Facebook vs. Twitter

If you are like me, the thought of investing the time and energy into another networking site seems daunting. I am a loyal user of LinkedIn and enjoy the professional networking of this site, but everyday I seem to receive a new request to engage myself on Twitter or Facebook, hear another news item on the power of either of these mediums, and wonder if I am really missing something.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll spend some time discussing these platforms as I continue my own personal journey as to which one or whether to engage. I hope you find the discussion and articles helpful.

David Lammert

Facebook vs. Twitter: How will you stream your world?
Abridged: Cnet News, By: Caroline McCarthy

The future will be streamed.

Earlier this week, Facebook unveiled a few notable product revamps: “fan pages” for brands that look and act more like regular member profiles, and a redesigned home page that emphasizes a real-time version of the site’s iconic news feed. The keyword here is “streaming,” encouraging an even more extensive flow of information with a status update prompt that asks, “What’s on your mind?”

Needless to say, “What’s on your mind”–which also allows the posting of links, videos, and other content to news feeds–bears quite a bit of resemblance to Twitter’s “What are you doing?” prompt. So, especially in light of more rumors and reports about Facebook’s spurned attempt to acquire Twitter, expect comparisons between the two services as means of ultra-customized media consumption to escalate.

When Facebook unveiled its redesign I predicted that we’d hear a lot more about the news feed as the new personal portal. That’s sort of what many prolific Twitter users have turned the service into, too. Our Twitter feeds, after all, deliver a whole lot more than updates about what kind of beers our friends just ordered at happy hour: Depending on what you subscribe to, you can get ski reports, links to news headlines and blog feeds, mini-recipes, and celebrity stalking.

But for all the talk about brands building presences on Twitter, Facebook may have gained a slight lead here. I spoke on Thursday to Dan Hart, senior vice president and general manager of MTV Digital, about how the Viacom-owned entertainment brand is using the new Pages to push out more content to members’ news feeds. For the first time, brands using Fan Pages can set “status” messages, too, which MTV plans to use for news and updates.

“The status update function is effectively becoming a publish function, and that publish function is text, photos, video, a variety of media,” Hart said, “and that media is experienced more as a real-time stream by a Facebook user, and the Facebook user has more control over what occurs in that stream.”
That’s basically what media companies do with Twitter accounts. And Hart said that MTV has no plans to abandon its presence on Twitter. “I don’t think it’s a zero-sum choice at all,” he said. “We’ve done really interesting things on Twitter.”

But Facebook’s advantage is that the revamped news feed can handle different types of content, too: it’ll have actual photos and event listings instead of TwitPic and TinyURL links. Filtering controls won’t require a third-party app like TweetDeck. On the other hand, Twitter is obviously more open-ended. The messages on it are public and accessible, rather than hidden behind a log-in wall. As useful and innovative as the Facebook news feed may be, it’s not searchable–and Twitter clearly hopes that its search feature, which it built in with the acquisition of Summize last year, will be a sort of secret sauce. (Maybe it’ll even make money with it.)

Honestly, though, with the amount of buzz about both Facebook and Twitter as the future of real-time information, I give the advantage to whichever one can make all this content less of a mess.

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