Is Twitter Becoming the Real Facebook Alternative?

Twitter Aggressively Expands Strategy, Should Facebook Be Worried?

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Is Twitter Becoming the Real Facebook Alternative?
[ Social Media]

Let me preface this by saying that in the end, this is not just about Facebook and Twitter. Both companies provide services and features that overlap with plenty of other players out there – companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and others. We tend to think about Facebook and Twitter, however, as the frontrunners when it comes to social networking.

Can Twitter give Facebook a run for its money? Tell us what you think.

It would appear that Twitter is getting more serious about competing with Facebook. Obviously there has been a lot of overlap between the two social networks (though neither actually likes to be called “social network”), but Twitter is getting a lot more aggressive in its strategy.

Facebook has certainly become a lot more Twitter-like over the years, particularly with its news feed feature, but Twitter has done little to become more Facebook-like. However, this week alone, Twitter has launched the new “follow” button which can already be seen right alongside the Facebook “like” button on many sites. It has also announced a new photo upload feature and search revamp to make results more relevant – both things Facebook offers.

There are way more people using Facebook than Twitter, but Twitter use is growing. A new report from Pew Internet finds that 13% of adult Internet users have used Twitter (up from 8% in November 2010), and that Twitter use is spreading to a wider range of ages. Those between the ages of 25 and 44 have experienced notable adoption growth since late 2010, though the younger the generation, it appears, the greater the adoption.

Who Uses Twitter?

Facebook and Twitter both serve as online IDs, providing log-in integration on numerous web properties, and ID is really what it’s all about. Google wants to be the ID too, and former CEO Eric Schmidt has been talking about the company’s shortcomings in this department this week.

Watch to see how the online ID and mobile payments elements of our lives merge in the future (an area where Google is making bold moves with Google Wallet). This is another potential area where Facebook and Twitter could clash down the line (again, putting aside the rest of the players for a minute). Facebook already has its Facebook Credits. But Twitter for payments? Well, there’s already TwitPay (which Eric Schmidt has reportedly invested in). And let’s not forget that the recently returned co-founder Jack Dorsey does also run Square (which recently unveiled a very interesting way of paying with its card case). Things are moving much quicker and more aggressively at Twitter since his return. They’ve already got the ID part. It doesn’t sound out of the realm of possibility for Twitter to get into payments does it?

Facebook wants to be considered more of a journalist tool and resource for news in general. It certainly can be both, but the mainstream news media is sure all over Twitter (and Twitter is all over the mainstream media). Twitter, and its more public nature simply seems to attract more of the breaking news – not only from actual journalists, but from citizens. This is nothing new, but it’s one area where Twitter has an edge over Facebook.

Twitter is also making more moves in the monetization area. In fact, just this week, the company acquired two thirds of the AdGrok team to add to its revenue engineering team. Ironically, the other third went to Facebook.

Twitter recently increased its email notifications to keep users coming back – a subtle, but potentially big factor in retaining users. The acquisition of TweetDeck can’t hurt either. We’ve yet to see the results of the purchase, but such an interface as part of Twitter’s own platform may help those still struggling to see the benefits of Twitter to find new use cases.

Twitter has historically let third-parties bring the best functionalities to the service, but clearly Twitter now wants to be more involved with that first-hand (while continuing to let third-parties innovate too). That can’t be a bad thing for Twitter itself. It makes things more unified. It means people don’t have to be “in the know” of certain apps to enjoy significant features. Sure, Facebook has plenty of third-party apps, but its interface is already much more feature-rich and generally constant, when compared to the ways people use Twitter. Twitter looks to be narrowing the gap in that department, and I’m guessing we’ve only just seen the beginning.

A lot of Twitter users don’t share photos on Twitter, simply because they don’t use apps that do this. Having the feature right in the Twitter interface will likely get more people posting photos. The APIs that come along with this, will also presumably get them sharing photos from other apps that they are using.

Twitter already has the benefit of heavy celebrity use, which will continue to work in its favor in terms of growth and driving consumer interest (though this is not exactly lacking on Facebook). It also has the benefit of excessive use in Google’s search results.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter’s servers hold up as it continues to grow. Excessive fail whales could cause some friction.

Do you think Twitter has the potential to take on Facebook in the social media realm? Comment here.

Is Twitter Becoming the Real Facebook Alternative?
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  • ferricoxide

    The problem I find with both services is that they are both “fire and forget” mediums. They’re designed for you to say what’s on your mind, now, and have it essentially disappear into the ether. Neither site has a useful mechanism for finding and reviewing old posts. Where site like BlogSpot and LiveJournal are the equivalents of online, semi-public diaries, FaceBook and Twitter are both the online equivalent of “small talk” – meant to be seen/heard but not really remembered in any meaningful way. It sucks that either of these two tools are considered “front-runners”

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      I think Facebook’s notes feature is comparable to a blogging service, in terms of content that can easily be found again, though only from within the Facebook network, as opposed to a more open platform like Blogger.

  • http://www.whycommunicate.co.uk Garry Davis

    It would appear that facebook wants to be seen as the platform for content creation and distribution and in turn sales and payments.

    In the UK alone 50% of mobile data traffic is to facebook and it is also the most frequent site visited before and after another website.

    Twitter has a long way to go to have this sort of usage figures. Its format is limiting to many and is still not seen (certainly in the UK) as a mainstream social media activity.

    The one thing that twitter does have on its side is its adoption by businesses (not just FMCG brands) an area that for many facebook is still in its infancy.

    If i was Google i would be more worried about facebook than facebook should be about twitter.

  • http://www.prosperousim.com Eddie

    Hi Chris thanks for the article.
    It completely baffles me why no one talks about the automated account spam on Twitter and Facebook. I bought a program a few years ago that allowed me to make a mass amount of accounts on twitter (over 15,000- all with unique gmail accounts, age, geographic location etc. all with automated posts) I’ve since abandoned the spam route… but I know hundreds of Internet Marketers with 10k-100k accounts each on both twitter and Facebook. Why do people really think there is that many people on Twitter (or Facebook for that matter). I’m willing to bet the reality of REAL users is less than half. These so-called statistical “user” reports are usually number of registered users divided by population. They don’t take in to account unique IP’s, log in reports, etc. I would put VERY little weight on statistics. If you torture any numbers long enough… you can pretty much get them to say whatever you want.

    • http://allyouneedislists.com/ Sietse

      I know what you mean. Sure the numbers may be a bit off, but the growth and the statistical comparison between Facebook and Twitter should be pretty accurate, in percentages anyway :)

  • http://allyouneedislists.com/ Sietse

    I still use Facebook over Twitter anyday, but now that Twitter’s started rolling out their own picture sharing feature it’s coming ever so close :)

    They do deserve to grow though, their efforts and contribution to social media are priceless!

  • Haddicus

    No way, no how, completely different systems, completely different markets.

  • http://www.laurierohnerstudio.com/ Laurie

    I am not an expert on either but find FB to be a race to see how many friends you can acquire and staying in touch with the ones you personally know. Twitter I have found a source of information that is short and sweet allowing me to investigate and save for later. I have made more business contacts through twitter. I feel by far Twitter beats out FB sorry FB I love to tweet.

  • http://www.imsupporting.com live chat

    Short answer : No.
    Long answer : Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

  • http://www.nettelephone.com Isleifur Gislason

    I do not trust Twitter after they decided to give the government access to peoples posts.

  • http://www.goopla.net/ Grey Olltwit

    Twitter really needs to solve its fail whale problems and invest in hardware. Every time I go to post these days I nearly always get the fail whale.

  • http://www.sathookup.com SatHookup Man

    Twitter and Facebook are on their last legs.

  • http://www.literary-magic.com Lee

    I use Twitter to scout content and direct traffic, and I sort of like the quick at-a-glance interaction it allows. That being said, the idea of tweeting photos and in-depth posts doesn’t seem to mesh, but that can change. I’m flexible. On the other hand I’m finding Facebook abandoned, a bit of a ghost town these days, so I wonder if it will go the way of MySpace, and Twitter will step up to take the frontrunning spot in social media if it does develop these features. I do enjoy more activity on Twitter. I’m never bored because with the hashtag searches there’s always something to read on my interest of the moment.

  • http://konccepts.com Som

    The both concerns have different places . Twitter is different and Facebook is different .They can not be each others substitutes . Facebook provides different features and the same features are not available in twitter . So many people use twitter for business purpose but where as this is social networking , people don’t have any substitute of Facebook.

    • http://takingyouforward.com bpo services

      They have their own way of marketing and it’s environment too. For me, no need of comparison then. I’m happy using the two.

  • http://www.trafficpunk.com Traffic Punk

    Twitter is overrated in my opinion.
    Its too limited and can only evolve into something we already have- Facebook. Look how many people abandon their Twitter accounts after joining. At its current rate, It’ll be the new Myspace, buried in the ghetto graveyard.

  • Egon

    Who Cares???

  • http://www.solidamerica.com gino

    Something you did not mention, perhaps the most important thing of twitter and by the way, you will never find it on Facebook. As soon you make a tweet, it is sending the visitors right away to your site’s webpage.
    This factor is a mayor plus that qualifies tweeter over the competition, simple ” everybody gets your immediate messages ” It make the difference. No wonder people use tweeter, it is real and fast for traffic. Facebook is for hanging around and like a cat, checking other people’s pictures and profiles, no more than that, it traffic is a waste of time.

  • http://twitx.net twitx

    At their core, Twitter and Facebook are two different mediums. Twitter is a broadcast medium meant to reach as wide an audience as possible. Facebook was designed as a walled garden where select invitees communicate with one another. Yes, Twitter allows users to close their accounts to the public and Facebook allows public accounts but these are the exception rather than the rule. Be that as it may, I can’t ever envision Twitter being a replacement for Facebook. Its entire setup is geared to different purpose. Every try having a conversation with someone on twitter? If you have an active account that’s difficult.

  • http://eddacommunity.webs.com chisco formular

    for me i believe the two social networking is really working and dis has lead to a competition for them. Facebook for me like i will is an album i.e a picture album where u store u picture and for u to open it u must use a secret key which is ur email n password. Twitter in d other side is a different social network on his own which want to be remebered and has always improved but still dosent chat compare to facebook. What i still know is that a lot of people wil still give good testimony how dis two social network has help den to locate relative and loves one.

  • http://www.wsdbiz.co.il Moses Dakor

    I highly doubt it, facebook has all twitter features, while twitter have only one of facebook`s.

    Also, Twitter is pretty much unknown by common people in Israel for example.

    I doubt there is a real fight. Facebook owns that area.

  • http://onlymeworld.com Carlson Yamamoto

    I may sound biased but I think the industry is overlooking a new and upcoming social network & media site onlymeworld.com. It’s the adult version of facebook, practical version of twitter, and people friendly version of linkedln all combined into one. I believe both facebook and twitter are enjoying the benefits of their current popularity, but in the end I believe most people will be switching over to onlymeworld.com.

  • Karia

    I think the both of them serve different purposes. Twitter can never replace FB cos it is where you go and relish old friends and ties; find out who is doing better than you are and if you are well atop your game. However Twitter is really meant for more sociable pple, who don’t mind knowing what’s going on in the lives of people they dont know but may admire. I love to know what my favourite celebs are doing, who they are hanging out with, what album they are releasing or what movies they are making. Plus, ever since I joined twitter, am so well informed, there is hardly nothing I caanot give a good insight into-global & local news; my hobbies e.t.c Twitter feeds you with information, information that interests you. When asked to choose,I’d rather stick with twitter.

  • http://www.incamacuscohostel.com/ Shomara

    hat can’t be a bad thing for Twitter itself. It makes things more unified. It means people don’t have to be “in the know” of certain apps to enjoy significant features

  • Drama

    Twitter is perfect for all Facebook haters and the fact that u don’t have to read ur followers posting like on Facebook makes it ideal to people who are bored with Facebook

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