Social Media Research, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Tools, Social Media Marketing

Is Twitter Massively Overrated?

I was thunderstruck by new social media usage data released by Edison Research and Arbitron. In this thorough study of the media habits of Americans ages 12 and up (conducted annually since 1998), the survey authors have put a statistical fine point on something I’ve been pondering for a while:

Is Twitter Massively Overrated?

www.edisonresearch.com Infinite Dial 2011 ExecSummary.pdf Is Twitter Massively Overrated? From an audience perspective, I’d say the answer is yes. The Edison/Arbitron results show that 51% of Americans 12+ are now using Facebook. That’s right, Facebook users are now the majority in this country, just like Lady Gaga fans and people that are unsure whether American cheese is in fact cheese at all (that data may be approximate). Three years ago, just 8% of Americans were using Facebook. That’s remarkable.

Conversely, despite its position as the darling of celebs, media, and marketers like yours truly, everything measured in the study is more popular than Twitter with the exception of iPad ownership, eBook reader ownership, and location-based services usage.

Last year, 7% of Americans surveyed used Twitter (and ExactTarget (client) research found 5% follow a brand on Twitter). This year, 8% of Americans use it. That’s not exactly hockey stick growth rates.

Hang on to your sombrero when you read this sentence: MySpace – which has become the butt of social media jokes that SecondLife is too pitiable to inhabit – has more than double the users of Twitter. Double!

300% more Americans listen to Pandora radio than use Twitter. Even Linkedin is bigger that Twitter, and when was the last time you got an invite to a Linkedin-focused conference?

But yet, the media breathlessly reports that Charlie Sheen accumulated one million Twitter followers in a single day. All hail the warlock!

Different Approach for Different Folks

What this data makes crystal clear is that lumping the various social outposts together and interacting with customers and prospects interchangeably across these venues is entirely a misguided approach.

Facebook is now de facto. It is vanilla ice cream. Twitter is like IPA beer. Nobody just “likes” IPA. If you like it, you love it. Beer geeks crave IPA the way marketing geeks crave Twitter.

All too frequently, Twitter and Facebook are chained together strategically and tactically, as if they are two sides of the same coin. They are very clearly not, as the size of the participating audiences, and expectations and behaviors of those audiences differ dramatically.

Interpretation From Researchers

I asked my friend Tom Webster, author of the study (and also proprietor of the outstanding BrandSavant blog that I strongly recommend you read) about this Facebook vs. Twitter audience issue, and whether it means Twitter is overrated. It depends, he says:

The temptation, I think, will be to see Twitter as smaller, and therefore less important, than Facebook. Certainly, Facebook is the gateway to the masses, since it now reaches the majority. For brands and businesses, however, the differential character of Facebook users and Twitter users means that for some products and companies, Twitter might indeed be the best channel for outreach and customer communications, while for others…it might be terrible. It’s imperative for companies to cut past the hype, do their own research, and be where their users are, not where the noise is.

— Tom Webster, Edison Research

For a second perspective, I asked my friend Morgan Stewart of digital research and consulting firm Trendline Interactive (and co-author of the ExactTarget study cited above) about his reaction:

The report highlights an important reality: Twitter appeals to a niche audience. Most people simply have no interest in the real-time, condensed form of communication Twitter facilitates. However, this does not mean that Twitter’s role is insignificant or that its’ importance is overrated.

Comparing Facebook and Twitter in this manner is like comparing shopping malls and fashion shows. Malls, like Facebook, have mass appeal and are an expression of larger culture. In contrast, while only a small subset of the population actually attend fashion shows, the interactions that happen there influence the larger culture. Twitter is where online influencers congregate and share new ideas, and that alone is significant.

— Morgan Stewart, Trendline Interactive

My takeaways from this findings are these:
1. I need to do more on Facebook, and not be as Twitter-heavy as I have been
2. Facebook is now almost a required element, even for B2B
3. Twitter is increasingly a highly targeted element, used to reach and interact with particular audiences (more akin to PR in some ways). Twitter is of course also a must-do customer relations vehicle for most companies

What are your takeaways?

  • http://www.marketingmy.co.uk/blog Katherine Salt

    I so agree with the point that Twitter and Facebook have different audiences. The engagement I get on Twitter is so much higher than that on Facebook. When they love you it’s great, when they don’t they certainly let you know about. Makes it great for ad hoc customer research.

    And of course American cheese isn’t real cheese I think it is some sort of thermoplastic derivative.

  • http://flatratebiz.com Genuine Chris Johnson

    Twitter is unparalleled as a listening station. For a service based, sales focused business that hustles, twitter is without peer in sharing leads. (For example: do a search for know anyone + your keywords). The market for location independent help is big and it’s great.

  • http://twitter.com/LeoWid Leo Widrich

    Jay, I have to say, your Twitter bio “no-hype” Social Media strategist is more true than anything and your through research and calm questioning of the true state of things is much appreciated. It gives me food of thought I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

    Your friend Tom Webster is an extremely fine thinkier from my amateur view and the last sentence is an answer to so many questions companies and users ask so frequently.

    Thanks for an awesome post, it is Buffered twice. Have a great day.

  • http://twitter.com/dml_82 David Levantis

    Very good post, thanks for sharing.

    Twitter = the hyper active digital minority.

    Funny stat re MySpace!

  • http://twitter.com/iamluca Luca Massaro

    Hi Jay, interesting piece.

    However, I think the title for this post doesn’t reflect the content you have supplied. Is Twitter massively overrated? The problem with this is that each user has a different experience and you cannot create a comparison with Twitter and watching television of listening to Pandora as you mentioned.

    The analysis table is largely irrelevant also. I enjoy reading posts like this with varied stats and insights but the bottom line is, the way in which the world communicates and digests information has changed and thus I believe a table showing the comparisons to the these mediums has inconsistencies.

    Rather than pin-point the statistics showing how Twitter is only used by 8% of the audience this year in comparison with other mediums; mention the usage of Twitter ‘whilst’ viewers are also using Twitter to discuss the programs they are watching.

    We are beginning to see a major shift with TV becoming less of an institution and more of an addition to ones recreation in sync with a users social interaction. People are slowly getting bored of knowing what their friends are watching and constantly want to connect with new people. This is where Facebook has flaws.

    As Chris Johnson said below, Twitter is a listening station offering its users unparalleled communication direct to a target audience, in real time. Understanding the fundamentals of the tool are pivotal to maximizing it’s potential, and I for one swear by Twitter as my primary resource for communication.

  • http://twitter.com/jackbremer Jack Bremer 

    Love the bit about FB being a shopping mall while Twitter is a fashion show – so true.

    Interact on Twitter and the message can reach much further – Twitter followers ready become your unpaid marketing Dept extension, brand advocates. They discuss you outside of Twitter, in their blogs, news sites, at the pub – FB I just feel has the same ongoing conversation traction.

    Most people I’ve spoken to have real-life friends, acquaintances, old-school-mates, family as their FB friends. These are people we know through circumstance. In turn, Twitter connections seem more “earned” – the quality & trust is far stronger in my opinion.

    Engaging with a brand on Twitter creates the must-share experiences, like having the most amazing meal at restaurant and just having to tell people about it. An interaction on FB is like having fast food – keeps you going but is often unremarkable and unfulfilling.

  • http://kriscolvin.com Kris Colvin

    Love this post Jay, def important stuff to consider for those of us in the biz. But here is my question. Tom Webster says “Facebook is the gateway to the masses, since it now reaches the majority”…. but is he talking about “via advertising”??? Because I reach only a handful of people with my blather there, compared to Twitter, not doing any advertising.

    I think I have 400-500 or something friends or whatchamacallits on Facebook, but 30,000 something on Twitter. So in terms of reach and the way that Facebook’s process of showing or not showing hottest vs. most recent updates in the system to people, at any given time I have the chance to spread the word about something far faster on Twitter, which is why when it comes to world events nothing touches it.

    I agree they are apples and oranges… I am just not sure that simply “spending more time on Facebook” is enough to DO anything positive (from a marketing perspective) – or is it??

  • http://twitter.com/vizzmedia Vizz Media

    Some amazing statistics here. Every Social Media site is unique and they offer different functionality. Every Twitter user is not necessarily a Facebook user or vice versa. While executing our business strategy, we need to develop different tactics to cater to the needs of our audience across these avenues.Thanks for sharing.

    http://www.facebook.com/vizzmedia

  • http://socialmediaiq.co.za Peter du Toit

    I think Tom Webster’s comment sums it up perfectly “It’s imperative for companies to cut past the hype, do their own research, and be where their users are, not where the noise is.” So it’s overrated if your users are not there – but definitely not if they are! Great post thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/iamreff iamreff

    I did a response post here: http://www.refford.com/2011/04/if-facebook-is-vanilla-ice-cream-then-twitter-is-ipa-beer/

    I love this: If Facebook is vanilla ice cream, then Twitter is IPA beer

    Here are my thoughts on Jay’s take away:
    1.Do more on Facebook – I don’t think I’ll do that. I check my Facebook feed a couple times a day to catch up with friends and family, but I don’t use it as a public platform. And I struggle to understand why others do.
    2.Use Facebook for B2B – I still feel Facebook is “friends and family”. I don’t think B2B buyers want to connect with your business on Facebook. The exception is if there is some component of your offer that touches people in a very personal way.
    3.Use Twitter in a targeted fashion – Makes sense. Twitterati tend to be hyper-social, super-connected and very aware of outreach. Hitting the right people on Twitter can generate a lot of positive momentum.

    For me the point about knowing your audience is the key.

    • Farrell

      Exactly! I am a Facebook user and I do not want to connect with brands on my page; I only want to connect with friends; and of my friends, I only want to see a handful of status updates–those I really care about. Therefore, I wonder how many “social media experts” that tell B2B companies to “connect” with their customers on Facebook do it themselves as Facebook users.

  • http://twitter.com/JennySeeley Jennifer L. Seeley

    I couldn’t agree with Morgan Stewart more when she said, “Twitter appeals to a niche audience. Most people simply have no interest in the real-time, condensed form of communication Twitter facilitates. However, this does not mean that Twitter’s role is insignificant or that its’ importance is overrated.”

    While Twitter is certainly a much smaller audience, I think it can be more influential because it’s so much more targeted. This is not to say that Facebook doesn’t have it’s purposes either, but I think it’s a slight exaggeration to say that Twitter is overrated. What’s overrated is when people/companies say “I need to be on Twitter!” and create an account just for the sake of it – that’s overrated. Like any other means of communication, its use must be strategic, calculated and well though-out. If used correctly, Twitter (and Facebook) can be tremendously helpful tools.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

      Per Katherine’s comment, it’s very different audiences, often with different socializing goals. My Facebook I’ve set as my personal social network; it’s about a few updates, photos, games and random ‘likes’ on fan pages I seldom revisit. Until I can control which posts are seen only by biz ‘friends’ or only family, etc., I don’t see my usage changing which admittedly clouds my opinion. Because of the niche factor I’ve set with my professional account, I do have the most interactions on Twitter b/c it’s a pool of marketing minded folks who also ‘overrate’ Twitter. And you’re right, as such for the right audience it can be very strategically targeted. FWIW.

  • http://rickcaffeinated.com Rick Stilwell

    I don’t know, Jay – if you take “what you do” and just transfer the energy to Facebook, I think you’ll miss what it’s there for. I get most of my actual business from FB – but I think it’s because I share what’s important to me and how I think it’s important to others/local business (social media tools for their strategies). If I took to FB actually marketing – I think I’d lose the natural feel of Friends & Family. I don’t do much marketing on Twitter either, mostly just blogpost pimping – but the same won’t float on FB.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      It’s a good point Rick. You definitely can’t just take your Twitter routine and export it over to FB, hence the analogies above. But for example, is it time that I build a real fan page for Convince & Convert? I have one for The NOW Revolution that I co-own with Amber, but maybe I need to create a bit more of a presence on FB beyond my personal account, which has historically been friends/family only.

      • http://rickcaffeinated.com Rick Stilwell

        Maybe – As long as it’s not detracting from the others, or spreading your audience too thin. I can see a page per business item.

        I guess what I’m seeing in the replies and your subsequent replies isn’t so much that Twitter actually IS MASSIVELY OVERRATED – but that for you individually, you’re thinking YOU’ve put too much into the Twitter basket business-wise? Is that it? Because where I wanted to argue with you, I see you contemplating some of the same things I’ve already got spinning.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

          Fair point. I would say that perhaps Twitter users overrate Twitter in their own minds and behaviors vs. other possible outlets for that time and energy. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      It’s a good point Rick. You definitely can’t just take your Twitter routine and export it over to FB, hence the analogies above. But for example, is it time that I build a real fan page for Convince & Convert? I have one for The NOW Revolution that I co-own with Amber, but maybe I need to create a bit more of a presence on FB beyond my personal account, which has historically been friends/family only.

  • http://twitter.com/chuckgose Chuck Gose

    This shows that despite the attention given to online communication, broadcast television and radio are still vital.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Very much so Chuck. Although for different purposes.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Very much so Chuck. Although for different purposes.

    • http://twitter.com/SteelToad Ray Andrews

      Does it really though, when nearly half of the survey group consisted of people that log their radio listening for Arbitron ?

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

        Hi Ray. As Tom mentioned in his comment, I don’t believe the respondents were diary users.

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

        Hi Ray. As Tom mentioned in his comment, I don’t believe the respondents were diary users.

        • http://twitter.com/SteelToad Ray Andrews

          That may be the case, but from the survey : “Diarykeepers represent 46% of the
          completed interviews and RDD sampled respondents represent 54% of the completed interviews”

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

    Thanks for weighing in Tom. I appreciate your clarifications on study methodology. You and I have discussed this study the last couple years, and I wouldn’t cite from it in a whole post if I didn’t believe in its soundness. Same thing with the ET research.

    There’s a reason why I don’t write about the “Your Facebook fans are worth $124″ studies, and research of that ilk. If I write a blog post interpreting data, I more or less have to stand behind that data.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

    Thanks for weighing in Tom. I appreciate your clarifications on study methodology. You and I have discussed this study the last couple years, and I wouldn’t cite from it in a whole post if I didn’t believe in its soundness. Same thing with the ET research.

    There’s a reason why I don’t write about the “Your Facebook fans are worth $124″ studies, and research of that ilk. If I write a blog post interpreting data, I more or less have to stand behind that data.

  • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

    Note to self. Do more Facebook. Ok.

    Question. What made you miss out on the opportunity to reference a popular colloquialism (as well as a TV show) and say “Different Approach rather than Different Strokes?

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I can only stuff so many cultural references in each post. Personal limit reached with Morgan’s fashion show quote! ;)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I can only stuff so many cultural references in each post. Personal limit reached with Morgan’s fashion show quote! ;)

      • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

        lol…word.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I can only stuff so many cultural references in each post. Personal limit reached with Morgan’s fashion show quote! ;)

  • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

    Note to self. Do more Facebook. Ok.

    Question. What made you miss out on the opportunity to reference a popular colloquialism (as well as a TV show) and say “Different Approach rather than Different Strokes?

  • http://inklingmedia.net Ken Mueller

    I love your approach, Jay. Too often we look at the numbers and write things off, but those of us who use Twitter regularly understand how it works and what it does for our business or our brand.

    And yes, we need to be careful not to lump all social platforms together. I often get the “Twitter vs. Facebook” question, and I’m not even sure how people can lump them together like that. They function differently, have different uses, and yet integrate well together as part of an overall strategy (along with blogs and other platforms and tools)

    Each platform has to be approached differently but with an eye on being a part of the whole.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Good stuff Ken. We should start a movement to “ban the vs.”!

      • http://inklingmedia.net Ken Mueller

        I understand that sometimes with budgets people need to make a decision between radio or television, or print vs. broadcast. But those are one-way advertising platforms. The vs. kind of thinking in Social Media comes from a real lack of understanding that social isn’t the same as traditional. People use them differently and for different reasons.

  • Tom Martin

    Jay,

    Interesting and thought provoking…but not sure I can agree with your net take away because like most things in marketing, channel selection and emphasis depends on target audience. The Exact Target data is very compelling but is general.

    For some brands, Twitter usage amongst targets and prospects could be significant..while Facebook could be lacking, even though a gabillion folks are on that platform. To me it’s like when advertisers started buying niche cable shows vs mainstream broadcast. Sure the audiences were smaller, but because cable channels are largely based on passion (Food, DIY, Sports, etc) advertisers that appealed to that passion found a far more relevant audience for their product. Your #3 pt.

    So while Twitter may not have the reach of FB, I do agree it allows for better targeting (think Hashtag chats = cable networks) and at the end of the day, if enough of your audience is there to generate enough sales to keep you in business and growing (or significantly contribute to those sales) then you as a marketer ought to be there in force. Thus, the data wouldn’t say do less on Twitter and more on Facebook, it would say keep trucking on Twitter and figure out a way to be more active on FB — at least as a test and then see what happens in terms of ROI. If you’d see a positive ROI then great, keep putting up the extra FB effort, but if the ROI is negative, then maybe you have enough overlap or just your audience IS Twitter heavy, that you can afford to sidestep FB completely or place minimal effort against.

    @TomMartin

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Well said. Indeed, for some companies (mine, for example) Twitter’s audience composition fits the bill. However, as social media becomes even more mainstream, you can’t put all your eggs in a 8% basket. At least I’m not comfortable with that level of risk.

      I’m also not sure the targeting is any different on either platform. The people with whom you interact on FB are those that “like” or “friend” you. The people with whom you interact on Twitter are those that “follow” you, or vice-versa. The mechanics are exactly the same. True that Twitter is used more as a topical community in a transient, digital flash mob fashion (twitter chats, et al). There isn’t much of an equivalent for that on FB, despite their push to make FB Groups more viable.

      You’re right that in my conclusions I am presuming that I have a viable community on FB that will generate ROI. I have stipulated that, and I shouldn’t do so without testing it. Good call.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Well said. Indeed, for some companies (mine, for example) Twitter’s audience composition fits the bill. However, as social media becomes even more mainstream, you can’t put all your eggs in a 8% basket. At least I’m not comfortable with that level of risk.

      I’m also not sure the targeting is any different on either platform. The people with whom you interact on FB are those that “like” or “friend” you. The people with whom you interact on Twitter are those that “follow” you, or vice-versa. The mechanics are exactly the same. True that Twitter is used more as a topical community in a transient, digital flash mob fashion (twitter chats, et al). There isn’t much of an equivalent for that on FB, despite their push to make FB Groups more viable.

      You’re right that in my conclusions I am presuming that I have a viable community on FB that will generate ROI. I have stipulated that, and I shouldn’t do so without testing it. Good call.

  • Tom Martin

    Jay,

    Interesting and thought provoking…but not sure I can agree with your net take away because like most things in marketing, channel selection and emphasis depends on target audience. The Exact Target data is very compelling but is general.

    For some brands, Twitter usage amongst targets and prospects could be significant..while Facebook could be lacking, even though a gabillion folks are on that platform. To me it’s like when advertisers started buying niche cable shows vs mainstream broadcast. Sure the audiences were smaller, but because cable channels are largely based on passion (Food, DIY, Sports, etc) advertisers that appealed to that passion found a far more relevant audience for their product. Your #3 pt.

    So while Twitter may not have the reach of FB, I do agree it allows for better targeting (think Hashtag chats = cable networks) and at the end of the day, if enough of your audience is there to generate enough sales to keep you in business and growing (or significantly contribute to those sales) then you as a marketer ought to be there in force. Thus, the data wouldn’t say do less on Twitter and more on Facebook, it would say keep trucking on Twitter and figure out a way to be more active on FB — at least as a test and then see what happens in terms of ROI. If you’d see a positive ROI then great, keep putting up the extra FB effort, but if the ROI is negative, then maybe you have enough overlap or just your audience IS Twitter heavy, that you can afford to sidestep FB completely or place minimal effort against.

    @TomMartin

  • http://twitter.com/katpinke Katie Lukens Pinke

    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile Jay and found your blog post to be very insightful. I’m a “love it” Twitter user. It’s my specific communities on Twitter that work for me, highly targeted. But from a business perspective, I agree Facebook needs to be a part of more strategies even in B2B. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to seeing you in St. Louis this week. And Fargo next week!

  • http://twitter.com/katpinke Katie Lukens Pinke

    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile Jay and found your blog post to be very insightful. I’m a “love it” Twitter user. It’s my specific communities on Twitter that work for me, highly targeted. But from a business perspective, I agree Facebook needs to be a part of more strategies even in B2B. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to seeing you in St. Louis this week. And Fargo next week!

  • Thenewradar

    Great article and follow up replies. I think the audience/end user is the main person that needs to be the center of the discussion. Twitter and Facebook users are two different cultures and their uses for the mediums tend to be considerably different. Twitter users tend to be more b2b whereas Facebook users tend to be more b2c or really more c2c. The bottom line is that by giving the user, be it consumer or client options on how they want to connect/interact with you is the key.

  • Thenewradar

    Great article and follow up replies. I think the audience/end user is the main person that needs to be the center of the discussion. Twitter and Facebook users are two different cultures and their uses for the mediums tend to be considerably different. Twitter users tend to be more b2b whereas Facebook users tend to be more b2c or really more c2c. The bottom line is that by giving the user, be it consumer or client options on how they want to connect/interact with you is the key.

  • http://twitter.com/carmenhill Carmen Hill

    An observation: With exception of Facebook, the channels with the highest audience percentages are passive (watch, listen), while those with lower percentages are active (use). It takes less commitment to watch or listen than to actively participate.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Definitely. There’s a lean forward vs. lean back differentiation happening here. But historically we’ve always believed than lean forward can’t get any real traction. FB is proving otherwise, going from 8-51% in 3 years.

      • http://rickcaffeinated.com Rick Stilwell

        But I’d throw out that FB is a passive lean-back forum, not as engaged as Twitter/others in the survey. More than not, folks read their feeds in order to see what’s going on with Friends & Family – only posting when moved. Much more a stream in than an viable back-and-forth over time, I’d think.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

          I don’t think that’s true – at least comparing FB to Twitter activity. 1% of Twitter users send something like 90% of all tweets, and 50% of Twitter members have never tweeted – ever. Twitter is Digg, with a layer of customer service thrown in for good measure.

          • http://paulgailey.com Paul Gailey

            it’s more acute than that @Jaybaer 0.01% of twitter users account for 50% of the published content as per the Yahoo research http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8411930/Twitter-elite-send-most-tweets.html

            We can all theorize over social stats till the cows come home (don’t we always and did they ever?) as the true beholders of the data play their cards close to their chest. Take Facebook for example, the metric they regard with any value is a user who login once every 30 days – a number that is far different to the odd half billion of their userbase.

            So TV still ranks high, but break it down to rising generation and for the first time, its total viewing hours begins to shrink, I’d like to see this data segmented. “12 and up” is a little brushstroke, no?

          • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

            Thanks Paul. I appreciate the link. .01 = 50%. Wow!

          • http://twitter.com/webby2001 Tom Webster

            Someone has to paint the brushstroke first, Paul :) I’ll be showing this in far more granular detail at Blogworld, and release the data shortly after.

          • http://twitter.com/Arun_Menon Arun_Menon

            Jay, just a note on these figures on Twitter activity. From my experience of having worked with a UGC-led website, I understand the ‘1% contributes 90% content’ holds good for mostly all sites which depend heavily on user content. I read something similar – more than a year ago – about FB’s fan pages – apparently, only about 1% (or thereabouts) of fan pages have more than 100 fans!

            Great article, BTW! Suppose we will never hear the last of this query (‘overrated twitter’)… I am also of the view that it should be horses for courses – identify where your target is and make that space your focus area

  • http://twitter.com/carmenhill Carmen Hill

    With exception of Facebook, the channels with the highest audience percentages are passive (watch, listen), while those with lower percentages are active (use). It takes less commitment to watch or listen than to actively participate.

  • http://www.in10sity.net Andrew Schiller

    Love the idea of FB vs. T is like Malls vs. Fashion Shows. Great quote.

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Hi Jay!

    Just this past Saturday at #tweetdiner we talked about what would happen if Twitter “disappeared tomorrow.” When I threw out the topic last week, I’m pretty sure a couple of people fainted. One person asked me not to jinx their beloved Twitter with such sacrilege.

    We talked about what people use Twitter for these days, and the consensus opinion was that people use Twitter for:

    real-time chatting
    deep network building
    dissemination of information
    skimming, like a newspaper, for information that is useful/valuable

    It was difficult to conceptualize a platform that would be able to do all of that stuff more effectively.

    That being said, I don’t think that contradicts the findings of the study you mention here. For people who use and love Twitter, there are very specific reasons for it. For people who have never gotten into Twitter or who don’t really see the point in it, there’s no basis of comparison, really.

    The real question is what would happen if Facebook suddenly disappeared tomorrow, I guess :)

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Hi Jay!

    Just this past Saturday at #tweetdiner we talked about what would happen if Twitter “disappeared tomorrow.” When I threw out the topic last week, I’m pretty sure a couple of people fainted. One person asked me not to jinx their beloved Twitter with such sacrilege.

    We talked about what people use Twitter for these days, and the consensus opinion was that people use Twitter for:

    real-time chatting
    deep network building
    dissemination of information
    skimming, like a newspaper, for information that is useful/valuable

    It was difficult to conceptualize a platform that would be able to do all of that stuff more effectively.

    That being said, I don’t think that contradicts the findings of the study you mention here. For people who use and love Twitter, there are very specific reasons for it. For people who have never gotten into Twitter or who don’t really see the point in it, there’s no basis of comparison, really.

    The real question is what would happen if Facebook suddenly disappeared tomorrow, I guess :)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Phone trees. The future is in phone trees.

  • http://www.crossingmarketingandit.com Elmer Boutin

    “It’s imperative for companies to cut past the hype, do their own research, and be where their users are, not where the noise is.”

    I think this is the most important take away from the piece. What works for you may not necessarily work for me and vice versa. While it’s important to keep best practices in mind and check out the advice of experts, there are no “cookie cutter” easy fix recipes for success in these areas.

    • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

      I liked that quote too and thought, exactly too much noise might scare away the fish. ITA no cookie cutter or ‘one size fits all’ formulas. FWIW.

  • http://www.crossingmarketingandit.com Elmer Boutin

    “It’s imperative for companies to cut past the hype, do their own research, and be where their users are, not where the noise is.”

    I think this is the most important take away from the piece. What works for you may not necessarily work for me and vice versa. While it’s important to keep best practices in mind and check out the advice of experts, there are no “cookie cutter” easy fix recipes for success in these areas.

  • Kyle Mensing

    I know using “automatic cross-platform publishing” is a bit of a contentious issue but doesn’t it expand the reach of Twitter? It may only have 8% usage but you can have your Twitter automatically post to Facebook thus increasing reach. I have Tweeted something and ended up having conversations about it on Facebook. Denouncing a social media channel due to its individual reach contradicts the true notion of social media, interconnect everything and you have all your bases covered. The people interacting with you on Twitter are likely to be more social and potentially “tastemakers” making them more valuable than other channels. Twitter also doesn’t algorithmically distribute your message like Facebook.

    Side note: IPA is the most popular form of beer in the States. However, I heard a Belgian brew master say she thought the brewery screwed up the batch the first time she tasted an IPA, now she loves them.

  • Kyle Mensing

    I know using “automatic cross-platform publishing” is a bit of a contentious issue but doesn’t it expand the reach of Twitter? It may only have 8% usage but you can have your Twitter automatically post to Facebook thus increasing reach. I have Tweeted something and ended up having conversations about it on Facebook. Denouncing a social media channel due to its individual reach contradicts the true notion of social media, interconnect everything and you have all your bases covered. The people interacting with you on Twitter are likely to be more social and potentially “tastemakers” making them more valuable than other channels. Twitter also doesn’t algorithmically distribute your message like Facebook.

    Side note: IPA is the most popular form of beer in the States. However, I heard a Belgian brew master say she thought the brewery screwed up the batch the first time she tasted an IPA, now she loves them.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I can’t believe IPA is most popular form of beer. Most popular craft brew style perhaps. But certainly American lager/pilsner in the Bud/Coors Light category is the most popular.

      Because the audiences are so different, and the use cases so different, I’m not a proponent of cross-posting. Great research from Dan Zarrella on that. Even the writing style between the two differs dramatically.

  • http://www.thebrendadollteam.com Lynda White

    I’ve never heard of a real estate agent selling a house as a result of being on MySpace. Different platforms appeal to different industries. It doesn’t make them better or worse, just different. ActiveRain is a real estate specific platform with just over 200,000 members, but should it be discounted? Absolutely not! Interesting article, though – makes you think.

    I love Jack Bremer’s comment below equating FB to fast food – unremarkable and unfulfilling. I could also use the analogy of cats and dogs – dogs love you unconditionally; cats make you work for their affection. On Twitter you have to work harder to get people to interact, and that’s why it’s more fulfilling when they do.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      You are 100% right Lynda. The key is to be where YOUR audience is. In your case, that’s Active Rain. In medical device manufacturers’ case, that might be Sermo (physician social network).

      My point, however, is that we don’t typically make that distinction. Too often we think Twitter + Facebook = success formula. And it ain’t so.

  • http://twitter.com/leschaef Lauren Schaefer

    Thanks for this Jay! I guess my question is- while Facebook is more popular by far, is it even possible to be used in the same ways? I would love to see a successful B2B using Facebook. Or in my case, I would never want to reach out to a prospective employer on Facebook in the same way that I would on Twitter. Not that I have anything to hide, it just seems far to casual and intrusive. If family photos are featured, I don’t want to touch it.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I’d point you to Hubspot as just one example of a successful B2B use of FB.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I’d point you to Hubspot as just one example of a successful B2B use of FB.

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

    “The biggest challenge I have is getting people back to visit a fan page again and again :)”

    Co-signed. Was just commenting that I’ve liked fan pages but seldom revisit. IDK what would make others visit, obviously it’s how strongly they like a brand, the engagement or lack thereof, the deals and specials, a ton of different motivations and factors will influence this. For me personally, it’d be the ability to control who sees said interactions so that I don’t have friends, family, business colleagues going “seriously you spend WAY too much time debating about American Cheese; you need to get a life, get back to work.”

    • http://www.prconversations.com Judy Gombita

      Maxine and Davina, not only revisiting the fan pages, but who is actually “Like-ing” companies?

      I regularly poll my nephews and nieces (21, 19-almost-20, 17, 17 and 15) about their Facebook usage. Not interested in Liking companies. Not interested in having “conversations” with them. They are actually rather resentful of their social networking being taken over by businesses.

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

        Indeed Judy, there is a big trend toward consumers not wanting the play the FB brand game. Mid-term problem, to be sure.

        • http://www.prconversations.com Judy Gombita

          I’d hit post before realizing I didn’t include your name, Jay. Sorry about that.

          It is a huge disconnect, between what the company wants to do and what its core constituents (i.e., members) want to do.

          Facebook hired Jordan Banks (a really smart and lovely man with a ton of consumer tech and media executive experience, including MD of eBay Canada and CEO of Jump TV) to be the managing director of Facebook Canada. But what is the bulk of his time being spent on? Selling ads.

          Speaking of Facebook Canada, I did attend The People Web event at Social Media Week Toronto it hosted a few months ago. One of the more useful things discovered was the Facebook marketing success stories page:

          http://www.facebook.com/marketing?sk=app_7146470109

          Plus I shared with you, on Twitter, the one company Facebook page I can get behind, the highly customized GenOmics “media” room that (former journalist) Mike Spear built (which is garnering international attention in the scientific field, etc.

          http://apps.facebook.com/genomics/

          (I “interviewed” Mike Spear on PR Conversations, including the backgrounder to this groundbreaking Facebook page.)

          Cheers,
          Judy

          • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

            Cool! Thanks for the link to the Genomics stuff. I’ll check that out. I’ve read that Canada is highest concentration of Facebook usage per capita. Is that still true?

      • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

        I’m with the teens; I’ve liked brands and companies, bands and TVs shows, products, etc. as a way of building my profile and showing general interests, but nothing more. I’m not interested in the conversations or engagement much myself. I want to know when this band releases a new album, maybe get my ‘deals’ or whatever but will avoid the ads and marketing as best I can. But then, are these teens or folks like me the target? Obviously there are folks out there that do ‘like’ companies, that do engage with brands so it’s to be considered a part of the strategy, a closer look at who is doing the ‘liking’ and more importantly, the revisiting and engaging. FWIW.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyeCrane Kellye Crane

    I know you’re aware of this Jay, but for the benefit of other readers: when interpreting studies we have to be careful about the definition of the word “use.” In looking at the report summary, I’m not clear on how MySpace use was determined. However, for Facebook and Twitter it appears that having a profile/account was the yardstick.Visit frequency seems to have been part of the study, but I don’t believe is reflected in the above chart.

    In this case, I don’t think it changes your premise one iota. Those of us who love Twitter tend to focus on it too much, and can stand to broaden our horizons a bit. That’s why it’s always important to keep up on the latest research, so we don’t fall into assumptions based on our own usage. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Thanks Kellye. I’ll see if Tom Webster can jump on re: how they measured MySpace.

      • http://twitter.com/webby2001 Tom Webster

        The same yardstick was used for MySpace – have a personal profile/account. We have other data in this study (to be released at Blogworld next month) that suggests, of course, that MySpace isn’t exactly engaging all of those folks. Visit frequency will also be released next month, and as Kellye noted, is not included in the data above.

        Thanks!

        • http://twitter.com/KellyeCrane Kellye Crane

          Ah, look forward to the next report – we shall stay tuned!

  • Anonymous

    Twitter is where I ‘learn’ and connect with other people who share my interests. It is a superb tool for advice/education/connecting.

    Facebook is where I do my ‘heavy lifting’ and let my prospective customers get to know me, my philosophy, and what my company does in a non-threatening environment – I’m not selling them anything specific.

    Twitter is like my brilliant, ADHD brother who doesn’t mind LOTS AND LOTS of communication.

    Facebook is like my stoic grandfather: when he speaks, I listen, but he doesn’t want me calling him 20 times a day.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I love that juxtaposition Amy!

      • Anonymous

        And to the point: I found YOU on Twitter and you’re my new Social Media favorite source for info/education. Probably wouldn’t have bumped into you on FB out of the blue…

        Facebook kind of reminds me of a big family reunion and you’d better know someone at the party or you’ll be shut out and standing in the corner alone.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

          I actually prefer to stand alone in the corner at family reunions, but that could be more a commentary on my family than on Facebook vs. Twitter

          • Anonymous

            Jay, you must be related to me!

        • http://www.reefbuilders.com Brian Blank

          Amy I tend to think of Twitter as the big family reunion. It has really been pulling teeth at times to get a conversation going but when they do happen they are fun. I find Facebook as a great way to connect deeper or reconnect — don’t know how many old Navy buddies I’ve found and reconnected with on FB, so its been great!

          I liken Twitter to a lot of people standing on soapboxes and preaching, shouting, so lots of noise and not enough “listening” even though as marketers/PR folks — that is what we preach (but do we practice??!!).

          • Anonymous

            Absolutely on the NOISE thing, which is why a lot of my clients get scared away. Facebook is easier to digest in the beginning so I often start them there and on LinkedIn, and ease them into Twitter.

        • http://ariherzog.com Ari Herzog

          Heh, and I found Jay on his blog before any social networking site. And I still gain more insight from his blog because it’s linked all over the place.

    • http://beyondthescore.tv Jordan J. Caron

      Amy,

      Once you connect with users on Twitter, do you ask them to become friends with you or to follow your business/brand Facebook fan page?

      I have been thinking of doing this as I have built a very good relationship with a few users I met on twitter. Twitter doesn’t showcase who you are as a person or brand like Facebook can and it seems like the obvious play here. Facebook also seems to be more intimate and private so if you have a user willing to follow you, your odds seems greater to convert. I read a study recently stating the facebook fans/followers are a more likely to purchase than on twitter.

      Thanks to a lack of that security wall that many Facebook users have up (I made my personal profile so hidden until just recently) it’s much easier to connect and engage with users via Twitter. But at the same time, it’s also tougher through all the congestion and speed to make sure your tweets are getting heard.

      Connect, engage and build trust and a relationship on Twitter. Then have them follow or befriend you on Facebook to further the relationship while gaining a stronger chance for a sale of your product or service. Anyone see anything wrong with this strategy and intertwining the two platforms?

      The question is then, when and how often do you ask people to follow on facebook?

      Nice site by the way Jay and I look forward to following. You can thank Scott Stratten’s UnMarketing for my following!

      Cheers

      • Anonymous

        Hi Jordan,

        Yes, on the question: ONCE I build a relationship with a Tweep and I know they’re not going to try to shove their product down my throat I connect of FB. I’m actually meeting up with a few of the Florida connections I’ve made when I’m down there in June to work on a blog together.

        Regarding security on FB, I give up! I’ve set mine back to Friends Only at least 3 times; it appears that each time they have a major development it resets back to Open. I tell all my clients that they need to understand that on FB their IS no privacy.

        It appears to me that many of the “cool” Social Media kids look down on FB, or at least they did, as not quite a hip as Twitter. You know, Twitter has its own language and is a lot harder to figure out than FB, where you start by connecting with your REAL friends. You have to work a lot harder for FB fans than Twitter followers because of the Security issues you just mentioned, and because people are much more suspicious on FB. I always check the FB Bus Pages of the Big Influencers and very often they have less than 1,000 Fans.

        I see a shift in that thinking now…. and some off them are working harder to build the FB following – maybe because of all of the reporting on what you mentioned – $$$/fan vs. $$/follower.

        Thanks on the site – it’s a work in progress… as they all should be, right?

        And I LOVE Scott Stratten’s philosophy and glad we connected. Finding you on FB soon:)

    • uyggyu

      amy mcfagget tobin: social media is where i go to be a fajjot

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

    Thanks for that Adam. But anecdotally, I find most B2B folks think Twitter is the cat’s meow (and Linkedin) and shun Facebook. The research you cite suggests differently, which I appreciate.

  • http://twitter.com/neicolec Neicole Crepeau

    Great post, Jay. I am surprised by some of the items that beat out Twitter. Despite that, though, I agree with Morgan’s assessment. Twitter may be small, but in certain areas and for certain purposes, it’s influence can be big. It’s not just about knowing where your customer is, it’s about knowing what your strategy is, what audiences you need to reach (secondary, tertiary) and how you need to engage them, and then picking the right platforms. As I blogged about a while back, you can’t forget all the little forums and groups, either, if that’s where your audience is.

    Which is why, despite 51% being on Facebook, it’s still worth some research to see if Facebook is right for you, especially in light of some of the data about how customers don’t Like brands much or tend to Unlike them easily. Just because people are on Facebook doesn’t mean they are going to Like or interact with you there…

  • http://twitter.com/neicolec Neicole Crepeau

    Great post, Jay. I am surprised by some of the items that beat out Twitter. Despite that, though, I agree with Morgan’s assessment. Twitter may be small, but in certain areas and for certain purposes, it’s influence can be big. It’s not just about knowing where your customer is, it’s about knowing what your strategy is, what audiences you need to reach (secondary, tertiary) and how you need to engage them, and then picking the right platforms. As I blogged about a while back, you can’t forget all the little forums and groups, either, if that’s where your audience is.

    Which is why, despite 51% being on Facebook, it’s still worth some research to see if Facebook is right for you, especially in light of some of the data about how customers don’t Like brands much or tend to Unlike them easily. Just because people are on Facebook doesn’t mean they are going to Like or interact with you there…

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I completely agree about little forums and groups and stuff. The FIRST place your business should be is WHEREVER people are already talking about you or your category. If that’s on Mars, so be it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DianeRayfield.ISMA Diane Rayfield

    What this data makes crystal clear is that lumping the various social outposts together and interacting with customers and prospects interchangeably across these venues is entirely a misguided approach.

  • http://twitter.com/swoodruff Steve Woodruff

    Jay, this is a much-needed discussion. Here’s what I see in my experience: there is a “geek-sophistication” level that is MUCH higher (in general) among those I encounter on Twitter; whereas there are loads of people I’m connected with on Facebook – regular folks – who would never find themselves using Twitter. I am also far more likely to find my pharma clientele in the following order of networks: 1. LinkedIn…. 2. Facebook………. 24. Twitter. If your audience is mostly in the regular people lifestreaming category, or if they are buttoned-up professionals in a regulated industry – then, yes, Twitter is over-rated as a platform. If you’re after thought-leaders, however…it’s indispensable.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Thanks for sharing that insight Steve. Interesting that Facebook is #2 for your pharma guys.

  • Colin N. Clarke

    Personally, I like the searchability of Twitter. That alone is very valuable to me. But to be honest, I likely connect with more information more often via my Facebook feed. Each has their own strengths in utility. I like what Webster says, “…be where the users are, not where the noise is.” Each person/company will use their tools differently. It’s vital to know your audience.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      You got that right Colin. The genius of Twitter ain’t Twitter, it’s Twitter search.

  • Anonymous

    I look at the data results as “what service has been around the longest?” and it holds fairly true. You compare Facebook and Twitter, but Facebook has 2 years experience on Twitter. Also think about MySpace and how terrible of an experience it was to use it. When Facebook improved the user experience in a social network and created a better way to connect online, of course the usage rates go through the roof.

    Also, think about mainstream media (the TV that 98% of people are using) and the fact that in the past year you almost always hear news outlets, talk shows, etc saying follow us on Twitter and Facebook. The majority of stuff I watch on TV is always pointing to tweets, hardly ever to comments or posts on Facebook.

    Lastly, how long does it take you to send/read tweets? 2-3 seconds? And you can tweet to hundreds of people within minutes due to its short form. How long does it take you to send/post/comment on people’s walls on Facebook? A lot longer.

    I’m not trying to disuade you from making a bigger focus on Facebook, I just think Twitter has a lot more upside as an open social network that can easily be searched for keywords and people discussing them.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I think technically Facebook has like 5 years head start on Twitter, but 2 years as a “public” network. Indeed, Twitter is much easier for search and discovery. But, does that make it a “social network”? How many of your Twitter followers do you actually know? Twitter is becoming the world’s shortest magazine, with Facebook providing a measure of personal interaction (and many more features) that Twitter is rapidly losing.

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

    I think yes Twitter is overrated. I think Facebook is overrated. Depends on who is doing the rating, when, how, what for and by which benchmarks and metrics. IME there are a lot of different ways people use their FB account (and/or professional page) and their Twitter account or accounts. Agreeing with some other comments and yours, it’s time to drop the ‘vs.’ and realize that they are both very different tools and while yes they should be part of an integrated overall plan, they’ll each have their own goals and objectives. FWIW.

  • http://twitter.com/WendyKenney Wendy Kenney

    I also wrote about this topic a few weeks ago on StartupNation.com. However, there’s one important fact about Twitter that we are missing out on. That is, while only 8% of the general population in the US uses Twitter, approximately 90% of the media uses Twitter. Here’s a blog post by Phoenix PR pro Joe Cockrell showing that from his research 99% of the media uses Twitter and how one tweet turned into national media coverage for his client. http://www.joeprguy.com/2011/04/14/tweet-to-local-reporter-turns-into-tv-story-seen-all-over-the-u-s/#more-2088

    So it really depends on what your goals are in using social media. Are you in it to sell, or are you in it to build visibility and credibility for your brand. If it’s the latter, then I recommend sticking with Twitter.

    Wendy Kenney

    Author of How to Build Buzz for Your Biz, Tap into the Power of Social Media, Publicity, and Relationship Marketing to Grow Your Business.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I totally agree with that Wendy. However, most companies aren’t using Twitter because the media is on Twitter. They are using it because it is believed to be this massive cultural imperative. The data suggests otherwise.

      • http://markfrisk.com Mark Frisk

        Aren’t many companies (at least the ones that have put some thought into their Twitter strategies) using Twitter to reach the people, including media folks, who have some influence over their target audiences?

  • http://www.thegoodnessgrows.com Mimi Meredith

    Loved the analogy of the fashion show to the mall. Thanks for this post Jay. It’s a great incentive to find ways to stay relevant in all these channels to meet people where they are, rather than acting on our own assumptions.

  • http://markfrisk.com Mark Frisk

    Well, yes, if all you care about are the sheer numbers, then of course Twitter is far, far behind Facebook et al.

    But haven’t we gotten beyond judging value on sheer aggregate numbers alone? It’s not the number of website visitors, or Facebook likers, or Twitter followers that really matter, is it? It’s the *right* visitors/likers/followers.

    I think Morgan Stewart’s second paragraph about nails it. Twitter has impact far beyond what one can assume from overall user numbers alone.

  • http://brittanyrubinstein.com/blog Brittany Rubinstein

    “Twitter appeals to a niche audience. ” That was basically going to be my response before I read it. While, you may be able to reach more people on Facebook, they are not nearly as valuable. Many people will “like” a Facebook Page or add you as a friend and never return, which obviously can happen on Twitter too, but in my experience, Twitter followers are more interested in building a one on one relationship with you.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    Not how many Jay, but who :)

  • http://patrickreyes.net Patrick Reyes

    Great post Jay. I completely agree with your takeaways. I had this reminder not too long ago when looking at creating check in locations for Foursquare and Gowalla. I’m a heavy user and the chart you referenced above indicates I’m in that 4%.

    It definitely makes me and should make marketers realize that each tool has a purpose. They just need to determine what the purpose is.

  • Anonymous

    Beware the Twitter mafia. Those that live and die by the tweet think it is the greatest communication tool ever. However, as the statistics point out, they are dwarfed by those that use Facebook, email and texting. Twitter is a valuable tool. But the audience is limited and the engagement is brief. It is a great resource for research and news. And, can be a powerful megaphone. But it is not for everyone. Twitter should certainly be a part of any marketing strategy but it is not the lead dog.

  • http://bit.ly/gVxUC2 Brian

    I’m still not so hot at using facebook effectively. The main reason for that failing is I don’t want to use facebook. I don’t mind creating business pages for various websites. But I just don’t like the personal pages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christinebuffaloe Christine Buffaloe

    Yes, I am convinced. Too much noise.

  • Sarah Tebbe

    I coudn’t agree more with this article and love the reference about the mall vs fashion show. I actually enjoy using Twitter as opposed to Facebook, but I have to be where everyone is which is Facebook.

    I find Twitter more interactive when it comes to following people, companies and getting news and advice.

  • http://www.donpower.com Don Power

    What seems to be missed in all the conversations about the power of Facebook is the incredibly cumbersome necessity to send a friend request to individuals you are interested in connecting with.

    Or if you are a business, the cumbersome necessity to have to go and find people to ‘Like’ your Page.

    With Twitter, you just connect with them. Done.

    I can’t get the ear of a senior manager at a company by sending an anonymous friend request or Liking the Business Page and posting to the Wall. But give me a well constructed Twitter profile and 1 @ reply and I can be talking the the CEO of a software company, or the owner of my local restaurant within minutes. THAT is power as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m not knocking Facebook at all – I think businesses should have a presence there…for all the folks who haven’t yet discovered Twitter, that is ;)

    Cheers!

    Don Power
    aka @donpower

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Interesting point Don. The requirement for persons to “accept” your friendship on Facebook is indeed a differentiator. It’s like the telphone vs. CB radio.

      • http://twitter.com/donpower Don Power

        As a marketing consultant (I say marketing consultant because as you know and talk about Jay, social media is only 1 aspect of marketing) I actually do a lot of pro bono “outreach” in my local community to show people the value of Twitter.

        I can show them how to use it to connect with prospects, keep an eye on the competition, and yes, make sales!

        All this can no doubt be done on Facebook too – so I don’t think it’s about choosing one INSTEAD of the other – it’s about choosing which tool works best for you. And for me and my clients, that tends to be Twitter more often than Facebook.

        Cheers!

        BTW – Looking forward to seeing you speak at Social Media Camp ’11 (#smcv11) in Victoria, BC in June. Hopefully, we’ll get to share a coffee and a chat in the green room – I’m on the docket too ;)

        – Don

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

          Looking forward to meeting you Don!

          • http://twitter.com/donpower Don Power

            Cheers! You too.

        • Jaclyn Mullen

          Don, you hit the nail on the head. The point of marketing is to connect, impact, help the customer feel vested in the brand which requires more than one medium. I always say online must meet offline. Use your online resources to schedule an offline event. Made that connection on Twitter? See if you can set up an in person meeting.

          I truly appreciate your comment and all that it points out! Now, I’m going to start following you and Jay on Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    I’m with it.

    I think Tom has a great point, it’s important for companies to challenge assumptions and do their own experimentation and research. It’s never the same for two people. There isn’t one way to use Twitter, or Facebook for that matter, there’s millions.

    On The Topic: it makes sense to me that Twitter is not as much of a big deal as people think it is, per the stats.

    Pretty much everyone in my life, excluding the world of radically awesome people I interact with on the net, has never even thought about using Twitter. They associate it with the “new generation,” and think you have to be some kind of “tech savvy” person to use it. It’s easy to be afraid when that’s the kind of mental representations you have of getting social.

    Ultimately, I think it depends on how creative you are with the use of Twitter. Be creative enough, you’ll get great results. Use it like QVC, you’re just like the other 95%!

    Great post.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeRussell82 Joe Russell

    Interesting write-up. I just had one comment in response to your takeaway #1 “1. I need to do more on Facebook, and not be as Twitter-heavy as I have been”

    I help to manage the Facebook fan page for the business that I work at and I’ve noticed that since Facebook has discretely changed what shows up on the news feed, we’re experiencing less interaction than we’ve had prior to the change. So while Facebook has a lot of users, I’m wondering how valuable it really is outside of staying in touch with friends.

    But I’m probably being a bit subjective because I’ve noticed that I’ve transitioned my personal usage to weigh more heavily towards Twitter these days. I find Twitter is the way to go when I’m looking for information, news, and entertainment. And while twitter comes at me a mile a minute, I find it much easier to weed through and find valuable info than on Facebook.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      You’re right in that the Facebook Edgerank formula curtails how much of what you publish there is seen – even by your friends. Big change in the FB best practices as a result.

  • http://twitter.com/cally14 Paul Callaghan

    Very interesting piece. I have found that Twitter works better for me in terms of picking up new clients and that Facebook is a way of staying in touch. I do see quite a lot of people who have their FB and T accounts linked so that similar stuff appears on both. Given the different demographics you point out this may well be a mistake.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this post, Jay.

    I’m a ghost writer for financial professionals, most of whose lives are heavily influenced by market moves, which are in turn moved by global news. This is why Twitter has been an invaluable marketing tool for me — I go to the proverbial watering hole.

    I also take long-distance motorcycle trips and my followers enjoy the quick updates and pictures they can access Twitter — or not. I think I’d wear FB out using it that way.

    Amy MccTobin makes other excellent points, with which I agree wholeheartedly.

    Keep up the good work!
    Tamela

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Thanks Tamela. Yes, I’m fascinated by the use of Twitter in financial services, including hedge funds making real-time moves based on Twitter sentiment. Amazing stuff!

  • http://www.socialreflections.com Shailesh

    Twitter is popular amongst niche groups. However for the larger population it will never be as useful. This is because a 140 character based communication system already exists and many are using it. It’s called texting. I’m surprised it’s not on the list of media usage. Communicating via small snippets to an uncertain audience is not very appealing to many of the people I talk to. You simply can not compare Twitter to Facebook. I personally think Twitter has peaked.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I love that you mentioned texting Shailesh. My daughter has a “phone” but has used it twice in a year.

  • Anonymous

    Overrated? I get into arguments with my friends all the time as to whether a musician like Jeff Buckley, or bands like Widespread Panic or the Grateful Dead are overrated compared to, say, the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. If by rated you mean followed, used, or listened to, then it’s more accurate to merely say “less popular.” If by rated you mean delivering less utility and fewer benefits than some would give them credit for, then I’ll argue that if twitter, or Jeff Buckely or IPA beer has passionate, loyal, raving fans, then you’re probably not taking an objective view of the rating. If by rated, you mean valued by venture capitalists and Wall Street, then you may be on to something since value is (theoretically) a function of future cash flows.

    For me, the attraction isn’t purely on the number of eyeballs. It’s on factors such as level of engagement, noticeability (for us old timers who used to authorize mass media purchases) and how I’m going to most effectively accomplish my business goals of generating prospects and converting browsers into buyers. If that’s best accomplished with a location-based service like Foursquare, I’ll rate what the list shows as the media with the lowest penetration as my highest performing media.

    Great data, and thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Spectacular comment Gary. Thanks very much. I love Jeff Buckley too.

  • Mark Cohen

    Interesting article!

    I would say that for massive reach to the general public, Twitter is overrated. The reason there is not the reach of other methods is that fewer people have Twitter accounts and use Twitter than other media. I would not use Twitter if I was looking for broad reach.

    However, if I knew my market was narrow and used Twitter, I would definitely use it to communicate my value.

    More importantly, Twitter is a great place to make connections within my industry that will help me down the road. This is the best use of Twitter.

    Mark Cohen
    markdanielcohen.wordpress.com
    [email protected]

  • http://www.interfaceaustralia.com Carol Jones

    JAY,

    Greetings from rural Australia.

    What an interesting post.

    I’m a Twitter Queen.

    And find it difficult to relate to Facebook.

    For several weeks now I’ve been amassing bits and pieces of data for my jigsaw puzzle as to why I excel on one and can’t relate to the other.

    And this is the last piece of the puzzle.

    And I’m grateful to Morgan Stewart for opening my eyes as to the difference between Facebook and Twitter.

    There is nothing about my business skills or my product range that appeals to the masses.

    I am the smart online boutique in a very narrow, niche market. I’m the opposite of the big chain stores that are in every shopping mall and have something for everyone.

    I like to keep my business very personal and prefer to stay in touch with my customers many times during the year via one-on-one emails and direct mail. They don’t need to stay in touch with me via Facebook. I go to them.

    My customers are mature, well educated men and women often found in senior positions in companies. As a rule, if they do use Facebook, it’s purely for personal reasons.

    On the other hand, nor do they follow me on Twitter.

    I love Twitter because it allows me the freedom to drop in and make friends with anybody I choose. Without their permission first.

    Because I love to engage, I’ve developed relationships which lead to friendship. And sometimes lead to referrals or enquiries. Down the track.

    And my Twitter friends are exactly as described. They are online influencers who love to engage and share new ideas.

    I’m also very good at the 140 byte conversation.

    I also limit the number of my Twitter friends so I’m not cluttered by trivia. My friends are hand picked and are the crème de la crème. I learn from them. And them from me.

    They also visit my blog. And my website. As I do theirs.

    I recently made the decision to keep a limited presence on Facebook but not to agonise over my inability to find something in common with this medium.

    I still question the hype about Facebook.

    No one has yet told me exactly what the majority of people do when they’re on Facebook. I suspect they’re playing online games. Chit chatting to their friends. Searching Facebook for long lost friends and classmates. And perhaps even looking for companionship.

    I have a deep seated feeling they’re on Google looking for the best power tools. Not searching Facebook.

    The hype about the numbers on Facebook reminds me of a marketing mistake I made early on in my business.

    I was invited to attend an event where I could showcase my product range face to face. I was seduced by the numbers. 90,000 regularly attend.

    With great excitement, I arrive early to set up my sophisticated, up market exhibit. And over the course of 2 days sell one product.

    Because.

    The exhibitors at this event were all down market. They were at the cheap end of the spectrum. Like the Dollar Shop.

    And 90,000 people did pour through those doors over two days.

    To BUY CHEAP.

    When over the top hype combined with dazzling numbers are now put before me, I always want to question the why and the what.

    And . . .

    Are these people really MY customers!

    It takes experience to question the hype and not be blinded by the numbers.

    Once again, Jay, many thanks for an enlightening post.

    Best wishes and take care,

    Carol

    Carol Jones
    Director
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover
    http://www.InterfaceAustralia.com

    Ironing Diva’s stories are at http://bit.ly/TheIroningDiva

    • http://twitter.com/TCoughlin Terence Coughlin

      Carol,

      What I took away from your well-thought comment was you have done all the right things one should do BEFORE jumping into marketing tactics. You examined your target market, identified their needs, where they congregate, and also considered your available resources at hand (your personal time), You sound like you are executing a sound strategy that is based on your research, rather than on conjecture, hope or hype.

      You are well ahead of the curve. Kudos.

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

        I agree 1000%. Kudos indeed.

  • Craig

    Agree with a lot of this, in particular “It’s imperative for companies to cut past the hype, do their own research, and be where their users are, not where the noise is.”

    The results of this poll mirror the results we got from our own weenie survey last year. We adjusted accordingly, based on our current clientelle. Perhaps a whole new crop of folks are frolicking on Twitter, perhaps not. We’ll start with the known and then foray into the unknown as time permits.

    What seems to be missing in many discussions is the desire to “find” people on Facebook and Twitter. It’s tempting (I’m guilty of it too) because we’re wired that way. But it’s my belief that it doesn’t work that way. People will find you. If they care. FB and Twitter can be ridiculously useful if we engage on terms other than our own.

    And hey- if your target audience is indeed active on Twitter, who cares that no one else is?

  • http://twitter.com/LacertaBio Lacerta Bio BD&L

    It’s very simple. Go where your audience congregates. If they’re on Facebook, go there. In my industry (pharmaceuticals), LinkedIn + Twitter are the places to be.

    I’m not sure I view Facebook as a B2B channel, but I defer to others for whom Facebook is an appropriate channel.

  • http://twitter.com/bsarich Brennan Sarich

    Twitter is overrated as a marketing tool because it can’t compete with community management the way fb can. People try and do things like twitter events/mass messages, etc., but twitter works great for ppl ‘at’ events, not for mass awareness. The whole point of a stream is to miss things and not mind. Facebook has multiple comm options, twitter has hashtags. =/

  • http://twitter.com/neonbinary Tony Sharp

    Well it sounds like more people need to use Twitter… I like Twitter a lot more than Facebook. There’s less “attention whoring”, or pressure for likes and feedback. I can sit back comfortably and share my thoughts when I feel like sharing them. And I don’t have to worry about navigating though a wall of privacy settings. The whole setup is straight forward, and pain free.

  • http://watch5.wordpress.com/ Judyseo111

    I think that results on our site is better than on others. And what you think of it?

  • Anonymous

    When a celeb twitters something interesting someone posts it on a website so the twitter actually has a much broader audience than might be calculated.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Very true. There’s been some research to suggest that Twitter is very much like a press release, and the audience is not necessarily the people who see it on Twitter per se, but the people who see it elsewhere. Ripple in a pond. Not sure that works for non-celebs to the same degree, however.

      • http://twitter.com/DavidMc068 David McMaster

        I don’t know about degree, but for my purposes, I think it does ripple. I’m forever sending info/links I get in tweets to others who probably don’t even use twitter, much less follow the same people I do.

  • Yatheepan

    Interesting facts. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/dustime8 george mcgrath

    To each his own. As twitter takes a little expertise in making a point in few words vs the ego driven self imposed wanted posters on facebook I see little comparison in reality trying to make a point about market share. It comes to quality vs quantity or mind over matter. When facebook started to profit by selling the personal information of it’s users to other marketeer’s it left me nauseated. It is not a social site but another marketing ploy. Most users have little sense of value if they had most would have given second thought before signing up. I am perfectly happy using twitter as a social outlet for thinkers, it is challanging and enlightening and mostly a joy to be involved. Finally, the only take away I have is your futile attempt to compare the incomaparable.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidMc068 David McMaster

    just a question – you quote research that 5% follow a brand on twitter. how many follow a brand on facebook? to use MS metaphor, what sort of mall are facebook users shopping in? is it retail or garage sale?

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      I think it’s in that report, but I can’t remember exactly. 20% I think?

  • Don Bartholomew

    Great post, Jay. I think the data also shines a light on the disparity between sign-ups and usage. The majority of people who sign-up for Twitter rarely or never use the service – the one tweet and done phenomenon… -Don B @Donbart

  • Don Bartholomew

    Great post, Jay. I think the data also shines a light on the disparity between sign-ups and usage. The majority of people who sign-up for Twitter rarely or never use the service – the one tweet and done phenomenon… -Don B @Donbart

  • Anonymous

    It’s interesting to note that Pew’s Twitter Research shows that only 1/2 of active Twitter users actually check other people’s updates more than once a month. That halves the population to 4% for actual engagement. Way overvalued.

  • http://buhlerworks.com/wordpress JEBworks

    Great insight. All too often the tools are just thrown into the mix based on numbers and/or hype. This just shows how nuanced a strategy has to be for effectiveness and impact depending on the business objectives.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    I feel social media is the effective way to connect with potential customers and when a choice given to me i would prefer Facebook over twitter which is easy to use compared to the latter one.

  • Anonymous

    very insightful, though twitter may not be so popular,but still i think its a good medium to engage your customers when timing is the main factor and not details…..(142 chars)..:)

  • http://www.cairril.com Cairril Mills

    I would like to see these data correlated with age groups. Has the massive growth in FB participation been amongst a certain demographic? Is Twitter more appropriate for younger generations — which could imply that it will eventually gain more market share?

  • http://twitter.com/RachelAtPPM Rachel Minihan

    When I talk with clients, I always present Twitter as a “networking forum.” It’s not so much a way to advertise as to meet people who you may not otherwise know. Once you’ve met and taken an interest there, you’ll likely move your relationship beyond that forum.

  • http://twitter.com/JuliaForsyth JuliaForsyth

    Very interesting post, having just had similar comments about the value of twitter for the organization, I’m very quick to respond that each of the channels have very different uses:

    My thoughts, and agree this is reflected in the metrics of usage:
    Facebook – is great for content ‘stickiness’ and web referrals for brands, and family comments/ photo sharing (hence the grandma effect)
    Twitter – fantastic tool for real-time customer interaction and support
    LinkedIn- the best tool for connecting with business contacts and sharing information between these contacts around a topic of interest.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with you here that Twitter is great for PR and customer relations. Still, no matter which social networking sites you use, there should only be one goal: Engage. This is still something that many of us are experimenting with, like how do you replicate trust and authenticity on the Social Web? Then, we hear people talking about ‘social capital’ like the next gen of social engagement.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with you here that Twitter is great for PR and customer relations. Still, no matter which social networking sites you use, there should only be one goal: Engage. This is still something that many of us are experimenting with, like how do you replicate trust and authenticity on the Social Web? Then, we hear people talking about ‘social capital’ like the next gen of social engagement.

  • http://marketing-mistress.com/JoinMyNewsletter.html Stephanie

    Thanks so much for the great information. I always love to read more about social media and marketing.
    I have my own site. I hope to offer tips as well. Thank you.
    http://marketing-mistress.com/JoinMyNewsletter.html

  • Andrew Somosi

    Jay,

    Great post. You inspired us to run research on the usefulness of Twitter as a B2B sales tool. We wanted to asses whether companies have a higher rate of Twitter adoption (vs. the 8% rate above). We also wanted to understand whether company tweets have useful intelligence for a B2B sales professional. Here is the link to the outcomes: http://bit.ly/i3FojH

    Best,

    Andrew Somosi
    Lattice Engines

  • K2colo

    In B2B I’ll take LinkedIn’s 9% over FB 51% any day

  • K2colo

    In B2B I’ll take LinkedIn’s 9% over FB 51% any day

  • http://twitter.com/davergallant Dave Gallant

    I’ve been “feeling” this way about Twitter for sometime now, albeit I’ve never had access to the numbers to substantiate that feeling.

    I’ve always seen Facebook as a more of a viable medium for engagement, simply because it is less time sensitive than Twitter (not to be misunderstood, I do believe Facebook is time sensitive). Yet I do believe Twitter has it’s place. It all depends on the client.

    Dave
    @davergallant

  • http://www.CyberDivaVA.com Ana Lucia Novak

    Very interesting insight. These platforms continue to evolve

  • http://ariherzog.com Ari Herzog

    Uhh, Jay, if the metric is someone over the age of 12, is it any surprise? The average age on Twitter is more than 3 times that age.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Based on sample distribution by age range, even among 25+ you’re looking at a usage rate for Twitter in the low double digits. Hardly a massive difference.

  • http://haipincua.wordpress.com Haipin Cua

    Hello, I think Twitter is yet to be used “correctly.” Personally, using tools like Flipbook and following the right people, Twitter can be the best source for the latest and greatest in just about any topic.

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    Very Surprizing. MySpace more popular than Twitter? Wow. I love Twitter over facebook. When people are forced to communicate in 140 characters or less they are way more succinct.

  • Ernie Reno

    Jay, great piece. I really enjoyed it. Sincerely, Ernie Reno ([email protected]).

  • http://solomonsucceeds.blogspot.com/ Solomon Garner

    @jasonbaer:disqus First of all Mr. Baer, I need to point out that some might find the title of this post just plain offensive (including me).  Even if you’re right about Twitter not being very significant for businesses, the title of the post is nasty.

    Second, I want to point out something about that activities list at the top.  Sure you’re going to hear about Twitter a lot even though, say, watching Hulu is more widespread.  Because a company or radio station isn’t going to say check us out on Facebook and Hulu.  Check our profile out on Hulu!  Stay up-to-date about stuff that’s happening with us by going to our profile on Hulu.  You get my point.

    Honestly, if a company’s using Facebook, it’s hardly any work to also use Twitter.  They can use HootSuite or one of its competitors to post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time.  And they can open up another tab, so that when they’re checking responses from fans on Facebook, they can also be checking responses from fans on Twitter; not that hard I don’t think.

    And finally, I have a comment about this:

    “All too frequently, Twitter and Facebook are chained together strategically and tactically, as if they are two sides of the same coin. They are very clearly not, as the size of the participating audiences, and expectations and behaviors of those audiences differ dramatically.”

    Um… can you tell me exactly what expectations and what behaviors differ dramatically?

    Thanks for listening.

  • http://www.reliablenetworks.co.uk/Blog stevemilosh

    Not just that twitter is massively overrated, but it’s also full of spammers and scamers, who are trying to promote and sell their stuff.

  • letstalkandchat

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  • ryancox

    Very well written and interesting post Jay. It’s extremely interesting data points. Kind of blew me away actually — seems I need to rethink some things. You’ve got a bunch of much longer posts to respond to. Cheers.

  • mik_w_ross

    @solomon garner: Did you read through your post?  Your arguments make no valid point.  I will be brief, the title is interesting and caused both you and I to click on it, therefore it is not offensive, it is effective.  Second to your last question, facebook audiences expect to connect with friends to share pictures and funny stories.  They want to reconnect and extend the depth of personal relationships with new and old friends.  Twitter users want the gossip, the dirt, the most “in” thing.  Hence why it is referred to as “trending” it is just a shallow update on the “trend” of the moment.   

  • http://twitter.com/twainmark191 Mark Twain

    Awesome information in regards to social media marketing. You can use socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik for SocialMedia to increase your fans.

  • Omar

    Twitter is so massively overrated & hyped it all seems a bit fake & forced. Feels like it’s being forced down the throat of people, some who may hesitantly & reluctantly join the bandwagon to be left disappointed. I have across people who have twitter accounts but don’t really use them.

  • http://blog.internetdr.com/ internetdoctor

    Great article with great supporting data. After reading a significant number of responses there are those who honestly feel Twitter is this wonderful magical place…and for those people I am sure on some level it is. I personally like Twitter, but of all the social platforms, it is truly not all that social especially when look at profiles with over 1000 followers (see Dan Zarrella stats). Even Jack Dorsey has stated that Twitter is really not all that social.

    Twitter has great value if you already have some level of fame or celebrity status, because you will already have the “right” following (although if you do your homework you will find that nearly half of these “followers” for the very famous are either fake or inactive accounts). This becomes then a time hole for those that want to build a following of the right people. When I see people practice the simple law of reciprocity (i.e. follow to get followed) and they are supposedly following thousands of people in order to get thousands of followers, we all know that it is simply not possible to truly follow 5000 people much less 1000 people, even 100 people is not really possible to actually “follow”. No one realistically has that kind of time to read every tweet from 100 different people (unless you have no job, no life, or this is your job and your life). To get the right followers then becomes quite the “time suck”, if you want to do it right and use it correctly. Building the right following organically, requires a great deal of time, commitment, and consistency, commodities that many people just do not have.

    I do think for the small business who is new to social media in general Twitter is the weakest of all the platforms especially when it comes to connecting with the “right” people, get followed by the “influencers”, and continue to produce a message that has value on a consistent basis. It is just not as easy as some people would have you to believe.

    I think for those of us that have used Twitter from it’s beginnings certainly find some value in it. However, I have yet to see any empirical research (emphasis on empirical) that truly demonstrates consistent financial value. This does not mean it does not have it’s purpose, or some qualitative value, or that there are those who have anecdotal (non empirical) evidence that it works for them.

    As much as I like it, and I do believe it gives me a voice and place, I do believe that to those that are relatively new or uncertain about social media…the data does not lie and your conclusions are accurate…it is “massively overrated”.

  • Peter Frost

    Surely Jay, Twitter is not social media. it’s a great permission-based info and promo tool to relevant users. Facebook is more close community social network?