Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Facebook: the new Twitter?

So long as you’re not one of the 120 million worldwide users that Facebook has, you’ll have noticed a distinct shift in how the social networking site operates. In its most recent update the move has been made to create a very Twitter-like environment. Status updates are now king, and rule over everything else.

While no functionality has dropped off, everything else does feel like it’s been pushed slightly sideways. Friend requests and Group invites are now small and inconspicuous, sitting above your ‘feed’, out of harms way. New groups that your friends join, events that friends are going to, and friend’s birthdays all run down a single column space on the right hand side of the page. This is not the Facebook that people were using.

But why? Is Twitter such a threat THAT Facebook needs to change it’s entire user interaction?

Without doubt celebrity endorsement has to be looked on as an initial key driving force. This year has seen Twitter’s number rocket, with many people now using the site to keep up to date with all their favourite bands, tv personalities, comedians and movie stars. The Facebook status update fell by the wayside.

Of course this had the direct effect of boasting Twitter’s site stats. In February alone Twitter had 7 million unique visits, up 1,382% from a year ago (according to Nielsen NetView). But it’s not just the numbers, it’s who these numbers are. 42%n of Tweeters are between 35 and 49 years old.

So first Facebook offered to buy Twitter. An offer was made of $500 million offer for the microblog network. The offer was not taken.

Facebook did however offer one very obvious advantage over Twitter. When you Tweet, your comments are open to the world for all to see (not always advantageous) whereas on Facebook you can select who can view your profile and, more importantly, any conversation that a comment generates is kept altogether in one place. An extremely handy feature when you want to see the whole conversation, and something which is very difficult on Twitter.

So is this best of both worlds, or a lousy hybrid that falls down entirely? Personally I like the new Facebook. I have no issue finding everything that has always been there and I enjoy the Twitter-esque functionality it now offers. Win win in my books.


Anonymous said...

well orkut is not too far behind

Christian Hughes said...

Very true. I find myself wondering more about what Twitter will do. Surely they need to move beyond simple Microblogging with the addition on new services?