Social Media Face Off: Twitter vs. Facebook

This post first appeared on The Next Great Generation on May 9, 2011. 

On April 21, TVGuide.com declared Glee will begin using #hashtags on screen during their show.

In the comments, someone expressed a desire for Twitter to die. All I could think was, “Wow, you really don’t get it.” But then I got to thinking about how many of my friends make incessant fun of me for being a full-blown Twitter addict (hey – it’s not crack), and swear Facebook is the only way to go. I love my friends, but they also just don’t get it.

I’m going to help all you haters out by sharing my take on Facebook vs. Twitter. (FYI, this post will gloss over some details because I’d rather focus on the main ideas. Hear me out, and then you can bash me.)

1. Facebook: It’s really only good for your personal life.

Right now, Facebook is probably essential to your social life. I don’t care if you’re on It 25 hours a day or once a month, you can’t deny its convenience for sharing information, keeping in touch, and planning events.

If you’re like me, you keep your FB on tight lock-down, with only people you really trust given full access. It’s easier to keep a closed circle than censor your every status update, especially because there’s no way to control what awful picture your drunk friend may tag you in.

You’re probably not going to give a prospective employer, someone you just met, or a new industry contact full access to your profile. But these people are essential to growing your network and discovering new personal and professional opportunities, so Facebook just ain’t gonna cut it.

Enter Twitter. I witnessed this short exchange a few weeks ago:

Forget about the content and focus on the idea: it’s easier to mobilize people and build an involved community through Twitter than Facebook. Period.

2. Twitter: The tool that can enhance your personal AND professional life

Unless everyone you know is already on Twitter, starting out sucks. Accept that if you want to reap the benefits, you need to push through the pain.

Pain points include few to no followers, the intense speed at which information moves, and annoying spam. It takes time, but with a little bit of stamina, Twitter can become the most useful tech tool you’ve ever laid hands on.

If you’re in the marketing/advertising/technology/entertainment industry, Twitter is where all the information sharing and conversations are happening. You can expect potential employers to look for you on Twitter. Use that to your advantage by allowing it to act like your real-time resume.

When people view your profile, your stream offers an instant taste of who you are and what you’re currently talking about. This can tell prospective employers whether or not you’re a fit for their organization. It may sound a little scary, but it can be a huge opportunity for you to consistently show:

1) What you’re interested in,

2) That you know what’s going on in the industry,

3) Your unique voice and personality.

A single, well-crafted Tweet can accomplish a whole lot, and possibly influence the opportunities you get.  That Tweet could also get buried in the noise, never to be seen – but that’s your safety blanket. You’re given infinite chances to test the waters, make mistakes, and figure out how it all works.

Now think about the flow of information and news, and how you currently obtain it. Do you watch CNN? Read the New York Times online? Monitor favorite blogs via Google Reader?

Twitter can do all of that for you, but in real time. (Plus you can avoid the usage wall at nytimes.com).

A couple weeks ago, two photojournalists were killed in Libya. I knew about it hours before CNN declared anything because I follow journalists who are actually on the ground there. Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1. Where did the news break first? Twitter.

Were you effected by the AWS server #fail on April 21? When Hootsuite refused to load, multiple sources on Twitter.com told me what, why, and how in minutes – way faster than if I had Googled a question.

I know Twitter isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. But if you’re an info-junkie or cool-hunter, there is no substitute for the sheer access it provides to anything you’re interested in. Friends. Employers. Informants. Zach Braff.

In the end,

3. Just use both!

Facebook is for people you’d invite to your wedding. Twitter is for everything else.

One last picture from my dear friend Shona, who used to be a hater (She’s talking about studying Arabic).

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