly 2 billion more users than Twitter. People are just more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter. I have many relatives who are on Facebook but I’m the only one on Twitter. Many of my friends are on Facebook but very few are on Twitter. On the flip side, most of the professional relationships I enjoy came to me via Twitter, not Facebook.

While I personally like Twitter more than Facebook, the latter definitely has advantages from a marketing perspective. 95.8% of social media managers surveyed responded saying  Facebook gave them the best return on investment (ROI). 63.5% gave the nod to Twitter (for more context click here). While 32 points behind, Twitter did come in second beating out other social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

If you were going to pick between these two platforms I would suggest Facebook. However, Twitter is certainly an option worth considering.

Join me next time when I look at Instagram and Snapchat.

Shane Carpenter
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