Tonight, over dinner in the real world, I got into a debate about which social media platform is better: Facebook or Twitter. It’s kind of like picking a college football team, once you’re loyal nothing and no one is going to shake you loose. But it is also a false dichotomy.
Who the hell cares?
The reality is that both tools are useful for some things. Twitter is clearly better at casting a wide net and connecting on specific topics or subjects with a wide group of people, some you know, but most you don’t. Facebook is better at limiting connection to people that you know or that know the people that you know. Both have mechanisms for allowing individuals to communicate privately with you as an alternative to maintaining your own contact list of cell phone numbers and emails.
I like Facebook, probably because I am a relationship junkie. I don’t care all that much about what some stranger thinks about a viral hashtag, but I do care what the boy I had a crush on in 7th grade pre-algebra did with his daughters over the weekend. I don’t want to see what crisis of the day is trending, but I do want to see the pictures of my daughter’s friends and my alumni peers from my hometown homecoming. I want to see what people I care about think about the world as it stands, even if what they say isn’t what I would say.
The person I was talking to argues, and I agree, that Twitter is more timely. That the news finds Twitter and comes to light there faster than anywhere else. He argued that while he might enjoy seeing my posts, having to argue points with people who are my friends (that he doesn’t know) would be tedious. And, the day-in day-out banal ramblings of what someone ate for breakfast or what their kid was doing or a repost of political diatribe was not only annoying it was grounds for leaving all together. The only reason he logged on, he said, was to wish people Happy Birthday.
(No argument from me, by the way. The Birthday stuff is the single best thing on Facebook.)
I’m not sure, though, that being right is necessary in this case. After all, I have accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Pinterest. Yes, Facebook is the tool most suited to the things I do and how I act in social media, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only tool in my toolkit. In fact, my expansion into WordPress (as my blog tool) is probably every bit as important to me as Facebook. I create in WordPress, I only market my posts in Facebook. Could I market them in Twitter? I guess so. But how? No one follows me there and I’m not sure what hashtag I could use to get people who don’t know me in real-life to give me a try.
Best and right are words suited to a scarce resource model, and I think there is more than enough demand to support multiple technology formats. In fact, the people who will become thought leaders in social media will likely be those who have no loyalties to any platform. They will be the ones who jump in early, figure out how to connect their digital personas seamlessly and become relevant everywhere. They will ask the big deep question of why and not what.
- Why: Why is this a good tool? Why do people go there? Why should I engage here?
- What: What does it do? What should I say? What is the use case?
So, I’m going to dig deeper. I am going to look for the whys around Twitter and be more engaged in figuring out the why for me. Maybe it is just a personal proclivity versus a best tool dialogue. Maybe I need to be more open and more flexible. Maybe I need to figure out why I don’t get the why of Twitter.
Now, hand me that hammer. I have a post to create.