This post is by Alison Campbell who runs the Social Media empire at Out There Media. If you’re not following her @outtheremedia Twitter stream, you’re missing out on her balance of outrageous enthusiasm and crazy ideas with solid numbers, results, and experience to back them up.
Several recent studies have highlighted the staggering amount of information that we take in each day. It came as no shock to me, as I have a habit of reading thousands of headlines each day in my RSS feed and hundreds of blog posts and articles. One headline I ran across was a shock to me, and I had an immediate, visceral reaction to it: ‘New Study Reveals Facebook Better Than Twitter for Marketers’. And that reaction was, “WRONG! That cannot possibly be true.”
I think of Facebook as a social nesting site, rather than social networking. On my personal profile, my friends are people I know and have interacted with in real life, unlike Twitter, where I feel much more compelled to follow and listen to people, professionals and brands that I may not have met in person (yet). Yes, I’m a little biased against Facebook, and have seen my fair share of marketers try and fail with half-baked Facebook campaigns that quickly became stale and useless. Personally, I don’t believe I’ve ever taken a second look after joining a fan page. On Twitter, I’ve seen some great responsiveness and actual interaction between brands and consumers, and I think that savvy marketers could do far better concentrating on the opportunities Twitter offers.
The link from the post took me to a study for sale on MarketingProfs.com. Although I could readily access a sample, it didn’t really address the headline’s claim, and I wasn’t willing to shell out the $599.00 to buy the report. So I had to refer back to the post, and the charts and information they pulled from the report to support the premise. Although the research methodology was explained, my gut was still telling me that the headline couldn’t possibly be the golden nugget mined from this study.
Although MySpace, LinkedIn and other sites were mentioned, this Facebook v. Twitter battle was what I wanted to get to. The facts highlighted to support that headline were:
1. The average minutes per visitor on Facebook in 2009 was 182.8 versus only 25.6 on Twitter.
2. About half of all marketers report that their employers or clients actively maintain a corporate Facebook account, while 42.8% reported their employers or clients maintain a Twitter site.
Of course people spend more time on Facebook. They’re looking at friends’ pictures of their new baby or trip to Mexico. Or perhaps stalking an ex. Don’t flatter your company by thinking that they’re reading every word on your fan page. Plus, Twitter’s format lends itself as more of a bridge to outside information-leading most consumers out to a company’s website, rather than duplicating relevant information within the Facebook format.
As for that second fact, about half means, “Eh, well, somewhere around 50%”, right? And 42.8% is somewhere around 50%, too, right? Heck, depending on the variance (not reported anywhere I saw), those numbers are very comparable.
And they brought this up, which seemed to discredit Facebook’s dominance, and the headline’s premise:
3. The report did not touch on the number of fans on corporate Facebook fan pages (why not?), but it did report on corporate Facebook accounts and the number of friends associated with them. Only 6% have been able to reach the 2,000 friends mark, with most falling well below that.
If the study showed that Facebook was better for marketers, wouldn’t fan pages need to be included?
Plus, in a survey of tactics, Twitter seemed to be pretty darn effective when you tried it:
–Monitoring Twitter for PR problems in real time? While only 50.8% actually tried it, 74.8% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
–Inviting Twitter users with positive brand tweets to do something? 33.2% tried it, 72.1% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
–Contacting Twitter users tweeting negatively about the brand? 22.4% tried it, 72.3% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
–Creating an in-person event using only Twitter invites? 13.5% tried it, 71.8% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
Those are the things that I love about Twitter, both as a marketer and as a consumer. What’s more valuable to a company that the real-time opinions of their consumer? Isn’t that the Holy Grail? As a marketer, are you more likely to be able to monitor and tweet daily or to update Facebook daily? (Study says: Twitter.) Plus, as a consumer, would you be more likely to express your brand thoughts on Twitter or on a Facebook page? It thrills me when Zappos.com asks if they can help me with an order when I tweet about them.
The bottom line is that the study, weighing in at a hefty 242 pages with over 190 charts, likely provides stats, numbers and factoids to support just about any social media viewpoint, depending on which you choose. There’s no one social media tactic or solution that beats the others hands down across the board because the customers, brands, companies, behaviors and goals are all different-we can even take the same stats and interpret them differently. Being social as a marketer can take many different forms, and following the herd is silly when there are solutions that would better suit your needs and meet your goals.
(Also, go Twitter!)