Facebook Is Not Twitter: Treat Your Audiences Differently

If you’re just beginning to use social media, Twitter and Facebook may seem very similar.

And while it’s true that both services…

  • Are built around publicly shared “status updates”
  • Enable users to “follow” or “friend” each other
  • Can be simultaneously updated through third party services like HootSuite

… you’ll soon realize that the audience for each service has very different goals and expectations.

Broadly speaking, Twitter is good for…

  • Connecting with peers and industry professionals
  • “Water cooler” discussions of breaking news & pop culture
  • Real-time information-sharing, research, Q&As, etc.
  • Technology-focused and business-driven discussions
  • One-way broadcasts, with occasional commentary

… while Facebook is good for…

  • Connecting with people you already know “in real life”
  • Threaded discusssions (where all comments are collected)
  • Personal opinions
  • Photo albums
  • Videos

Twitter, while offering less robust features than Facebook, is also (paradoxically) considered to be the more professional and business-oriented platform.  Meanwhile, Facebook (like MySpace before it) is the more visually-driven sharing platform among friends, family and acquaintances.

This means that the users of each service have different expectations for their experience on each platform.  And if you’re piloting a brand across both channels, you need to be aware of those differences.  (Dan Zarella writes frequently, and well, about how to do this.)

For example, in December of 2009, we at Creative Concepts were helping The Children’s Aid Society promote their annual Miracle on Madison fundraiser.  Most of the news about that particular event — celebrity sightings, fashion updates and high-end sales — differed from the vast majority of The Children’s Aid Society’s traditional topics (children’s health, education, foster care and family services).

We quickly learned that the charity’s followers on Twitter remained open to the Miracle on Madison messaging, but their fans on Facebook chilled to the idea.  While they may be interested in the actual work being done by The Children’s Aid Society, that must seem at odds with more “commercial” updates about a high society Manhattan fundraising event.

So they made their voices heard — some abandoned The Children’s Aid Society Facebook page.

When we noticed a drop in Facebook numbers that coincided with an increase in Miracle messaging, we followed our instincts and dialed down the Miracle mentions on Facebook.  And when their fans’ behavior subsequently returned to normal, we chalked that up as a lesson learned — and one we believe is worth sharing:

Facebook is not Twitter is not MySpace is not a blog.  You may have one message, but you have multiple audiences.

Listen, and then adjust your pitch.

Want to hear our various voices? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!