Facebook vs Twitter as tools of Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing is fast becoming a necessity in a marketer’s toolbox. As per the latest Social Media Forecast from Forrester Research, the social media advertising spend in the US is set to reach $16.2 billion by 2016, up from $7.3 billion in 2014. This is an increase of almost ten times from 2009, when it was around $1.6 billion and represents a CAGR of 17.4%.

In these times, the most popular social media websites that have emerged are:

Facebook – An online social networking website founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. As per the Facebook website, it currently has 1.35 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2014. Their mission is to give people the power to share and make the world open and connected.

Twitter – An online social networking service created in March 2006 that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. 500 million tweets are sent daily, with around 284 million monthly active users as per the Twitter website.

These have become important tools for marketing in today’s era of connectedness, as we are spending an increasing amount of time online. BI Intelligence, in a new report has calculated an Engagement Index to signify this. Social media is now the top internet activity, with Americans spending an average of 37 minutes per day on social media.

Companies, however need to think of their marketing goals and objectives first before choosing a platform.  Some may be better for organizations needs. This may not necessarily be a function of the number of users found on the website, as they all have their advantages and disadvantages.  Regarding Facebook and Twitter specifically, we can see that many of Facebook’s advantages are Twitter’s disadvantages and vice versa.

Advantages of Facebook:

Facebook User Base: Facebook has 1.35 billion monthly active users whereas Twitter only has 284 million monthly active users. Thus, Facebook definitely gives companies access to more potential customers. This could help the brand gain a larger word of mouth.

International Presence: Facebook’s active users are not only in the U.S, but spread across 127 different countries! This is a huge plus for international companies, as for them Facebook can be a one stop shop for reaching all their markets.  Twitter doesn’t have the international reach that Facebook does. This however may not matter to small and medium businesses who have a more local focus.

Login Frequency of Users: 41% of Facebook users login daily whereas 27% of Twitter users do. Thus, Facebook users can be conveyed the brand message more often, and may result in a higher brand recall. Thus, companies have more chance to influence their tastes.

Customer Interaction: Facebook may potentially have a greater network effect due to its ability for consumers to interact with the network and with each other. Companies can leverage on this and effectively communicate the brand image to an increasing number of users with greater engagement.

Advantages of Twitter:

The biggest advantage of Twitter is that its users have a much greater intention of spending on the brands they follow as compared to Facebook. This is a ratio of 67% for Twitter as against Facebook. This may be a point in Twitter’s favor for marketers.

They are also more likely to recommend those brands. Thirty-three percent of Twitter followers regularly recommend the brands they follow to friends where only 21% of Facebook fans do. Nothing better for a marketer than to have access to free brand ambassadors!

Another main advantage of Twitter for marketing and a disadvantage for Facebook is that tweets with links in them are more likely to get clicks than a link shared on a Facebook page. Tweets with embedded links get 19 clicks on average while Facebook’s shared links only get 3 clicks on average. It has been extensively accepted that more clicks lead to more sales!

Privacy Issues

There are increasing privacy concerns for social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. In this, Twitter is less invasive as compared to Facebook. Facebook’s configuration of default privacy settings may force you to share your data and your friends’ data if you want to use apps. Twitter is a lot less intrusive and as of now does not force you to share your data, or of those you are associated with.

Facebook uses the data it collects to target consumers with ads that are visible to others, which they may not be interested in sharing. Twitter, however only displays public tweets.

Another concern is the third party apps that allow users to sign in to using their Facebook account might also be seeing, sharing and storing their data. Most often users do not have much choice if they want to and agree to use the app.

Twitter can also give access to their users’ private information if the user chooses to use tools mentioned above though there are less third party apps associated with it. There are settings that the users can change, but in most cases this gets overlooked, leading to consumers sharing more information than they intended to do.

Due to the increasing usage of Social Networks, there may be a constant pressure to use Social Media for Marketing. IT is however important to look at the pros and cons of all of the available tools before making a decision to investing your precious marketing budget in this media and pick an appropriate platform.