Just as it was the de rigueur necessity for a company to have a website a few years back, it has now become apparent that companies need to use social marketing strategies to establish a direct link to their consumers. Yet, with the growing array of platforms and tools, the choices to achieve those relationships can be overwhelming.
Importance of Social Media
Originally, the domain of individuals, a place where people could upload their dog’s picture and post a video of their snoring baby; today, more and more businesses are experimenting with social media, as these platforms are perceived as low-cost but popular means of attracting new customers and retaining the existing ones. They have come to understand the value of this medium of communication, as a vehicle for gentler marketing to reaching customers, building and maintaining relationships and reputations.
Social media is like word-of-mouth on steroids, giving everybody a voice.
But if one has to pick the best options, there are two giants that stand out tall. Today, to not have a presence on Facebook and Twitter when other businesses do, puts you at a serious disadvantage.
With Facebook claiming to have over 600 million users and Twitter over 200 million, they are two of the most dominant social media platforms, and it is a difficult proposition to wrap our head around how prevalent each one is. While both have achieved immense success, there is little to compare.
The Duel – Facebook vs. Twitter
Twitter’s basic textual design is mobile-ready and offers a platform for third-party analytics. Facebook marketing is a pretty good way of increasing mindshare for a business and retweets are now being picked up by Google as if it has nothing better to do.
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Businesses are divided in their loyalty. Thus, the never-ending Facebook Vs. Twitter debate goes on, with conflicting headlines screaming at you: “Facebook ‘Likes’ more profitable than Tweets” says Mashable and “Twitter Destroys Facebook” retorts Business Insider.
Facebook or Twitter Marketing?
This is a tough question to answer. William Gibson said, “Facebook and MySpace feel like malls and twitter is more street.” This assessment seems appropriate. Facebook and Twitter are not in the same business. As many describe them, Twitter is meant for people you want to get to know and Facebook is for people you already know.
As of now, Facebook is in the dominant position, but Twitter may very well emerge on top as the landscape here changes very fast.
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Engaging and monitoring this new world of social media are the main steps, but how does one evaluate and measure the impact and success of these social media marketing tools?
Public relations has become an integral tool for businesses, and the only way that we can really understand the impact of Facebook and Twitter is through the demonstration of tangible results.
Speaking of Tangible Results…
Started in 2004, Facebook has over 600 million users, and half of them are recorded to log on to this social media site each day. On the most part, Facebook has gained a reputation as being used as a platform for people to connect and reconnect with family and friends. While it allows an “open” profile where strangers can find you or your business, brand new connections are mostly made through referrals rather than regular searches by users.
The idea is for businesses to make repeat customers and clients return to their pages and refer others to do the same.
This is done with the creation of a landing page for “fans” (fan pages) with premium content or special offers. “Discussions” can be set up allowing people to chat about your business. “Events” like product launches, store openings etc. can be showcased.
Facebook is a better platform for rich media publishing. The most important feature of all is the ability to post interesting videos, audio, photos, and links. It also allows interaction through polls, discussion boards and more that are easily accessible. And this, I think makes Facebook marketing a better option for product promotions.
On the other hand, Twitter has more than 200 million users in its kitty, and offers an open format and allows people to find products and companies, through sharing preferences. Twitter users can take part chats, search keywords and can find new connections of their interest.
The aim for most businesses should be to get conversations going and keep audience interested. Facebook scores over Twitter with the pictures and videos option, as it is a known fact that customers are attracted to them. It’s all about making your page visual. You can’t just throw your brand up on Twitter and wait for magic to happen. You have to spend time on Twitter listening to conversations to determine if your community is on there and if they are, then begin conversing within the context. If you just jump onto Twitter marketing without doing some research, it may completely blow up on the face.
An interesting usage of Twitter marketing that comes to mind is the “Moonfruit” promotion. The company offered 10 iPod Touches and 11 Macbook Pros as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations. They came up with a wonderful idea of making it highly interactive, to ensure Twitterers are drawn in. Contestants had to use the hashtag #moonfruit, and send a tweettweet. Moonfruit experienced a huge surge of traffic within just one month of this promotion. Their website traffic increased by 300 percent and the company sales reported a 20 percent increase. Their investment was only $15,000 towards the gifts they gave away and with all those tweets; they landed on the first page of Google too.
This is the power of the small-sized tweets. Twitter has been found to be excellent for sending out exclusive offers and coupons, along with fun information. It is these little things that lead Twitter traffic to your business blog, where you can engage them in broader conversation. Keep it small and interesting on Twitter.
Comparison Between The Two
The main difference between Facebook and Twitter marketing is that they are used by two different sets of people. Not everybody who is on Facebook uses Twitter.
For some businesses the 140 character tweet is all that is needed to communicate. For example, a bakery in London, called Albion’s Oven, uses tweets to notify its followers when fresh croissants are ready. They have an established clientele and don’t really need to be elaborate in what they have to say to their customers. They serve the “appetiser” on Twitter and arrange the “buffet” at their physical location or website where they take orders.
- Friends vs. Followers: In order to connect with someone on Facebook, you have to be mutual friends. Twitter allows you to follow someone even if they don’t follow you back. However, you can create Pages on Facebook that can be followed by anyone just as in Twitter. When someone “Likes” your page, they become your follower, and all the updates on the Page are visible in the “News Feed.” Updates can also be posed on the wall of that Page.
- Multiple Accounts vs. Single Account: The advantage with Twitter is that businesses can open several accounts, as long as the e-mail address used is different for each. Whereas, Facebook has a strict restriction on having only one profile. It is possible to have either a business or a personal account, but not both. But then, Facebook allows multiple pages.
- Twitter has a much smaller character limit for any messages to the world, but businesses are successfully leveraging twitter for brand support and development. Facebook marketing is more versatile with the ability to use video and posting photos, while Twitter allows you to post links to videos or photos.
- The Facebook “wall” feature is the most interactive and far better than Twitter. It helps build a larger following. The Instant Messaging also allows global communication with users. Businesses looking for a more in-depth conversation, love nothing better than inviting “friends” to their Facebook pages. Another attraction on Facebook is that it is an ad serving platform.
- The search feature in Twitter can be a huge help for businesses in terms of research. They can be used efficiently to see what people are talking about your company, brand, service or product. In fact, businesses can also use this feature to find out the talk about their competition. The trends, either increasing or declining can be tracked most effectively.
In fact, if you keep track of how companies are promoting themselves using social media, you would have noted that many of the bigger companies now also include Facebook pages in their prime time TV commercials. Most of the latest commercials now have space for url’s and social media icons at the top.
So Which One For Your Business?
Overall, I would say that Facebook is a top contender for many reasons. The Internet is a two way conversation, and Facebook encourages participation. A recent study conducted by SEOMoz revealed interesting facts about Facebook’s “shares” and “Likes.”
Twitter is very useful but there are quite a few limitations one has to deal with. It favors those that already have an audience with them, making it better for established businesses, who want to just keep their existing customers informed of new products and happenings in the company. It may not prove to be a good bootstrapping tool. If you’re a bootstrapper or a start-up, you can still use Twitter, but I suggest doing it in conjunction with other social media tools, like Facebook, where it’s easier to make friends and be seen. Did you know that you can link your Facebook page to Twitter?
However, I would still say that before deciding on whether to be on Facebook or Twitter, you will be making smarter decisions for your business, if you think in terms of “where is my niche audience online?” It is ideal if you can have a business presence on both and it’s easy to that using Hootsuite, through which both platforms can be managed from a single dashboard.