Businesses of all kinds are jumping onto social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter these days. Even funeral homes! (Not really sure what they would be posting about – don’t think I want to know.) It makes sense though because social sites are where we spend a lot of our online time these days.
If you’re a business, you need to think of your marketing goals and objectives first before choosing a platform. Some may be better for your organizations needs than others regardless of how many potential consumers are found on them. This is because they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Regarding Facebook and Twitter specifically, you’ll see that many of Facebook’s advantages are Twitter’s disadvantages and vice versa.
Facebook’s Advantages and Twitters Disadvantages
There are 4 main advantages to using Facebook for marketing. First, Facebook’s sheer number of users. Facebook has 901 million monthly active users where Twitter only has 140 million monthly active users (“active” being the key word here). Facebook can obviously give a company access to more potential customers. Also, the more people a company can access through a sharing system like Facebook, the more potential word-of-mouth about the brand.
Second, Facebook is now the most popular social networking site in the world. Based on an annual study of 136 countries regarding social network usage, Facebook is the dominant social network in 127 of them. Facebook’s 901 million active users aren’t solely in the U.S. and a few other countries; they are in 127 different countries! This may not matter for many small to medium sized businesses who may only work locally but for those international companies, Facebook can be a one stop shop for reaching all their markets. Twitter doesn’t have the international reach that Facebook does.
Third, the frequency with which Facebook’s user’s login. Forty-one percent of Facebook users log in daily where only 27% of Twitter users do. The more often a user logs in, the more potential they have to be exposed to your brands message. The more often they’re exposed to your brands message, the more likely they are to take action on it (buy, donate, volunteer etc.)
The fourth main advantage of Facebook for marketing and Twitter’s fourth disadvantage is based in Facebook’s unrivaled ability to increase interactivity with consumers. Both Facebook and Twitter offer the ability to include videos and photos in ones posts but Facebook also offers quizzes, polls, games and other means of interactivity. Interactivity increases the time that a user spends with a brand and their brand message. Many of these tools can also be very sharable which can make them viral and push the brand message further than the brand could by itself.
Twitter’s Advantages and Facebook’s Disadvantages
There are also 4 main advantages to using Twitter for marketing. First, Twitter followers are more likely to buy from the brands they follow. Sixty-seven percent of Twitter followers will buy from the brands they follow where only 51% of Facebook fans will. Isn’t this one of the main reason a company would use social networks? – To have people buy their offerings? Twitter gets things sold it seems.
Second, Twitter followers are more willing to recommend the brands they follow. Thirty-three percent of Twitter followers regularly recommend the brands they follow to friends where only 21% of Facebook fans do. There’s nothing better for a brand than having perpetual access to a large group of active brand advocates who actually sought your brand out (more on this next).
Third, Twitter is more of a “pull” medium where a brands followers are the ones that are likely to seek them out and initiate a conversation. Brands on Facebook on the other hand usually have to use “push” marketing tactics where they make third-party offers to obtain fans. An example of this is when Bing employed Zynga to offer “Farm Cash” rewards to “FarmVille” fans to entice them to become Bing’s fans. Pull is always better than push as pull means the consumer sought your company or brand out on their own. This means they’re already interested. Push marketing requires the brand to “push” an offer or ad in front of the consumer to get them interested. This can degrade the value of that base, since the offer is disconnected from the brand.
The fourth main advantage of Twitter for marketing and Facebook’s fourth disadvantage is that tweets get more clicks. Tweets with embedded links get 19 clicks on average while Facebook’s shared links only get 3 clicks on average. Clicking is interactivity; clicking can lead to viral sharing; clicking can lead to sales.
There are many ways that Facebook and Twitter can infringe on one’s privacy. Here are 2 main ones. First, a branded message can be imposed on you unwillingly. On Facebook, not only are we forced to see ads in the sidebar but at times, a friend who may be a fan of a brand will respond to one of the brands posts which will then be shown on your wall. The same happens on Twitter.
Second, games, quizzes external widgets and other websites that allow you to sign into their site with your Facebook account, though they may notify you of the information they will be seeing, sharing and storing, they are forcing you to choose between privacy and using these entertaining and handy features. The word “choose” is key. We “choose” to give up our privacy but it’s the fact that we must give it up to use these features that makes privacy an issue.
Though Twitter doesn’t have games and quizzes, they still give access to their users private information if the user wants to use the tools mentioned above like Facebook does. Facebook offers some privacy controls that may deal with this but many users don’t enable them or they’re hard to find or the wording is skewed so they don’t understand how the control works.
Social networks are gaining users by the minute, so the pressure to use one is mounting. Although, depending on your business, you may not need to use one. If you choose to do so, be sure to choose the right one for your needs.
- Rethinking Social Networking (bigthink.com)
- How to use social networking to help your business (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- 13 million U.S. Facebook users not using privacy controls (whptv.com)