The clash of the social networking titans.
Here are my thoughts on the differences between Twitter and Facebook, what’s good or bad, and which to use in different situations with different goals in mind.
Less is more?
A 140 character tweet is pretty eye-catching. Even people with the shortest attention spans ever, would probably be able to read through a tweet. Let’s face it- after a long day, the last thing anyone wants to do is to scroll through thirty seven similar photos with captions that resemble a three hundred word essay. Facebook can be a real pain sometimes- which is why there is Twitter.
Twitter users are forced to leave off the non-essential blabber and stick to the pure, powerful essence of whatever it is they’re feeling or doing. Each tweet is a work of art; a van gogh painting, a piece of Bach, a Hemingway short story- beautifully constructed masterpieces when done right.
Of course, there are also times when less is simply too little. It can be quite annoying when you simply cannot say what you need or want to say in 140 characters, just like it is impossible to fit a pig through the eye of a needle (no matter how hard you try). Also, misunderstandings are way more likely to happen when you only have 140 characters to explain yourself. People are forced to leave out essential bits of information that may compromise the true integrity of the idea they are trying to convey. Plus, sometimes we just need to rant- and ranting is thoroughly impossible on twitter.
I’ve heard many of my friends proudly announcing that since they started a Facebook account, there is hardly a need for anything else. On Facebook, you can pretty much do everything. You can instant message, announce something to a group of people (regardless of the size), get people to do your surveys, read interesting articles, stalk people, pick a nice photo for a photo album/photo montage for a farewell, play online games… The list goes on. It’s really rather astounding what you can do on Facebook these days.
On twitter, however- well you can only do three things- fangirl/boy, stalk, and tweet.
New friends and old friends
As the phrase goes: “FB is for the people you used to know. Twitter is for the people you want to know better.”
Twitter works as a conversation between friends, acquaintances, and strangers. It also works as a sort of novel search engine that churns out topics and people and topics you’re probably interested in through the @search and #search. Unlike Facebook, it will not be awkward to strike up a conversation with an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, or business associate. You will not seem like a stalker or creep if you happened to follow someone you barely know.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a great tool for catching up with old friends and letting them know what you’ve been up to, or just interacting with your current group of best friends and family. It is also a very good way to stay connected with people from all walks of life. Facebook is the best thing that happened to people who have to fight off annual pangs of guilt during New Year’s Eve when “Auld Lang Syne” starts playing.
Style of communication
It really depends on what you like better. Facebook is more like a comfortable conversation over a cup of mocha with friends. You can talk for as long as you want. The conversation is easygoing and relaxed. No one in the cafe will be listening to your conversation (that’s just creepy) and you won’t make any new friends. But you have a good time nevertheless.
Twitter is vastly different. There are two types- the first is like a few minutes on a huge stage in front of a giant crowd. For that one glorious moment in time, you get the whole podium, and everyone is listening. You make a speech, get famous, stand out from the crowd…and, well, gain new followers. Literally. After a while, though, you have to get off the stage- your tweet slowly gets pushed to the back of news feeds. But you’re welcome to get back up on that stage, as many times a day as you want.
Some Twitter misconceptions
Since Twitter is a relatively newer social networking site for most people, I would like to clear up some misconceptions people might have regarding Twitter (I had quite a few of them myself).
1. Twitter is not restricted to conversations between almost-strangers. Twitter conversations can get just as intimate, familiar and centred on shared experiences and connections as Facebook conversations. You don’t have to talk to any strangers if you don’t want to. You can keep your account private- which means only your friends can see you’re tweets and you get to approve of your own friends. Some use their Twitter accounts mainly for talking to strangers and following their celebrities, but a large majority use their twitter accounts to keep up a steady stream of conversation with their friends, post funny comments about their activities with each other, tag each other in photos…etc.
2. You don’t get any spam on Twitter unless you’re dumb enough to follow spammers, and continue following them when you find out they’re spammers. If you follow a spammer, or a friend who tweets about something you have absolutely no interest about every minute or so, you can just unfollow the person.
3. Twitter is not difficult to use. In fact, it’s easier than following can-opening instructions. Here’s a little crash-course, if you need one.
Like everything else in life, Twitter and Facebook both have their strengths and weaknesses and it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. A lot of people like to pass judgement on whether Twitter or Facebook is a better social networking website but this is completely pointless because both have their own advantages and disadvantages. This doesn’t mean you have to like them equally, though, because each social networking site tends to appeal to different types of people with different objectives. It just means annoying hardcore facebook/twitter fans should stop trying to force their opinions on others. Geez.
Haha, now for the final revelation: I’m Team Twitter. I’ve been using Facebook for a pretty long time now, and I find it pretty sactisfactory although I have to say I’ve never really got very ‘into’ it. But I’ve recently created a twitter account, under duress from some of my close friends, and two words: Holy cow.
The concept of twitter to me is new, refreshing, radically different, and really intriguing. I love it.