July 1, 2008

Twitter vs. Facebook & Myspace

Filed under: Ideas, Information Supernova, Marketing Tactics — Robert John Ed @ 9:29 pm

I’ve been thinking about Twitter as a marketing tool. I’m still getting into Twitter in a way, but I can already see where the value lies. It’s the cloud of people that can provide help, information, exclamation, news, ideas and more in the blink of an eye.

At first, many marketers probably make the mistake of looking at Twitter as a marketing medium, not a tool. Same thing goes for other social networks. These new sites are not mediums or broadcasts.

Twitter isn’t something that you’d say “New Chevy Tahoe’s on the Lot!!!” and expect people to care about your dealership. Twitter is a place where people micro-blog the goings on of their days and write about notable happenings. As such, marketers can use this place (much like any other online forums) to meet and connect with users; more importantly, they can add value to their brand. Zappos has obviously made a lot of waves with this. But let’s dig a little deeper and look at some questions:

1. Could any company be able to help customers online through Twitter?

I believe so. The only hindrances are making sure that people have the right mind set and are conditioned to respond in a fashion conducive to the brand personality. In that way, maybe only certain people are in charge of direct interaction with consumers; but still everyone in your organization could easily be aware of any Tweets (or comments in other forums) and relay that information to the appropriate person.

Building a fan page on FB or MS is fine and dandy, but is there really any interaction there? Of all my experience on those sites, I must say that I’ve never had any real conversations or interaction with a company on those pages. Whereas on Twitter, the ability to ask a question, file a complaint, exclaim your praise or just say thanks to a company rep is a completely viable idea. And fast! The site is built around communication, whereas FB and MS are much more dense a user experience. For the users, that could be of great value; for the marketers, adding value doesn’t seem as simple. Sure, you’ve got a fan page for me to join, but what does it really get me? A coupon once a month…sure that’s worth while, but as a fan I’d much rather know that I can talk to a company personally and ask for something.

In my opinion, these things will all come into magnification in the upcoming years as these sites are forced to monetize their valuations. FB and MS will look for ways to offer marketers value and bottom line driven initiatives. Will they attempt to make their sites more utility based or more advertising based to do that? I think that they will try to build advertising models initially, but they’ll find that (as is already well documented) that these networks aren’t much for banners and click through rates. They’ll have to find another way to value, and I think that building CRM structure for these companies is probably a viable strategy in the long run.

2. Is it too time consuming for a marketing department?

No. I spend time on Twitter maybe 2 minutes for every hour. That is nothing in the course of the day. Just like reading blogs, IM, email or anything else, the user must no that there are limits to productivity and interact accordingly. In fact, I’d say that’s one of Twitters major advantages.

Twitter is blazingly fast comparatively speaking to Facebook and Myspace in terms of updating yourself on information. I’m not on the latter any more but I know that Facebook takes far more time to accomplish a quick update on friends. Tweets are supposed to be short and to the point. This leads me to believe that as a marketing tool, Twitter is ahead of those two in terms of utility (actionable situations). As a advertising medium, I think that FB and MS are ahead, they have the eyeballs and they are purposefully developing their sites in ways meant to monetize those eyeballs. The question stands as to which is more important? Can Twitter legitimately monetize itself? FB and MS haven’t done a great job with this so far, but the game is early.

3. What about infrastructure and availability?

FB and MS win hands down here. Twitter is always down. It’s so often that it really sets you back if you rely on it. The former sites are always up and running and despite a few security leaks and press issues as a result, they are on the up and up.

So the fail whale will have to go into retirement before any real steps can be taken. More thoughts on this to come, assuredly.



  1. Nice post. I think you are dead on. The only thing that I would add is that companies need to adopt a certain brand personality that embraces not only Twitter but Social Media as a means for connecting with clients. Without that personality and buy in from both employees and consumers, brands are dead in the water. Some companies, such as Zappos are much more incline and more able to adopt this personality. It also comes down to the question what is the opportunity cost for doing social media vs not doing social media.


    Comment by Mike Rynchek — July 2, 2008 @ 7:56 pm

  2. Mike,

    Brings up a good question…Do companies “adopt” or adapt brand personalities? Do they change them to be more conducive with new marketing initiatives? I think the answer is no. Changing a brand personality isn’t the goal; it’s administering current personality through new channels. Many of those companies and brands are suffering from trying to jump in with things such as this (social media etc.) without a plan.

    Not every company HAS to use Twitter, but every company COULD use Twitter. Do they want to? Another question altogether.

    Comment by Robert John Ed — July 2, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

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