Twitter is driving less than a tenth of Facebook's traffic -- and it's flattening out.That's not quite it, though. More important than the sheer number of users, or even Klein's theory about the number of users who are journalists, are the dynamics that exist among users of each network.
Yet journalists -- and, quite often, the organizations that employ them -- clearly prefer Twitter. They put enormous effort into building Twitter brands and coming up with Twitter strategies. That's the impression the social-media vendors get and the social-network employees get. It's true for every journalist I know, and it's true for me, too.
The reason, I think, is that Twitter is simply more useful for our jobs. For better or worse, it's where news breaks today. It's also where a lot of real-time reporting happens. The bulk of Robert Costa's shutdown reporting happened on Twitter. For weeks on end, he managed to dominate the top political story in the country in 140-character bursts. As a journalist, if you wanted to stay on top of much of the best reporting you simply have to be on Twitter.
Twitter facilitates sharing and discussion among readers who aren't as connected to one another socially while Facebook just kind of tosses things out into the bloat. People talk to each other on Twitter because they're interested in the same thing at the same time. People talk to each other on Facebook because they happen to know each other.
On Twitter, what's actually driving the discussion is the content itself. A series of Tweets will say, "Look at this NEWS ITEM everyone is talking about." Maybe a hashtag will develop and bring in even more people. New connections are created. And those connections are relevant to interest in a common topic.
On Facebook the focus is more on the person talking and who that person happens to know. Your Facebook friend will post something. Everyone who responds will be either a personal acquaintance of (even worse) a relative of that person. They will talk about the person as much as they will the actual topic. As in, "Oh lord THIS DUDE is on about some shit again." If there is conversation, it's limited to a fairly closed circle. It doesn't draw new people in or advance the issue as well.
Twitter's dynamics bring people together around issues. It's more likely to encourage strangers to meet and potentially even act on their common interests. Facebook does the opposite. It lets things go in isolated, controlled burns. Nobody follows a hashtag on Facebook.
In many cases, in fact, Facebook convention is more likely to discourage public affairs talk. Here are 13 million Google search results for "Facebook politics blocker" It's understandable, of course. Imagine Thanksgiving dinner with your racist drunken uncle. Now imagine that every time you go on the internet. So while there are technically more "eyeballs" looking at Facebook, sharing your content there creates a less potent impact than it can via Twitter.
On the other hand, if you work for a media company who doesn't really give a shit what its readers think or how the content it publishes affects the world it reports on, then maybe you really should develop a Facebook-centric social media strategy. And since that probably describes the large majority of media companies anyway, I suppose that's exactly the direction things are headed.
Might want to dump that Twitter stock you bought last week.