Twitter vs. Facebook: The Social Media Popularity Contest

April
20
2009

by

Both Twitter and Facebook have been gaining popularity with internet users over the last 12 months.  While their growth rate is phenomenal, the question is whether their magnetism will be a fleeting presence or a permanent fixture with the online community.

By digging into Google Insights for Search, I spotted a few interesting quirks between these two search queries. 

  • Facebook appears to have a more mainstream and global appeal
  • Google categorizes these two search queries differently
  • Related search queries vary radically

Although several approximations are employed to arrive at this data, Google’s tool is awesome for providing insights into “broad search patterns”.  The popularity of search queries “facebook” and “twitter” over the last 12 months is illustrated below. 


Google Insights – All Categories

When comparing the popularity of these single word queries against all other queries during the same timeframe, Facebook appears to be the clear winner.  Twitter shows a slight bump in late 2008 but nothing close to the awareness of Facebook.  Over time, Facebook has steadily increased in overall popularity with an impressive growth rate over Q1 of 2009. 

In reviewing “Regional Interest” for the 2 queries, Facebook seemed to have a wider appeal globally.   


Note that Twitter does not index well when compared to the popularity of Facebook.  The United States does not even make the list of top 10 regions for Facebook; however it is #2 on the list for Twitter. 

A deeper dive into specific categories (brand new feature) lets us look at the growth rate of each search query.  Google suggests the most popular category classifications based on the keyword(s) you are researching in Google Insights. 

To my surprise, Google suggested “Online Communities” as the top category for Facebook, but “Telecommunications” as the top category for Twitter.  Aren’t they BOTH Online Communities AND Communication tools?  Taking several steps back and looking at the core components of each channel, the categorization logic makes perfect sense.

While you can certainly communicate and socialize on both networks, each has distinct differences that make a direct comparison difficult if not impossible to make.  We are not comparing apples to apples.  Facebook looks like more of a portal and has a social/personal feel….people go there to “connect” with their friends and family, make new friends, socialize, etc.  Twitter looks clean and simple and has a research/news characteristic. 

Twitter has a user base of over 1,000,000 (company will not disclose actual numbers), in comparison to Facebook’s recent 200 million mark. Regardless of the number of users, both networks’ growth has been explosive over the last two years.

New features and applications, privacy policies, monetization tactics, and more will dictate the user base for these networks as well as others in the space.  Users (zealots) are going to be loyal to 1 primary channel….but there is also a ton of crossover since each network offers distinguishing qualities.  Only time will tell which will be THE 800 Pound Gorilla of the space.  Who knows?  It could even be MySpace.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.