When multiple options exist in a product niche it is inevitable that people will begin to pick sides (e.g. Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs Chevy, PC vs Mac, etc). When it comes to social networking Facebook and Twitter are currently competing.
I have accounts with both sites. Here is a comparison of the services I’ve experienced with each.
I’m not going to be subtle about this, I much prefer Facebook to Twitter when it comes to social networking. Facebook provides a very clean template. Profile pages are relatively simple and neat looking, especially when compared to the design chaos that was is (I forgot it was still active) present in MySpace. Every time the Facebook design team tweaks any aspect of the site people will complain (and create groups protesting the redesign), yet if you look back the changes are almost always for the better.
Facebook has an excellent rss feed that allows you to process the updates of friends very quickly. Photo sharing is easy, and privacy settings are simple to set up. When exchanging messages with someone the process can be public or private, and it is easy to refer to previous messages since the history of communication can be pulled up. The author of a post or message is always clear.
Finally, I am very impressed by the small amount of spam that is present on Facebook. Hostile spam is rare, and the spam of friends (thanks games, quizzes, and groups) can be blocked effectively.
I use Twitter primarily as an rss feed and to follow a few specific writers. At times it alerts me to breaking news, but that is rare. The “news” trending on Twitter seems to be a hoax as often as it is genuine. Plus, how seriously can you take any website that is usually filled with comments about Justin Bieber?
The 140 character constraint results in awkward phrases, abbreviations, and atrocious grammar. Some users string multiple posts together to make one thought, which is annoying. The language of Twitter is not always clear, for the tweet, retweet, and reply format is confusing. To make this even more frustrating, communication that happens over time feels very disjointed because a clear history of the conversation is not present.
Additionally, most people post shortened links on twitter because of the character constraint. This results in an extra step to confirm the link is not malicious. And speaking of malicious, I am frequently followed by barely dressed women. I have no problem being desired by attractive women, it’s just that these particular women are not women at all, they are spam bots. So this means every time one of them starts following me I need to go through the blocking process.
Oh, and don’t forget the Fail Whale.
After all these negatives you might wonder why I continue to use Twitter. I really like using it as an rss feed, and I like it’s a good way to hear random thoughts from Bill Simmons, Ken Tremendous, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, and Jon Acuff. I also follow many of the Phillies beat writers, so I am able to get reliable information about the team before it is available anywhere else.
I already voiced my preference for Facebook over Twitter, but Twitter does provide enough valued services to me that I plan to keep my account. In my opinion Facebook facilitates better communication, offers a cleaner and neater template, contains more people, and is more reliable than Twitter.
What are your thoughts on Facebook vs Twitter?