The battle between Facebook and Twitter: Which is best for brands?
- social media
Gone are the days when a website will suffice in portraying and communicating a brand’s personality. As social platforms, such as the likes of Facebook and Twitter, have come to dominate the World Wide Web and the way we socialise and connect with each other, it has become taboo for any business, especially large brands, to not have a presence
Although Twitter and Facebook both have their own strengths and weaknesses and one may better suit a brand than the other, this blog aims to assess each platform and what they can offer marketeers.
According to new research, if you’re not checking your Facebook at least 14 times a day, then you’re below the national average. Findings reveal 79 per cent of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up, yet peak Facebook viewing time is during the evening, just before bed. On average, we visit Facebook 13.8 times during the day, for two minutes and 22 seconds.
What does this mean for brands?
If people check Facebook an average of 14 times a day, it’s imperative that brands establish a presence if they want to connect on a personal level. Taking information directly where their audience spends time conversing with friends and family, helps brands to build a day-to-day relationship with individuals.
According to the same research, the total daily average mobile time on the site via our smartphones is 30 minutes. This is probably spent browsing through newsfeeds while we’re on the move, meaning it’s more important for brands to stamp their mark within this window, being at the front of the customers’ mind and ultimately influencing purchasing decisions.
The complexity of Facebook allows companies to engage with fans on a deeper level – through the use of apps, embedded links, photos, polls, and a very lenient character limit, brands can effectively communicate their messages without the need to cut out words or letters to fit into a 140 character post, like Twitter.
Offering exclusive offers, competitions and product news helps to build a community with a fan base which love and respect the brand. It is the hub to read reviews, see new products and website details, and get a feel for a brand’s customer service.
Engagement is what’s vital. Posting content that attracts likes, comments and shares, not only ensures that messages are being seen by a wider audience, but offers insight into the customer-base and what they like. Using comment feedback and analysing which posts get the most likes helps to create more ‘likeable’ content. This will produce a dedicated and targeted community of brand advocates who want to shout about your business and influence friends to join them.
A huge benefit of using Facebook is the monitoring system of ‘Page Insights’ – these provide statistics on total reach, engaged users, virality, and audience demographics. I use these regularly to assess which posts get the most attention and reach and try to replicate similar content to maintain a consistent level of engaged readers.
However, thanks to Facebook’s most recent algorithm, EdgeRank, it’s not always that simple. EdgeRank is the Facebook algorithm that decides which stories appear in each user’s newsfeed. The algorithm hides ‘boring stories’ and posts not of interest to a user, so if a story doesn’t score well, no one will see it.
In an essence, stories (Facebook posts) are scored on:
1. Affinity – the closeness of Facebook users – if they have a close network who they interact with on a regular basis, then their Facebook stories are more likely to appear in their friends’ newsfeed
2. Edge weight – how much ‘weight’ the story has – i.e. the level of engagement. Stories have more weight if they include photos or videos, instead of just text and links. Comments also score higher than likes.
3. Time decay – if a story is old, it will lose points – maintaining comments and likes improves its score, thus still appearing in people’s timelines
It’s really important that marketeers keep up-to-date with new Facebook algorithms to ensure they’re posting content that will maintain a high consistent reach and engagement. Although it remains impossible to check your ‘EdgeRank score’, you can see an indication of it by looking at ‘reach’, available to see via Facebook Insights.
Depending on the nature of the brand, the 140 character-limit can work favourably or it can be a detriment in effectively communicating messages. Brands that employ a witty, banter style on Twitter, such as Paddy Power, may only need 140 characters to make their mark.
And while hashtags are synonymous with Twitter, some marketeers still undervalue its potential to create a buzz and reach millions within a short period of time. Twitter Director, Bruce Daisley, describes Twitter as the chat room; the hashtag as the channel – they are vital to marketing.
Tweets with hashtags experience two times more engagement when using a hashtag and a tweet’s retweet rate amplifies by 12 times when they ask followers to retweet – yet only ONE per cent of brands are doing this!
Twitter is the destination for real-time marketing and utilising this will influence real-time engagement. With keyword targeting focusing on the ‘when’, brands can capture their audience as soon as they express intent. Utilising Twitter to generate buzz has been proven to lever existing above-the-line ads, driving more sales than additional ads spend.
One brand which executed real-time marketing exceptionally well was Oreo during the Superbowl blackout. Oreo set the benchmark for quick, witty and relevant marketing thanks to its highly responsive team of marketeers. As more journalists and consumers are using Twitter as a news source, innovative pieces of real time marketing like this have consequently achieved great PR coverage too.
Apps like Vine also enable brands to further humanise themselves. Yes, Facebook has Instagram, but Vine is a quirky bitesized-video sharing app that generates creative user-content. A video is much more interesting than a photo!
As Twitter users are generally younger and tech-savvier, it’s important for companies to approach new apps – such as Vine and Instagram – with open arms, in order to convey their personality and generate interesting content which sparks conversation and interaction with a hard-to-impress age group.
It’s especially important to employ these apps that users can operate on the move as a whopping 71 per cent of Twitter users tweet on a mobile device.
Yet again, they both have their own use in generating creative user-content and can’t directly compete with one and other, but Vine opens a plethora of marketing opportunities that are still yet to be explored. I also personally feel that Vine is better integrated with Twitter than Instagram is with Facebook.
With great complexity in the form of apps, photo albums, lenient character space, polls and Page Insights, Facebook offers a world of marketing opportunities on a dedicated brand page.
While Facebook has brand pages, Twitter has the hashtag. One downfall for Twitter is a brand’s profile doesn’t act in the same way as a Facebook page – Facebook admins have overall control of their brand page and the content on there. They can choose to delete spam or abusive messages, whereas hashtags can easily get hijacked and brand admins can’t do anything about it.
I do like the straightforwardness of Twitter. As they say: “the most effective campaigns are the simple ones”, and the majority of social media news stories are derived from Twitter. Marketeers are subject to increasing Facebook regulations, policies and algorithm changes, which makes it challenging to compete for maximum reach and virality.
Ultimately, it always depends on the positioning of each brand, the image they want to deliver and what they want to get out of social media. For more mature brands, it would make sense to steer away from peculiarities that may come across via Twitter, but instead opt for Facebook which allows brands to present a ‘full picture’ of their brand.
Although the two are very different, I currently see Twitter as a supporting tool for Facebook and believe Facebook is more beneficial for brands who wish to communicate effectively and directly to their customers.
However, as more brands capitalise on real-time marketing and focus on the ‘here and now’, Twitter is looking to be the channel with more room to grow and diversify, developing and acquiring apps such as Vine and the new #music app to offer more marketing opportunities. Meanwhile, Facebook will keep updating its newsfeed look and algorithm that brands have to compete with.