Interactions on Facebook vs. Twitter

I've been on Facebook and Twitter for years and have written some six thousand tweets and countless (because they're not counted) Facebook updates. I typically get on social networks soon after they're available and do the same with digital gadgets. I have personal Facebook and Twitter accounts and IBM Design Facebook and Twitter accounts as well (the company Facebook account is handled by a member of my team, Scott Lewis). The follower/friend counts are as follows: Facebook personal account 350, Facebook company account 1,548, Twitter personal account 1,367, and Twitter company account 13,748. 

I've been noticing a change in my use and enjoyment of these two social networking systems over the past few months. I tend to spend most of my social networking time on Facebook these days and only occassionally on Twitter. One of the reasons for preferring Facebook is the amount of interaction I typically have as well as the richness of content which includes photographs and videos. I also find that the interaction is richer with "likes" as well as comments. The fact that the discussion thread stays together and is visible is also key as is the fact that the discussion tends to go on for days and sometimes weeks. In contrast, replies on Twitter aren't kept together or visible, and then to only last for an hour or two. I find that Twitter is better at announcing things and sharing links which then get retweeted by others. The retweets are gratifying but not quite the same as a substantive conversation. Don't get me wrong, I have had good interactions on Twitter on both my IBM Design company account as well as on my personal one. There are people on Twitter whom I have great conversations with and while I enjoy those conversations, they aren't as frequent, deep, or lengthly as they are on Facebook.

I wanted to test my impression that I have more interactions on Facebook compared to Twitter so I conducted a mini experiment. I posted the following on Facebook, "Karel Vredenburg is conducting an experiment comparing Facebook and Twitter to see which has the most interaction. Let's see how many likes this update can generate. The same request will be made on Twitter. Thanks!" and the same, albeit slightly shortened text due to the 140 character limit was posted on Twitter, "I'm conducting an experiment comparing Facebook & Twitter to see which has the most interaction. Let's see how many replies we can generate." The results were that the update on Facebook generated 19 likes and the post on Twitter yielded 2 replies. When I thanked the 2 people on Twitter who replied, that led to three more replies from one of my Twitter followers. A post just prior to this about the same topic yielded 3 likes and 5 comments from different people on Facebook but no activity at all on Twitter.

I should point out that this is based on my own experience alone and likely also has something to do with the composition of friends and followers I have on the two systems. My Facebook friends are comprised of actual friends, family, colleagues, and a few listeners of my Life Habits podcast series. My personal Twitter account has a few friends and colleagues as followers but the remainder are people who linked to me but whom I really don't know at all outside of Twitter. The company accounts on Facebook and Twitter are naturally made up of virtually all people I don't know at all outside of these systems. However, that doesn't mean there isn't good interaction with those accounts, just that the interaction is less frequent per follower. I should mention that I've also been on Google's Buzz which did support threaded conversations and I'm also on LinkedIn with its update function. Neither of these systems has kept my interest in terms of interactions.

Of course all users will have a different experience with these systems because there are so many variables that can differ for any two people. I thought it interesting to hear the views of netcaster Leo Laporte on this topic. He has no use for Facebook other than being aware of its features in order to report on them and finds greater value in Twitter and, in fact, also preferred Google's Buzz but no longer uses that system. 

I'd appreciate hearing about your experiences on these two social networking systems using the commenting system of this site. Interestingly, when I post links to my blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, I usually get comments within Facebook on the link rather than here on the blog.