The Twitterization of Facebook

March 16, 2009 by  

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Kicking & Screaming
: It seems like Facebook is going
to compete with Twitter whether it’s 100’s of millions of
users want it or not!

@joelcomm: 8 million Twitter users is nothing compared to 160 million Facebook users. Yes, it’s big. But you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.

Facebook has made some curious moves lately:

– Facebook homepage redesigned with statuses front & center.
– Facebook opening up option to display profiles publicly.

Twitter: The Little Site that Could

Why are they doing this? Answer: Twitter. Joel Comm calls it “the water cooler of the 21st century.” Gary Vaynerchuck calls it “the little site that could.” Many have viewed these moves as a way for Facebook to compete with Twitter. With Twitter on the rise, it seems like an obvious and necessary move for Facebook. The two sites are very similar and have emerged as the two heavy hitters in the social media landscape. But is it really necessary for Facebook to become Twitter?

Integrating Facebook & Twitter

Many Twitter users have been looking for ways to integrate the two for a long time. Services like and Twitter’s own Facebook app have been used to sync across both networks. More recently, third party Twitter apps like Seesmic (Twhirl) and the newest TweetDeck release have added Facebook integration. Generally, Twitter users don’t have issues with using both!

I guess there are some Twitter loyalists out there:

@johnmorgan: Best way for Facebook to be more like twitter? Stop sucking.

Even Demi Moore prefers Tweeting:

@mrskutcher:Facebook is cool but Twitter is the sh*t!

A friend of mine, Jordan Brown, says that, “LinkedIn is for people that I’ve worked with. Facebook is for people I knew in school and growing up. Twitter is for people that I want to know.” That’s how I use it. I don’t necessarily think Facebook needs to make a play at edging out Twitter.

The Shiny New Toy

The problem I see is with Facebook users. Facebook is a great place to connect, to share and to keep up. For some users, Facebook is all they use: no more emailing, no more blogging, no more instant messaging outside of it! Even with all that functionality being overwhelming for some, it’s been a winning formula and Facebook has grown to 160+ million users. 

In comes Twitter, with its explosion of users, both everyday and celebrity. It’s the newest, shiniest toy for many people.

Jimmy Fallon is trying to get one of his audience members followers than Barack Obama Twitter account.

Ellen Degeneres overtook Levar Burton and now has her sights on MC Hammer.

But there’s a problem assuming everyone wants the same thing. Facebook serves a certain need and it has done it very well. Is it worth disenchanting Facebook’s established user-base to edge out Twitter? I’ve already seen numerous complaints about the new design. Just search for “keep the old design” in Facebook and look how many Facebook groups there are!

Here are some questions I’ve been asking:

Is Facebook looking to capitalize on an “inevitable” collapse of the revenue-less Twitter?

Will Facebook users warm to the new functionality or will there be another exodus (like the one over the recently discarded TOS revison)?

What do you think?

Here’s a great post on the same idea by Rachel Levy: Does Facebook have Twitter-envy?

Photo by hyperscholar


4 Responses to “The Twitterization of Facebook”

  1. Rachel Levy on March 16th, 2009 11:24 pm

    Funny how 2 people take the same issue and think about it in 2 very different ways! I just wrote a post on this also, but from a different perspective:

    Your point: “Is it worth disenchanting Facebook’s established user-base to edge out Twitter?” is a great one… Trying to compete with Twitter can alienate Facebook’s loyal customers.

    I have also seen a lot of complaints about the new design, but haven’t seen the anti-design groups yet! I’ll have to check that out.

    Great post! Thanks.

    -Rachel Levy (@bostonmarketer)

  2. Kikolani on April 3rd, 2009 6:58 pm

    I think that Facebook is trying to appeal to the people who were migrating for Twitter for it’s simplistic, 140 character status updates and no more to interact with my friends approach. Of course, what they really should have done is polled their users, or given everyone the option to switch back to the old homepage instead.

    ~ Kristi

    Kikolanis last blog post..Fetching Friday – Resources Mashup, PageRank Updates

  3. Ryan on April 4th, 2009 12:22 pm

    @Kikolani That’s an interesting perspective, that it was a move to make Facebook more simplistic. Unfortunately, I think that they made it less simplistic, at least for those people that had gotten used to how it was.

  4. Sports Fan 4 on May 8th, 2009 8:13 pm

    The way I see it, facebook is a toy. Linkedin is a tool for networking, while Twitter is a tool for communicating. But the take away point is that facebook isn’t really a tool but the powers that be are trying to market it as such. But with all the random quizzes and other crap floating around facebook I find it tough to view it as a useful tool. Instead, I use to stay in touch with friends from school and waste time here and there. But for business purposes I stick to linkedin and twitter.

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