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April 20 2009

Twitter vs. Facebook: The Social Media Popularity Contest

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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.

April 16 2009

How Myspace Can Keep Up

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Twitter’s on the rise, Facebook has reached 200 million users, and Myspace continues to try and keep up. The quick user interaction via Twitter and Facebook rapidly leaves Myspace trailing. But when it comes down to social media marketing, Myspace is still at the top. After partnering with Google and recent upgrades of Myspace Mobile, Myspace aims to accommodate today’s swift social network users, but they’re still playing catch-up.

Everyone’s Tweeting. Companies are promoting themselves, while big corporations use Twitter as a huge instant survey on what their consumers think. The volume is there in terms of traffic for advertising but are Twitter users planning to click on ads while tweeting? The majority of Twitter updates are from done directly from cell phones. Consequently, the vast amounts of tweeters aren’t viewing a web page. Phone updates takes users away from websites and clicking onto other webpages. Continuous Twitter updates and one on one relationships can be overwhelming for users; especially those who are used to the web page experience adopted from the Myspace world of social networking. Single webpages may be the saving grace for Myspace.

Facebook has been the biggest influence for Myspace advancements. If it wasn’t for Facebook and its application updates, some Myspace users may not have lasted as long as they have. It doesn’t seem to matter what applications Myspace migrates from Facebook, because Facebook still takes the lead with reaching 200 million users who are escalating in age, aside from their college users; but these 200 million users are hesitant to click on ads. Facebook’s user increase hasn’t converted into major advertising revenues. Facebook experienced a fifty percent decrease in the amount of users that clicked on ads from 2007 to 2008. Advertisers are just beginning to grasp the user behavior of Facebook and are shifting their focus on branding as a result.

Myspace does stand alone on one thing that has been taken lightly; the Self Service advertising platform that they offer users. SelfServe by MySpace is for display ads on profile pages. Google has a partnership agreement with Myspace which allows advertisers in Google to create ads for Myspace. This agreement had no influence on Myspace’s ad service platform which is similar to Google Adwords. However MySpace platform is geared toward building display ads, not text ads. This similar ad arrangement conveys the same user experience with ads as they do within the Google Adwords search engine. Myspace might be on to something, particularly given that they exclusively use this ad platform layout.

In order for Myspace to stay relevant in social media, it has to be less time consuming. Viewing photo albums and having to comment individually on your friend’s page will begin to push away users who have become accustomed to the quick phone updates and interactions available through Twitter and Facebook. Myspace is dominant in social media advertising, but in order to remain prevalent, the trend of user interaction has to be considered. Users want quick and that’s what Twitter gives them.

April 14 2009

Your Grandma is Getting Social!

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With all due respect, you pretty much have to be living under a rock if you have not at least heard of one or more of the following Social Media sites:  Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. There’s also Friendster, Multiply, etc. etc. The list is endless.

Social Media is literally all around us. Your elementary school boyfriend (or girlfriend) wants to be your friend on Facebook. You can log on to check your Yoga studio’s schedule, even view your kid’s baseball practice updates. The talk show host/comedian, Ellen Degeneres, is asking you to “follow her” on Twitter and became a “fan” of her Facebook page to win exclusive prizes. Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva recently got into trouble for Tweeting (making a post in Twitter) during half time of a tie game. Need I say more?

Social Media has not only caught the attention of celebrities, NBA stars, tweens, teens, twenty, thirty and forty something’s; even Senior Citizens have taken notice. That’s right; your very own grandma is getting social!

OK, so she may not be sending you a friend request on Facebook or asking you to follow her on Twitter, but she could very well be on sites specifically tailored for seniors and baby boomers alike. These channels are an easy way for seniors to be active participants in the online community without feeling like they do not belong there.

Some of these sites include: Genkvetch, Seniorocity, ThirdAge, Eons and SeniorPeopleMeet. Genkvetch just enjoyed some nice PR in the Fort Lauderdale  Sun-Sentinel on March 23rd. Their home page targets seniors by asking, “Out of place at Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster? Then this is your space!”

I think it’s wonderful that elders have a myriad of choices with respect to social media networks especially targeted to them. They can read and discuss topics of interest with people of similar ages. If the desire is there to engage in social media, there are channels available to suit all ages and interests!

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