Monthly Archives: February 2012

Twitter vs. Facebook: Which One Would YOU Give Up?

Yesterday, for my daily #1004question, I asked my Twitter followers:

If you had to give up Twitter or Facebook, which one could you live without?

The results surprised me.

Of the 26 people who responded on Twitter:

  • 20 said they’d give up Facebook.
  • 3 said they’d give up Twitter.
  • 3 said they’d give up both.

So… that’s interesting.  And incredibly lopsided.  I figured the results would be mixed, with a slight favoritism shown for one service over the other… but not a 7 to 1 differential.

(By that rationale, maybe Twitter is the service that should have filed for a $5 billion IPO last week, not Facebook…)

But wait…

What if my Twitter audience is biased towards Twitter simply because they’re on Twitter?

Curious to see if Twitter was really that much more beloved of a service than Facebook, I asked the same question on Facebook.  And, of the 11 people who responded on Facebook:

  • 8 said they’d give up Twitter.
  • 2 said they’d give up Facebook.
  • 1 said they’d give up both.

Or, in other words…

  • 77% of Twitter respondents said they’d prefer to give up Facebook.
  • 73% of Facebook respondents said they’d prefer to give up Twitter.

Granted, these are small sample sizes, so it’s impossible to draw sweeping conclusions.  But in both cases, the trend seems pretty consistent: people tend to love the service they’re on more than the service they’re not on at the moment.

But notice something about the response data:

  • I have 6300 Twitter followers, and 26 of them responded to this question.
  • I have 402 Facebook followers, and 11 of them responded.*

That’s means only 0.4% of my Twitter followers responded to me (even though I asked twice), versus 2.7% of my Facebook friends responding to me (even though I only asked once).  You can chalk that up to Facebook being a far more efficient way to communicate among a smaller group of people, or having a better information-sharing design, but either way you slice it, Facebook was 7 times more effective in generating a response to this question, even though the sampling pool was smaller to begin with.

For me, the real interesting info is the reasons why people would quit each service.

The people who say they’d prefer to quit Facebook said things like…

  • “Twitter gives you the unexpected”
  • “Twitter, for me, is about having reach.”
  • “Twitter has a good 30 IQ points on Facebook.”
  • “There are other ways to see photos of people, which is why I use FB at all.”
  • “Quality of connections I made on Twitter are far, far better than on FB.”
  • “Some people I’m ‘friends’ with on FB are [only] out of obligation.”
  • “Facebook is a cesspool, the Mos Eisley of social media.”

… whereas the people who say they’d prefer to quit Twitter said things like…

  • “I’ve had more relationships built via FB than Twitter.”
  • “Too many IRL friends here on Facebook to walk away.”
  • “Most of my Twitter followers really add nothing to my business.”
  • “The quality of conversation is much better on FB; Twitter is nothing more than a time-suck.”

All of which means that the Twitter lovers think they find smarter and more interesting / relevant conversations on Twitter, while the Facebook lovers believe the exact same thing about Facebook.

Or, as my friend Anthony summarized it from the available responses:

“If I leave Twitter, I’ll miss something!” vs. “If I leave Facebook, I’ll be missed!”

Ultimately, it seems that your love of each service boils down to your reason for using it: do you yearn to learn, or ache to be loved?

(And, how does this affect the way companies may want to tailor their social marketing to each audience?  Should they be more informative on Twitter but more emotional on Facebook, perhaps?  And do either of those options seem like an unwanted invasion of your online experience?)

Maybe in five years someone will have done a comprehensive study that proves Twitter is from Mars and Facebook is from Venus.  Or vice versa.  Or maybe both of these services will cease to exist in five years, and we’ll all be anachronistically calling each other on rotary phones to meet for drinks.

Either way, one thing’s certain: no matter what series of tubes we use to talk to each other, we’re all still desperate for ever more meaningful conversations.

And hugs.

* Actually, 13 of my Facebook friends responded to this question, not 11.  But my friend Sarah only responded to say “If you take away Pinterest, I’ll kick you,” to which another friend added, “I’d take away Pinterest just to watch Sarah kick you.”  So, Pinterest investors, take note: you, too, are well on your way to your own $5 billion IPO someday… one withdrawal-fueled shin-kick at a time.

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The Real Reason Pinterest Is So Popular

I’m not an active Pinterest user, but its popularity at this precise moment is undeniable.  (If you’ve never used Pinterest either, here’s one gent’s handy guide on what to expect from your first time using Pinterest.)

At its most basic, Pinterest is visual bookmarking, in a “Delicious-meets-Tumblr” sense.  You see something you like online, and you “pin” it to your Pinterest board, which eventually comes to resemble a virtual bulletin board of “found oddities,” or whatever else you happen to think is worth sharing.

And apparently, what people really like sharing is pictures of things they want to buy.

This makes Pinterest seem like a haven for materialistic desperadoes living out their consumerist dreams.  But why is a service whose chief value proposition amounts to “Hey, look at all this shit I can’t afford BUT WANT SO MUCH!!!” becoming so popular?

I think it’s because we all subconsciously miss the mall.

My Parents Are Picking Me Up Outside J. C. Penney at 5

For the children of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, commercialism is irrevocably burned into our brains.

From the time we were old enough to watch TV, we’ve been watching cartoons about toys and buying toys about cartoons.  Then, when we reached a certain age (somewhere between 13 and 18), our Saturday mornings evolved, and instead of vegetating in front of a TV set, we were finally set free… to go vegetate at the mall.

I remember weekend after weekend of my parents dropping me off at the (famously gun-shaped) Millcreek Mall in Erie, PA (my hometown), around 10 or 11 most Saturday mornings, where I’d spend all day hanging out with friends in video game arcades, eating fast food and window shopping for all the cool shit I couldn’t afford.

To get to all those “cool” stores (like Spencer’s and Record Den), we had to walk past all the stores we didn’t care about at the time but which I now find myself looking back on fondly 20 years later, like mental landmarks from my childhood.  (I wonder whatever happened to all the college-aged dudes I saw shopping at Chess King.  At the time, I wondered what the right age was to start shopping there.  As it turned out, that answer was “never.”)

Little did we know then that the Internet would render malls nearly obsolete by the time we were finally old enough to buy something at Dahlkemper’s or Mace Electronics (if those stores had still existed).

And while we still have malls today, their vibe has evolved from a collection of mostly-local chains and stand-alone stores into a cookie-cutter collection of national chains.  (Have you been in a mall lately that didn’t have an American Eagle, GAP, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s and Bath & Body Works?)  Gone are the peculiarities of the malls we grew up with, and in.

And that’s one reason why I think Pinterest is so popular: it lets each user create a modern mall of her / his dreams, from scratch.  It turns each of us into a retail executive, living out our purchase-curation fantasies and allowing us to show off our mercantile taste to the world in a way that shopping in the same stores that everyone else shops in can’t.

Is this a good thing?  Maybe not from a productivity standpoint.  But then again, some people wonder if Pinterest can satisfy the urge to impulse buy, which actually could be productive from a money-saving point of view.

And, if nothing else, at least all your Pinterest friends can see what awesome taste you have (or don’t).  And that’s as true today as it was when you were sporting your high-top fades and hairsprayed poof-mullets outside Orange Julius all those many years ago.

Now, if only Pinterest had a video arcade…

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