Sorry, trick question. It’s not an either/or proposition. You should be focused on both, of course. For as much as the two social networks are mentioned in the same breath, they are still two distinctly different experiences, two very different approaches to interaction and engagement.
Have you noticed any Twitter snobbery amongst your friends and colleagues? Lately, whether it’s due to ongoing privacy questions, the black eye it took during it’s IPO, or lingering doubts as to its ability to monetize, particularly on mobile, some of the social media elite have taken to touting Twitter with Apple-like loyalty and zeal, while at the same time taking shots at Facebook, some veiled, some not so veiled.
But this is not Apple vs. PC. If there is no either/or question, why go around trying to answer it? Two different platforms, used by both marketers and users in two different ways, two different strategies.
Facebook, as Opposed to Twitter:
Facebook is visual without any link clicking. Pinterest and plenty of research has taught us how powerful imagery is, and how it drives engagement. If you’re posting large images or video that can be rolled within users’ News Feeds, then you’re catching rapidly moving eyeballs and getting them to your headline, and maybe beyond.
Facebook is intimate. Your posts as a brand show up in the very same News Feed where users keep up with posts from their real world friends. They have afforded you marketers equal status, which is quite an honor that’s not to be abused or taken for granted. If you do, that will get you hidden or unliked.
Facebook is a bigger sandbox with more buckets and shovels. Posts can be a variety of types; text, photo, video, or poll. Tabs allow an even wider variety of functionalities, from games to sCommerce to contests and more, with more being developed every day.
Facebook is sticky. Users can, and do, spend a significant portion of their digital time with Facebook. You should not be surprised if many users leave it open in a browser tab continuously.
The Facebook experience is imminently customizable. Users craft their own cover photo, they curate their own Timeline, they hand-pick the friends and brands they want to hear from and categorize and prioritize them in groups, and they manage their News Feeds using hide, unsubscribe, and the various levels of updates they want to receive from each friend.
Twitter, as Opposed to Facebook:
Twitter is concise. Its 140-character limit (less when you subtract characters for links, tags, hashtags, and room for retweeting) holds tweets to a single, focused thought or item. This forces everyone to have a point and to get right to it.
Twitter is mobile. Despite its critics, so is Facebook. But a lot of Twitter’s initial DNA was tied to mobile and crafted with mobile in mind.
Twitter is imminently customizable. Okay, so that’s not a difference from Facebook. But the way it’s done is different. With Twitter, you can divide the people you follow into lists, follow hashtags, and save searches.
Depending on your target, and the product and service you’re marketing, one platform might make more sense than another. Facebook has come to be known as a place where the masses keep in touch with friends from high school, college or the old neighborhood. Twitter has come to be known as a place to follow thought leaders in your industry, or maybe your favorite public figures. Facebook is like a perpetual magazine of content. Twitter is like a newswire of headlines.
It is most likely your brand will need both sets of specialties and characteristics. Don’t let your attitude or your strategy drift toward either/or.