After using Facebook and Twitter at high volume for a few months, I’m ready to say it: one has universal appeal, the other most decidedly does not. I like both, but I have to take a strong position against folks who think everyone should be on Twitter. Everyone should not be on Twitter. In fact, a lot of the people who are there might be better off if they were not.
Take #TCOT for example. The “Top Conservatives on Twitter” meme has exploded on the site, but its value is highly debatable. In some ways, the “hash-tagged” chats on Twitter are like the free-for-all chat rooms from the genesis of AOL, fun, but hardly useful. And Twitter even has the same built-in product killer as AOL, a high rate of anonymous handles that lead to low-brow behavior.
Twitter is great for building communities of interest. It’s great for mingling with like-minded people and for pushing your content. There’s lots to like. But, it’s not for everyone. It’s culture is a two-way communication channel, so it’s not a good tool for someone who only wants to push content. Don’t you hate it when you are trying to skip over a TV commercial to another channel (OK, didn’t you hate it before TiVo) but all the channels have commercials breaks running? That’s what it’s like when a newspaper, writer, or politician is simply using Twitter to tell you about what they’ve just published elsewhere. Twitter is about adding value, and for those who don’t have the time or energy to do that, Twitter is not the right tool.
Should every business be on Twitter? Should the papers and politicians be on Twitter? I guess that question is a bit easier, because anybody with something to sell can likely find at least a portion of its customers on Twitter. But that question of customers has to be asked; and businesses and politicians must do Twitter. It’s its own animal.
So why do I think Facebook is for everyone? Simple. It’s got more. It’s geared toward real people, it’s got a robust developer community, and it appeals to all kinds of users. It works for well for many types of users, all in the mix together. Simply, Twitter is a conversation, Facebook is a community.
More later. Your thoughts below.