How Twitter Failed Me: Thoughts of a Facebook Convert

“I love Twitter.”

I smirked.  I’ve heard this so many times by 20-something year old girls I meet around campus.  These creatures, however, are the type who have visited the site once – to set up their account and link to phone.  They tweet rarely, and always about weird occurances in their day.  They follow close friends, and if they ever use an @reply, it’s to tell a friend (always a friend who has an account but has sent <5 updates) something they should have just texted – or link that they are having lunch with said person.

textually_active_ijustine

Nothing about that experience screams “I love Twitter!”  In fact, to me, it screams “I can’t stand this nuissance – I’ll text my friends instead!”.  But texting your friends doesn’t make your thoughts visible to the world.  That is, of course, the appeal of the micro blogging site.  Quick updates that appeal to our diminished attention spans and a platform that requires no logging in, no thought process, drafts or publishing issues.  Type up a text, hit send and you’re done.  Confused about the picture to your right?  Read on…there is a point.  If not, it’s always good practice to put pictures of hot girls in your posts – smaller bounce rate and longer page times.

The truth is, while NO ONE cares how your assistant principle was flirting with your mom while suspending you (or what “#WhereDeyDoDatAt” means), someone is reading.  Heck, I just linked you up on a blog – a blog that a few people actually read, no less.  All you link-sharing Twitter snobs think I’m stretching the truth?  Try protecting your tweets for a week.  I did, and the results were quite surprising.  Turns out, not as many friends were reading my stuff as I thought.

I shared 2 tech-related links – one on August 26th while my Twitter account was protected, and one September 10th while it was open.  The result?  A 300% increase in clicks when the account was open for all as opposed to it being protected to just approved followers.  Now, a lot of factors weigh heavily on statistics.  August 26th was a Thursday, September 10th a Friday.  Research shows that, while more updates are posted on Thursdays, more re-tweets are performed on Fridays.  You also have to consider the fact that more people may have been genuinely more interested in the September 10th tweet.  Regardless, a 300% increase is significant, and speaks volumes (especially when combined with similar data I gathered with the rest of my updates) about the visibility of unprotected accounts.

So what does all that mean?  Well, if you’re like me, it means you’re not as important as you thought.  It also means that your Twitter relevance is much lower than you probably guessed.  Try this out:  post a link, story or funny encounter on Twitter and Facebook.  Be sure to post it word for word at the same time of day.  Where do you receive the most (let alone relevant) feedback?  Chances are, 9 out of 10 times it’s going to be Facebook.  Even if you only receive a few likes, you at least know a few people who have watched and appreciated your video.  True, Twitter reply’s may be more in depth, but you’re not going to get near the amount of talk back that you do on Facebook.

Now, as this is a blog post, you should know that I’m just conjecturing on most of this.  I have a hypothesis (Facebook is more relevant, reliable and informative than Twitter) and I’m trying to persuade you.  Instead of taking the time to find solid arguments, I’m going to be lazy and give you my reasons.  Namely, Facebook makes stuff prettier and people spend more time on it.  Quickly (I’m imaging only 2 people make it this far in the post – if you’re one of them, leave a comment to prove my point), I’ll explain why I think this.

Facebook really does understand link sharing like no other.  That’s why things go viral on Big Blue.  Would Bon Qui Qui or the Bill Cosby Southern video be so popular without Facebook?  Not a chance.  As humans, we’re visual creatures.  Men included.  Really – you thought iJustine was famous for her tech thoughts? (checkout picture above if you’re not sure who I’m talking about).  When you share a link on Facebook, you get the option to include a photo or embed the video from the site – right onto your post.  Facebook single handedly turned the internet beeper (link SHARING), into an iPhone (link EMBEDDING).  Forget clicking off-site…you can watch the video with even scrolling down the page!  The result is a smorgasbord of funny videos and philosopher-wanna-be’s – not to mention all of the Facebook-specific posts (pictures, updates, relationship updates, etc).

(via The Oatmeal – click image for post)

As a result, people spend an unholy amount of time on the site.  Scrolling through my phone contacts (which are linked to Facebook profiles), I rarely come across an entry that does not have a Facebook.  My grandparents are on Facebook (and I’m beginning to think they are on more than I am).  Last year, my self-righteous history professor ripped the 100+ person class for not protecting our Facebook accounts.  Later that day, I looked him up and read all of his updates from the past 2 weeks.  Not interesting (he’s a jerk on Facebook, too), but still something that needed to be done.

My point is this: people love Facebook, and that bright red notification icon makes us feel good.  Twitter is great (heck, I wouldn’t have my current job if it weren’t for the site), but it doesn’t compare.  Short or long run.  To borrow geek speak, it fails hard in comparison – which is why, I believe, it’s on it’s way out.  In the past few months, it’s become nothing but a delayed instant messaging account and story teller.  I, Ryan Bowen, have become  a TwitterTween.  All hope is not lost, though.  I’m still clinging to the fact that I don’t know a single top 40 song.  Seriously.  I looked it up.

Enjoy the post? Encourage me by subscribing to the feed, following me on Twitter, and becoming a fan on Facebook. Cheers!