Lately, I’ve had the “pleasure” of lying in bed (most of the time in traction) recovering from hip surgery. Given the liberal doses of Percocet and other pain meds, I’ve refrained from doing any work-related emails. But it’s boring as crap and I can only read so much (poor attention span due to drugs) and watch so many bad movies (Max Payne was one of the worst ever). I relegated myself to surfing around the Internet and getting caught up on all the cool stuff that I’m behind on.
One site that I’ve neglected the past 6 months has been Facebook. Besides playing Zynga games Poker and Mafia Wars, I had stopped updating my status, uploading pictures and maintaining my profile. Whereas, I used to be on FB a couple of times a day, I was now spending all of my social media time on Twitter. I figured that with my copious amount of free time, I’d rediscover my interest in FB and get sucked back in.
Surprisingly to me, it hasn’t happened. And it’s day 4 of trying. I’m not sure that I need FB anymore. What I perceived as the value before has clearly changed. And when I look at the value proposition then, versus now, I can’t imagine what FB would have to do to win my social media time away from Twitter.
Here is why Twitter is better than Facebook (in scorecard fashion):
1. Meeting and / or reconnecting with friends. I have 1,110+ friends on Facebook. I have about 1,700 on Twitter. But there are two factors that must be considered above quantity: quality of friend and velocity of friend acquisition.
Quality-wise, my networks are probably about equal with a mix of real friends, acquaintances and folks that are just network builders. I find this interesting, as on FB I have to allow folks to be my friends, but on Twitter people can essentially befriend me unilaterally. (I accept all FB friend requests, by the way). I’m very much overweighted with high school connections on FB and over weighted with business friends on Twitter. (This is a good thing, nothing against my high school friends).
Velocity, however is no match. While FB started strongly, I’ve only added about 200 friends in the past 3 months. I’m adding about 250 a month in Twitter. Just this week alone, I’ve added several dozen Twitter followers and only a couple new FB friends.
2. Relevant Information. This one isn’t even close. Besides knowing when a birthday occurs, the information stream inside Facebook sucks. It’s 90% noise. Yeah, I know that I can go and configure the info stream, but the interface stinks and it’s always changing. Twitter? Simple. I follow those who provide me interesting information and can always check out “@jasonmendelson.” If someone is creating too much noise, I can unfollow them with one button. Plus, for those in my life whose opinions I really trust, I can pay attention to who they are retweeting and pick up others to follow. For this reason, friend discovery is better on Twitter, as well.
3. Activity. So which network sees more activity from those that I care about? This one is mixed. It’s all over the map, so let’s punt on this analysis.
3. Fun. So life isn’t all work. Fun matters. Which one is more fun? I think FB still wins this one with the games, applications and photos that Twitter doesn’t have. Plus the persistence that exists with content is nice, as well. That being said, Twitter is catching up and some of the Facebook fun is moving off the FB platform. One of our recent investment, StockTwits shows that a great application can be built on top of the Twitter platform and game makers like Zynga have more and more standalone offerings (like Farmville).
Winner: Facebook (but, isn’t a guaranteed long-term advantage)
4. Efficiency. Putting aside all jokes about Twitter’s infrastructure aside, the cumbersome nature of FB, plus the ever-changing and poor UI make this one no contest. Plus, I think 140 characters is a better format for folks to connect up, instead of the three page dissertation from the girl from high school telling me about her high school crush on me. And don’t even get me started about FB email and chat – two more complete time sucks in my life that I see no benefit to.
Winner: Twitter (In a landslide, but please scale your infrastructure)
5. Privacy. Let’s see… On one hand we have a founder (Facebook) who believes privacy is dead and on the other hand we have a really simple platform that allows me control over what the public sees. Even more inscrutable is knowing what Facebook’s du jour policy on privacy really is.
6. Spam. I’ve had to defriend folks on Facebook due to spam (mostly politicians) and I’m sure we’ve all made a mistake or two where we’ve invited our entire address book to something that we weren’t aware that we were doing. With Twitter, I only follow those whom I enjoy, it’s easy to audition folks by following / unfollowing, where the “Remove Friend” button seems to change location often.
7. Ability to Network. connections / help: At one point, I thought that FB would replace Linked In. I was wrong, Twitter did. I sent out a tweet and almost instantaneously whatever I need is addressed. Instead of spamming folks on FB, I just send out a 140 character missive and folks decide whether or not they want to help or not. With FB, I’d have to create an email and send to everyone and annoy them as they would at least have to go delete the message or forever show new messages in their inbox (especially annoying on the iPhone client).
8. Sharing. I think FB still wins. Granted, if you want to share each and every part of your life, there is no substitute for posting pictures and letting everyone know which Sex in the City character you are most like. I think the novelty of this wore off on me a while ago and I prefer sharing information and content that I find find interesting and I find Twitter to be the perfect platform to do this. That being said, I may not be norm. And perhaps those that rank sharing as their top attribute for participating in a social network will always flock to FB, but I’m not sure how many people feel this way.
Final Score: Twitter: 5 Facebook: 2 Ties: 1
Now that Twitter has effectively taken over friend discovery, connection, networking and information for me, the only real use that FB has if for fun. And I’m finding more fun in the Twitter platform everyday. Given that I only have so many hours a day for social media, I’m allocating my hours to Twitter (and blogging, of course). I wonder if others are finding the same thing? Or is sharing the killer app?