twitzophrenia: the hard road to critical mass

warren sukernek (@warrenss on twitter) wrote a post today on his blog twittermaven expressing his consternation on what he calls the 'top twitter users,' as reckoned in a recent issue of people magazine. to be fair, the people article more accurately described them as the twitter users with the most followers, but for warren, the damage was done. I learned of the post through a tweet from diane hessan (@communispaceceo), who wrote that "just reading this post made her want to cancel her twitter account."

I replied that lots of idiots drive, but that doesn't make me want to sell my car. snark aside, however, two points:

1) some metrics say nothing without context. the post headline defines top twitter users as those with the most followers. yes, britney has 4MM followers, while poor chris brogan struggles along with less than 120K. however, which _uses_ twitter more? how many of britney's followers have tweeted at all in the past week? the last month? how many does she follow back and interact with?

I've met chris maybe once. he has a twitter stream the size of a small city, but when I comment on one of his blog posts or tweets, he has never failed to respond. a metric that I would be interested in seeing that wouldn't matter to people magazine at all is some kind of interactivity measure incorporating retweets, conversations and the like. klout's service is a step in that direction.

2) diane's tweet and warren's reply to a commenter above are indicative of what I would forcedly coin 'twitzophrenia.' we, the early adopters, evangelize the potential of twitter. we entreat clients and friends to join us and shake our heads at naysayers who decry the service as an exercise in trivial egotism. at the same time, however, we have this vision of twitter as our clubhouse and look down our noses at those who joined mainly because they read some celebrity did or that it was the in thing to do.

twitter's explosive growth has come because people like us didn't wait to learn the right way to use it. who are we to criticize if people who come after us choose to use it a different way?

what do you think? can the twitterati (myself included) have it both ways?

Facebook's New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly | Electronic Frontier Foundation

the dark side of facebook's drive to improve privacy settings for users

Facebook's New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Commentary by Kevin Bankston


Five months after it first announced coming privacy changes this past summer, Facebook is finally rolling out a new set of revamped privacy settings for its 350 million users. The social networking site has rightly been criticized for its confusing privacy settings, most notably in a must-read report by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner issued in July and most recently by a Norwegian consumer protection agency. We're glad to see Facebook is attempting to respond to those privacy criticisms with these changes, which are going live this evening. Unfortunately, several of the claimed privacy "improvements" have created new and serious privacy problems for users of the popular social network service.

The new changes are intended to simplify Facebook's notoriously complex privacy settings and, in the words of today's privacy announcement to all Facebook users, "give you more control of your information." But do all of the changes really give Facebook users more control over their information? EFF took a close look at the changes to figure out which ones are for the better — and which ones are for the worse.

Our conclusion? These new "privacy" changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.

Not to say that many of the changes aren't good for privacy. But other changes are bad, while a few are just plain ugly.

The Good: Simpler Privacy Settings and Per-Post Privacy Options

The new changes have definitely simplified Facebook's privacy settings, reducing the overall number of settings while making them clearer and easier for users to find and understand. The simplification of Facebook's privacy settings includes the elimination of regional networks, which sometimes would lead people to unwittingly share their Facebook profile with an entire city, or, as Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg explained in a recent open letter, an entire country.

Perhaps most importantly, Facebook has added a feature that we and many others have long advocated for: the ability to define the privacy of your Facebook content on a per-post basis. So, for example, if you only want your close friends to see a particular photo, or only your business colleagues to see a particular status update, you can do that — using a simple drop-down menu that lets you define who will see that piece of content.

Most important, however, is the simple fact that as part of this transition, Facebook is forcing all of its users to actually pay attention to the specifics of their privacy settings. Considering that many if not most users have previously simply adopted the defaults offered by Facebook rather than customizing their privacy settings, this is an especially good thing.

No question, these are positive developments that hopefully will lead more people to carefully review and customize their level of privacy on Facebook. Unfortunately, the new flexibility offered by per-post privacy settings, a definite "good," is being used to justify the "bad"...

The Bad: EFF Doesn't Recommend Facebook's "Recommended" Privacy Settings

Although sold as a "privacy" revamp, Facebook's new changes are obviously intended to get people to open up even more of their Facebook data to the public. The privacy "transition tool" that guides users through the configuration will "recommend" — preselect by default — the setting to share the content they post to Facebook, such as status messages and wall posts, with everyone on the Internet, even though the default privacy level that those users had accepted previously was limited to "Your Networks and Friends" on Facebook (for more details, we highly recommend the Facebook privacy resource page and blog post from our friends at the ACLU, carefully comparing the old settings to the new settings). As the folks at TechCrunch explained last week before the changes debuted:

The way Facebook makes its recommendations will have a huge impact on the site's future. Right now, most people don't share their content using the 'everyone' option that Facebook introduced last summer. If Facebook pushes users to start using that, it could have a better stream of content to go against Twitter in the real-time search race. But Facebook has something to lose by promoting ‘everyone' updates: given the long-standing private nature of Facebook, they could lead to a massive privacy fiasco as users inadvertently share more than they mean to.

At this point there's no "if" about it: the Facebook privacy transition tool is clearly designed to push users to share much more of their Facebook info with everyone, a worrisome development that will likely cause a major shift in privacy level for most of Facebook's users, whether intentionally or inadvertently. As Valleywag rightly warns in its story "Facebook's New ‘Privacy' Scheme Smells Like an Anti-Privacy Plot":

[S]miley-face posturing aside, users should never forget that Facebook remains, at heart, not a community but a Silicon Valley startup, always hungry for exponential growth and new revenue streams. So be sure to review those new privacy "options," and take Facebook's recommendations with a huge grain of salt.

Being a free speech organization, EFF is supportive of internet users who consciously choose to share more on Facebook after weighing the privacy risks; more online speech is a good thing. But to ensure that users don't accidentally share more than they intend to, we do not recommend Facebook's "recommended" settings. Facebook will justify the new push for more sharing with everyone by pointing to the new per-post privacy options — if you don't want to share a particular piece of content with everyone, Facebook will argue, then just set the privacy level for that piece of content to something else. But we think the much safer option is to do the reverse: set your general privacy default to a more restrictive level, like "Only Friends," and then set the per-post privacy to "Everyone" for those particular things that you're sure you want to share with the world.

The Ugly: Information That You Used to Control Is Now Treated as "Publicly Available," and You Can't Opt Out of The "Sharing" of Your Information with Facebook Apps

Looking even closer at the new Facebook privacy changes, things get downright ugly when it comes to controlling who gets to see personal information such as your list of friends. Under the new regime, Facebook treats that information — along with your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, and the pages that you are a "fan" of — as "publicly available information" or "PAI." Before, users were allowed to restrict access to much of that information. Now, however, those privacy options have been eliminated. For example, although you used to have the ability to prevent everyone but your friends from seeing your friends list, that old privacy setting — shown below — has now been removed completely from the privacy settings page.

Facebook counters that some of this "publicly available information" was previously available to the public to some degree (while admitting that some of it definitely was not, such as your gender and your current city, which you used to be able to hide). For example, Facebook points to the fact that although you could restrict who could see what pages you are a fan of when they look at your profile, your fan status was still reflected on the page that you were a fan of. But that's no justification for eliminating your control over what people see on your profile. For example, you might want to join the fan page of a controversial issue (like a page that supports or condemns the legalization of gay marriage), and let all your personal friends see this on your profile, but hide it from your officemates, relatives or the public at large. While it's true that someone could potentially look through all the thousands upon thousands of possible fan pages to find out which ones you've joined, few people would actually do this.

Facebook also counters that users can still control whether non-friends can see your Friends List by going into the hard-to-find profile editing settings on your profile page and changing the number of friends displayed on the public version of your profile to "0" unchecking the new check-box in your Friends setting that says "show my friends on my profile". However, if the goal with these changes was to clarify the privacy settings and make them easier to find and use, then Facebook has completely failed when it comes to controlling who sees who you are friends with. And even if you do have some control over whether non-friends can see your friends list — if you hunt around and can find the right setting, which is no longer under "Privacy Settings" — Facebook has made the privacy situation even worse when it comes to information sharing with the developers of Facebook apps.

The issue of privacy when it comes to Facebook apps such as those innocent-seeming quizzes has been well-publicized by our friends at the ACLU and was a major concern for the Canadian Privacy Commissioner, which concluded that app developers had far too much freedom to suck up users' personal data, including the data of Facebook users who don't use apps at all. Facebook previously offered a solution to users who didn't want their info being shared with app developers over the Facebook Platform every time a one of their friends added an app: users could select a privacy option telling Facebook to "not share any information about me through the Facebook API."

That option has disappeared, and now apps can get all of your "publicly available information" whenever a friend of yours adds an app.

Facebook defends this change by arguing that very few users actually ever selected that option — in the same breath that they talk about how complicated and hard to find the previous privacy settings were. Rather than eliminating the option, Facebook should have made it more prominent and done a better job of publicizing it. Instead, the company has sent a clear message: if you don't want to share your personal data with hundreds or even thousands of nameless, faceless Facebook app developers — some of whom are obviously far from honest — then you shouldn't use Facebook.

These changes are especially worrisome because even something as seemingly innocuous as your list of friends can reveal a great deal about you. In September, for example, an MIT study nicknamed "Gaydar" demonstrated that researchers could accurately predict a Facebook user's sexual orientation simply by examining the user's friends-list. This kind of data mining of social networks is a science still in its infancy; the amount of data that can be extrapolated from "publicly available information" will only increase with time. In addition to potentially revealing intimate facts about your sexuality — or your politics, or your religion — this change also greatly reduces Facebook's utility as a tool for political dissent. In the Iranian protests earlier this year, Facebook played a critical role in allowing dissidents to communicate and organize with relative privacy in the face of a severe government crackdown. Much of that utility and privacy has now been lost.

The creation of this new category of "publicly available information" is made all the more ugly by Facebook's failure to properly disclose it until today — the very day it is forcing the new change on users — when it added a new bullet point at the top of its privacy policy specifying this new category of public information that will not have any privacy settings. The previous versions of the policy, however, either didn't disclose this fact at all, or buried it deep in the text surrounded by broad assurances of privacy.

For example, in its previous privacy policy before it was revised in November, Facebook didn't specify any of your data as "publicly available information," and instead offered broad privacy assurances like this one:

We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook; that is why we give you control of your information. ... You choose what information you put in your profile, including contact and personal information, pictures, interests and groups you join. And you control the users with whom you share that information through the privacy settings on the Privacy page.

Meanwhile, the privacy policy as updated in November did specifically call out certain information as "publicly available" and without privacy settings nearly half-way down the page, surrounded by privacy promises such as these:

  • "You decide how much information you feel comfortable sharing on Facebook and you control how it is distributed through your privacy settings."
  • "Facebook is about sharing information with others — friends and people in your networks — while providing you with privacy settings that you can use to restrict other users from accessing your information."
  • "you can control who has access to [certain information you have posted to your profile], as well as who can find you in searches, through your privacy settings."
  • "You can use your privacy settings to limit which of your information is available to 'everyone.'"

These statements are at best confusing and at worst simply untrue, and didn't give sufficient notice to users of the changes that were announced today.

In conclusion, we at EFF are worried that today's changes will lead to Facebook users publishing to the world much more information about themselves than they ever intended. Back in 2008, Facebook told Canada's Privacy Commissioner that "users are given extensive and precise controls that allow them to choose who sees what among their networks and friends, as well as tools that give them the choice to make a limited set of information available to search engines and other outside entities." In its report from July, The Privacy Commissioner relied on such statements to conclude that Facebook's default settings fell within "reasonable expectations," specifically noting that the "privacy settings — and notably all those relating to profile fields — indicate information sharing with 'My Networks and Friends.'"

No longer. Major privacy settings are now set to share with everyone by default, in some cases without any user choice, and we at EFF do not think that those new defaults fall within the average Facebook user's "reasonable expectations". If you're a Facebook user and you agree, we urge you to visit the Facebook Site Governance page and leave a comment telling Facebook that you want real control over all of your data. In the meantime, those users who care about control over their privacy will have to decide for themselves whether participation in the new Facebook is worth such an extreme privacy trade-off.

Related Issues: Privacy




Report: Facebook Popularity Not Fading Among Young Users (via AllFacebook)

so much for that bit of internet "fact!" I was actually more interested in the last paragraph, which echoes what I have been saying for the last several facebook-y posts. facebook is going to be how a lot of communication gets done.

case in point: my girlfriend and her kids got a new kitten today. the kids went over to stay at their dad's. so I'm talking to alice and she suddenly says, "she's purring! they said she never purrs without her mama. our internet is down - can you go post on lu's facebook account?" she knew that her daughter might see a text or might answer her phone, but she was for sure going to see something on her facebook page...

-College Icon-A new study being released this morning by Anderson Analytics reveals that prior reports suggesting Facebook may be losing it’s [sic] coolness factor among college students are inaccurate. Facebook was viewed as “cool” by 82 percent of males and 90 percent of females in the study. While the study does not allude to reasons for the site’s continued popularity, it does suggest that Facebook is becoming a “new mass medium”.

Also of interest was that Facebook overtook Google in terms of popularity among both genders. Despite the increased usage by parents, younger users have not left the site for the most part. Instead, younger users are most likely becoming more educated about the privacy settings made available by Facebook. With the new privacy settings rolling out in the coming weeks, younger users will be able to post content which their parents won’t be able to view.

That means users will have more control over the content visible among their diverse relationships (e.g. professional, family, and social) on a single account. That Facebook continues to maintain its popularity among all age groups is phenomenal as most other social networks have failed at diversifying their user base beyond smaller demographic groups.

It will be interesting to see if new users find the new privacy settings to be easier to understand and take advantage of the soon to be released publishing features. For now it appears that Facebook is truly becoming a mass communication tool, not just a “social network” as many still refer to it.


New Study Reveals How People Share Online | Social Media Explorer

  • People still share via email and instant messenger more than via social networks. An astounding 59% of all shares on the widget were done via email, 25% via instant messenger and just 14% were passed along on networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Twitter, which has recently emerged as the share site du jour for those in the social media world, accounts for only one percent of all shares. Facebook is 11%. Yahoo mail is the highest individual share channel at 26%.
  • Yahoo (44%) and MSN (25%) mail are way ahead of Gmail (19%) as the email provider used by Tell-A-Friend users.
  • Facebook accounts for 79% of all shares via social networks. MySpace is second at 15%. Twitter is just 5% of all social network shares via the widget.

While I do think there is a separation between what I would call hyper-tech users (those who owe their soul to Google, defer to other bookmarklets and other methods rather than clicking on the share widgets provided) and the average Joe or Jane, the statistics are significant. They show us how wide of a gap there is between those two crowds. When we as Internet marketers are making recommendations and building functionality for the mainstream, we have to remember that WE are not the mainstream.

Another insight I get out of this data is that one-to-one communications – email and instant messenger – are still enormously powerful. Most people either don’t realize they can share with more folks via social networks or are not comfortable doing so. It might just be that sharing the information with one or two people is the methodology of choice for the rest of the world. That can change how we approach social media strategies for some products and services. Design programs and products that inspire more one-to-one pass alongs rather than “LOOK WHAT I FOUND!” messages on social networks.

nearly 2/3 of sharing is still by email!

Some thoughts on Twitter vs. Facebook Status Updates (via apophenia blog)

October 25, 2009

Some thoughts on Twitter vs. Facebook Status Updates

The functional act of constructing a tweet or a status update is very similar. Produce text in roughly 140 characters or less inside a single line text box and click a button. Voila! Even the stream based ways in which the text gets consumed look awfully similar. Yet, the more I talk with people engaged in practices around Twitter and Facebook, the more I'm convinced these two things are not actually the same practice. Why? Audience.

There are two critical structural differences between Facebook and Twitter that are essential to understand before discussing the practices: 1) social graph directionality; 2) conversational mechanisms.

Facebook's social graph is undirected. What this means is that if I want to be Friends with you on Facebook, you have to agree that we are indeed Friends. Reciprocity is an essential cultural practice in Facebook (although they are trying to rip out the functional requirement as it relates to status updates, arguably to compete with Twitter). Twitter, on the other hand, is fundamentally set up to support directionality. I can follow you without you following me. Sure, I can't DM you in this case, but I'm still consuming your updates. Yes, yes, yes, privacy settings complicate both of these statements. But for the majority of users of each site, this is the way it goes. Stemming from this are a whole lot of social norms about who's following who and who's consuming who's content. It's pretty clear that the Celebrity will get followed without reciprocating on Twitter, but there's also a tremendous opportunity for everyday individuals to develop a following. It's not just the Celebrities who are following different people than the people who follow them; it's nearly everyone (except for those who think that auto-follow bots relieve social tensions).

On Facebook, status updates are placed on one's Wall. This allows anyone else (among those with permission) to comment on the update. This creates a conversational space as it is quite common for people to leave comments on updates. Conversely, on Twitter, to reply to someone's tweet, one produces an at-reply on their own stream. Sure, the interlocutor can read it in their stream of at-replies, but it doesn't actually get seen or produced on their own page. Thus, a person's Twitter page is truly the product of their self-representation, not the amalgamation of them and their cohort.

So, practices.. how does this affect practices?

Those using Facebook are primarily concerned with connecting with those that they know (or knew in high school). The status updates are an invitation to conversation, a way of maintaining social peripheral awareness among friends and acquaintances. They're about revealing life as it happens so as to be part of a "keeping up" community.

Arguably, Twitter began this way, if only because the geeks and bloggers who were among the early adopters were a socially cohesive group. Yet, as the site has matured, the practices have changed (and I've watched a whole lot of early adopters who weren't part of the professional cohort leave). For the most visible, Twitter is a way of producing identity in a public setting. This is where you see personal branding as central to the identity production going on there. It's still about living in public, but these folks are aware of being seen, of having an audience if you will. Twitter also enables a modern incarnation of parasocial relations. Sure, there are one-sided relationships on Facebook too, but they are far more the norm on Twitter. I can follow the details of a Celebrity's life without them ever knowing I exist. At the same time, there's the remote possibility of them responding which is what complicates traditional parasocial constructs. Angelina Jolie could never see me reading about her in the gossip mags and commenting on her latest escapades, but, if she were on Twitter, she could sense my watching her and see my discussion of her. That's part of what is so delightfully tempting for Celebs.

In short, the difference between the two has to do with the brokering of status. With Facebook, the dominant norm is about people at a similar level of status interacting. On Twitter, there's all sorts of complicated ways in which status is brokered. People are following others that they respect or worship and there's a kind of fandom at all levels. This is what Terri Senft has long called "micro-celebrity." Alice Marwick has been extending Terri's ideas to think about how audience is brokered on Twitter (paper coming soon). But I think that they're really critical. What makes Twitter work differently than Facebook has to do with the ways in which people can navigate status and power, follow people who don't follow them, at-reply strangers and begin conversations that are fundamentally about two individuals owning their outreach as part of who they are. It's not about entering another's more private sphere (e.g., their Facebook profile). It's about speaking in public with a targeted audience explicitly stated.

As you can see, I'm not quite there with my words on this just yet, but I feel the need to push back against the tendency to collapse both practices into one. How audience and status is brokered really matters and differentiates these two sites and the way people see and navigate this.

One way to really see this is when people on Twitter auto-update their Facebook (guilty as charged). The experiences and feedback on Twitter feel very different than the experiences and feedback on Facebook. On Twitter, I feel like I'm part of an ocean of people, catching certain waves and creating my own. Things whirl past and I add stuff to the mix. When I post the same messages to Facebook, I'm consistently shocked by the people who take the time to leave comments about them, to favorite them, to ask questions in response, to start a conversation. (Note: I'm terrible about using social media for conversation and so I'm a terrible respondent on Facebook.) Many of the people following me are the same, but the entire experience is different.

Over the last few years, I've watched a bunch of self-sorting. Folks who started out updating on Twitter and moved to Facebook and vice versa. The voices they take on don't change that much, but they tend to find one medium or the other more appropriate for the kinds of messaging they're doing. One or the other just "fits" better. When I ask them why, they can't really tell me. Sometimes, they talk about people; sometimes they talk about privacy issues. But most of the time, one just clicks better for reasons they can't fully articulate.

Different social media spaces have different norms. You may not be able to describe them, but you sure can feel them. Finding the space the clicks with you is often tricky, just as finding a voice in a new setting can be. This is not to say that one space is better than the other. I don't believe that at all. But I do believe that Facebook and Twitter are actually quite culturally distinct and that trying to create features to bridge them won't actually resolve the cultural differences. And boy is it fun to watch these spaces evolve.

Category: web2.0


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Posted by zephoria at October 25, 2009 12:24 PM | TrackBack

Comments (50)

I know why I use Twitter, not Facebook. I'm pushing the edges of new practice re Network Weaving and self-organizing. I want to hang out with other innovators and hear what they are saying and reading, so that my thinking is enriched. I want to try out my latest thinking with other people who know enough to critique well. And, I want to meet new people so my ideas don't develop in isolation but become better as others riff on and with them. I want to find people who want to collaborate. All of this happens on Twitter.

So while I agree with you that their is a world of celebrity on Twitter, I think there is another world (probably overlapping) that is about innovation networks. It's much more peer based and easily moves from Twitter to skype etc for deeper conversation and collaboration. I love it!

Posted by June | October 25, 2009 12:41 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:41


The medium is (partly) the message, but (mainly) the messengers are the message. Self-selection drives choice of media. Do I want to play the fame game, the fan game, or the friend game (whatever 'friend' means anymore)?

The 'answers' come as we fine-tune the questions. As usual, there's no one right answer, other than "it depends." On what does it depend? There's a good question.

Posted by Charles H. Green | October 25, 2009 12:42 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:42

Neat post, danah....and one that resonates with me.

One of the differences that I see in my own use of Twitter and Facebook is that I feel much more pressure to be a valuable contributor to my Twitter network than I do to be a valuable contributor and active participant in my Facebook network.

There are times when I feel like I have to find a good share and get it out in Twitter, otherwise I won't be seen as the intellectual equal of my peers or worthy of being a part of their information stream.

A part of that probably does come from your points on micro-celebrity. People that I don't even know have invested confidence in me by inviting my thoughts into their intellectual space. That's daunting in many ways, changing the way that I feel about my own participation.

Facebook, on the other hand, is a far more relaxed experience for me. Because I know those who I invite in to my own intellectual stream in Facebook, I also know that they won't judge me. I have a level of personal and professional credibility before I even make a post.

In some ways, the directionality and parasocial relationships enabled by Twitter make the experience more rigid and formal than the experience offered by Facebook....

Bill Ferriter

Posted by Bill Ferriter | October 25, 2009 12:43 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:43

The conventional understanding is that Facebook is a more private, comfortable, trusted personal space, and Twitter is a more public, performed space.

A quick check - is this true for others here?

It's certainly not true for me. For me, Facebook friends include groups of people I've known from highschool and college, and family members. The Twitter network - not all the followers, but people with whom I'll have @reply exchanges, are people with whom I have current connections.

The reunion effect on Facebook is cool, but not always comfortable - hi, there, haven't talked to you in 20+ years, how's it going :-)

Posted by Adina Levin | October 25, 2009 12:46 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:46

It is timely that you've published this today! I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between my FB status updates and my twitter stream. I started using Twitter before it became a marketing tool for celebrities, at which point I took a long hiatus from Twitter because I was getting annoyed by the spambots and feeling like everyone following me was trying to sell me something. I got over it and now, I'm back on Twitter and I've definitely been more conscious of what kind of content I tweet. Whereas before, my tweets were more personal, now I'm more likely to tweet links to articles, food-related stuff, and to respond to other tweets (whether or not they are directed at me) than I am to just tweet every single thought and action I had, as I did before, when it was more personal. I stopped using the tools that allow Twitter to auto-update my FB status because sometimes my tweets just didn't make sense in the context of FB or they weren't status updates, per se. Since my Twitter is wide open, and my FB is limited to family/friends only, audience definitely comes into play. The twist here is that NONE of my family (except for my husband) and very few of my RL friends are on Twitter, so there is some stuff that I feel more comfortable sharing on Twitter than I do on FB.
Anyway, sorry to ramble but your post definitely touched a nerve!

Posted by Nancy | October 25, 2009 12:49 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:49


This is fun to read, dana. Thanks!

Twitter does seem a lot more broad-casty and facebook a lot more conversational. Until reading yr piece, I put the blame for that phenom on the devices (assuming that twitter is a phone thing and facebook as a computer thing).

Hmmm. Yes interesting to watch them evolve. Though did you-all hear this piece last week. TV is far from dead:

Posted by Xanthe | October 25, 2009 12:53 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:53

Kara Harkins:

Adina: about the same with me. A lot of the people I am connected to on facebook are family, old classmates, and such. Basically, not a group I would always conversationally 'click' with. In the case of family a lot of things are obviously pretty self-censored (conversely, pretty hard to turn down a friend request from your parents).

Twitter, even though it can be read by people anonymously (I am assuming no privacy locks on updates) are generally read by people I would feel comfortable talking with (even if I can not stand the other person). Why? If they did not find me interesting they would unfollow me. So I do feel less inhibited about what I talk about there.

Posted by Kara Harkins | October 25, 2009 12:57 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:57

Chris Dorr:

Great post, with a lot of very smart observations. You are right about how fun it is to watch to watch these spaces evolve. On Twitter I follow people who provide me with some "value". I want to provide value to those who follow me. In a sense, I think of them as an audience who is looking for something that matters from me (even thought I do not know most of them.) Much of what I provide comes from others who I follow, so I act as kind of extender of other people's value to those who follow me. Some of what I tweet is my own commentary, or original, but I am always thinking of my "audience". Less so on Facebook, where I know most of my "friends" and I jump in periodically to have conversations but do status updates much less frequently. I look forward to more posts from you on this topic.

Posted by Chris Dorr | October 25, 2009 12:58 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 12:58

I cut the cord that ties these two several months ago, different audiences, different conversations.

I think it was Mary Hodder who posted (on twitter) that while Facebook was like having a dinner conversation with friends, Twitter was like getting up on stage at a nightclub on open mike night.

Posted by ian kennedy | October 25, 2009 1:14 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 13:14

Katya Skorobogatova:

For me personally Twitter is more like a media channel that I curate by choosing those that I follow (i do not know the majority of those who i follow, i choose to follow them based on how interesting their tweets are). It is like a better google reader as you can evaluate the quality of the posts quicker due to their size. Also real time nature in important as well as an opportunity to get a quick reply and engage with a professional in the topic that interests you.
Since I am Russian educated in US and living now in Russia twitter is also a way for me to retain and support the context and discussion in that I was involved when in US, hence more emphasis on 'media' part aka reading vs speaking.
Also might be of interest the following discussion - it is in Russian but google translate is always there to help.

Posted by Katya Skorobogatova | October 25, 2009 1:15 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 13:15

I totally agree with the fact that when I comment on Twitter I feel like I'm sharing things with a mass of people. For many people (strangers or not to see and the sort). But when i post things on Facebook it usually raises discussion and things are more open for debate. I've always wanted Facebook to have a feature that instead of "friending" people you could put them as fan or the twitter equivalent follower. I'm pretty sure something that a more sophisticated feature of friend classification is coming on Facebook soon.

Posted by Cesar Concepcion-Acevedo | October 25, 2009 2:26 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 14:26

I think the difference between the status updates in each also have to do with frequency of posting. In Facebook you're not going to be posting 7-10 or more times a day. If you did your friends would likely be annoyed or think you are a self-serving attention seeker. Whereas in Twitter this is completely fine.

Twitter is more of a stream. If you find a good article or have a great idea you can post it to Twitter on the spot, even if you just posted a minute ago. With Facebook a few posts spread out through the day is likely enough. Like you said they are two different cultures (I like that anthropological notion of the two social networks).

Posted by Andy Burkhardt | October 25, 2009 2:38 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 14:38

Joan F:

I find that most of the people I interact with on Facebook are those I have met elsewhere, on the internet and in RL, while my Twitter contacts are people I met on Twitter. I do both along with Usenet, a private NNTP server and some web-based boards.

Posted by Joan F | October 25, 2009 4:00 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 16:00


I follow your blog for quite some time already. Please, do something about your text formatting - font size, contrast between font color and background, etc. Especially the font size - it's close to unreadable. I am extremely good at consuming text from a screen (15 hours a day for the last 20 years)... but your blog is a real challenge.

I hope other readers will join my petition... :)

Posted by Emil Sotirov | October 25, 2009 4:05 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 16:05

For my part, I'll make sure to spell your name correctly next time. I apologize.

Posted by Emil Sotirov | October 25, 2009 4:09 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 16:09

as another "twitter-->facebook status" automater, i'm likewise consistently fascinated by the differences between the two platforms in the responses to any given tweet. though i've been chastised by one media professional for using the same stream on both sites (he argued that the fundamentally different modes and purposes of the two sites necessitated different content and framing choices), and though i advised against tweet/status duplication during a panel presentation last month, i personally continue to cross-feed in part *specifically because* doing so gets me a wider range of responses.

(it also saves time, and provides updates on a site [facebook] that i otherwise would rarely bother updating - but that's not as interesting.)

Posted by w.e.b. | October 25, 2009 4:58 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 16:58

I don't have time (or maybe just the inclination) to figure out when a status update is best for Twitter or for Facebook. My self-reporting needs to go out in one interface and ideally be constructed in a way that suits both forums. If it gets any more complicated than this then things are just getting ridiculously complicated in Web 2.0 world.

Posted by Dave | October 25, 2009 5:38 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 17:38

Steven Parker:

Thank you for solving a mystery for me. I never understood why I just never took to Facebook despite several attempts but once on Twitter, well it was like a duck taking to the water. In my personal life, I maintain a close friendship with about 12 different people (this includes 4 family members). I speak to all 12 by phone not less than once a week, but most at least twice weekly and 4 of them almost daily. None of these friendships is less than 8 years old and while the 4 family connections have been around 50+ years, some of the friendships stretch back more than 40 years. They represent both different and overlapping parts of my life and they are very fundamental to my very existence. Hence I always found Facebook both superfluous and a time waster. Why did I need to reconnect with people I went to High School with 40 years ago who while ok never meant much to me.

I thought Twitter was going to be the same thing--but of course it is not and I have connected with so many different people from so many different walks of life, had so many interesting conversations and learn something new all the time both in my professional field and those subjects that interest me personally. Even more unique however is that younger members of my family, such as my nephew are on Twitter and he and I being 40 years apart matters little when we are both part of the same conversation (usually about new electronic gadgets). So I find Twitter not only to be a stage where you get to share things you have knowledge about but it also allows you to sit in the audience with both strangers and relatives and build a whole unique matrix of exchanges.

I too am groping for the right words so please forgive my rambling.

Posted by Steven Parker | October 25, 2009 5:44 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 17:44

I don't cross-post my updates on Twitter and Facebook for a few reasons, though I think they relate to what you are getting at here regarding the differences between Tweets and Status Updates.

1)I was an active Pownce user before I took to Twitter and there were a lot of people who used services like to crosspost to both. Seeing the same message in multiple places was redundant, and the Tweets often seemed out-of-context on Pownce. Additionally it seemed that those who cross-posted were less likely to reply to comments in both places, so the conversation wasn't able to evolve on Pownce. I'm seeing more and more of this happen between Facebook and Twitter now. The annoyance level mostly depends on how a user is cross-posting. In particular it seems that those who share the posts from the Facebook side are the most confusing. I've clicked links in Tweets expecting to go to a blog article only to find that I'm being sent through to the same message, just on a Facebook page.

2) I see my FB and Twitter audiences as being somewhat different. My Twitter audience, while larger, is more of a niche, with a focus on Web development, marketing, social media, design and related topics with some crossover into philosophy, science, photography and every nerds fave, bacon. My Facebook audience is more of a cross-section of real world friends and academics, some of whom may care about mktg, etc. but most of whom don't want to hear about these things as often as I tweet about them.

3) While the groups are mostly different, there still is some overlap between my FB and Twitter friends and I don't want to bore them by putting the same message in front of them in multiple spaces. I also don't want to risk splitting up the conversation. If I say X on both, and get replies on both, my readers will only see the conversation from one or the other, they won't get the reactions from all sides.

After reading this post, I think I use my Facebook status (when I bother to update it - which is rare) to share what I'm doing, while I use Twitter to share more of what I'm thinking about or reading. And like Bill, I feel a certain obligation to share things of value on Twitter. That doesn't mean I share junk on FB, they get my Delicious saves and Google Reader shares, just that my FB people can take less frequent posts with more topical variety, while my Twitter people expect a higher proportion of topical relevancy. But that's just how it works for me. For others it could be quite different.

Posted by Heidi Cool | October 25, 2009 8:28 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 20:28

My Facebook page continues to be active, but my consumption and interaction on that site has long been limited to prompts the system sends, triggered by others responding to my content.

I used to reserve Facebook status for a once-a-week update only, pushing it to Twitter but not the other way. When the third-party app support arrived to sync the two channels properly, I stopped updating Facebook status altogether and relied on what was coming from Twitter. Not paying close attention to FB, it didn't bother me that links and @mention content was cryptic and ill-placed when it got to Facebook. changed that, however. This is a very intelligent third-party Twitter application that parses tweets into appropriate places in Facebook. I have it set to ignore any @replies (so limited Twitter conversation stays in Twitter) and try to resolve the @username with whatever is in that person's Twitter profile as a real name. Anything with links also go to the wall instead of status.

The way this tool understands and translates between the two cultures noticeably increased the amount of conversation this content prompts. It is still rare that I go to Facebook specifically to find out what people are doing or initiate comments—partly because many of my active friends are also on Twitter—but the appropriateness of's sync has clearly resonated with the Facebook crowd.

Posted by Kevin Makice | October 25, 2009 8:37 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 20:37


Nice post Danah!

I am really interested in this because it to a certain extent it plays a part in my thesis about participation online and the different methods, and looking at the uses of Twitter and Facebook respectively (amongst others) is part of that.

For me, I prefer Facebook because of the conversational potential (although my statuses often go un-'liked' or uncommented on) :( but I found Twitter good for broadcasting but not getting any response, I felt like I was yelling out into a dark field. :( And then I got bombarded with ten gazillion tweets from politicians, newspapers, causes etc who use it as a spam board. And my only friends were spam bots :( WAH! It seems so terrible when I write it out! But that's just my 2c. :)

Posted by Tasha | October 25, 2009 10:03 PM

Posted on October 25, 2009 22:03


I'm pretty sure FB updates aren't restricted to 140 bytes.

Posted by Joe | October 26, 2009 2:55 AM

Posted on October 26, 2009 02:55

I connected my tweets to Facebook as an efficiency measure earlier this year. Just recently I broke the connection. I certainly did not articulate my rationale as well as above but the differences in my use of the two applications became apparent. Facebook has always been a social network revolving around family. My Twitter use has coalesced around a growing professional community of purpose. Case in point, Twitter brought me to this blog.

Posted by Alan Stange | October 26, 2009 6:04 AM

Posted on October 26, 2009 06:04

WRT Kevin's comment: If had been around when I stopped using twitter to auto-update my FB status, I would've used it! That was my biggest annoyance with the cross-posting-- my @ posts on Twitter totally didn't make sense as FB updates and made me look stupid, quite frankly! I guess it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a tool for smarter cross-posting.

Posted by Nancy | October 26, 2009 8:42 AM

Posted on October 26, 2009 08:42

Loved this post. I have been thinking about this topic for a long time. It is becoming common practice for people to tie their facebook and twitter accounts together so that one update will hit both services simultaneously. I think this is a bad strategy for a few reasons.

1- Not everyone on facebook uses, or understands, twitter. The constant flow of updates makes facebook feel very spammy and creates confusion for those who do not use twitter. They are two VERY different ecosystems that even use their own language. facebook updates and posts have no limit to their length or what media you can use, whereas twitter updates are confined to 140 characters and use a language for communicating that employs all kinds of abbreviations, codes and shorthand. facebook updates tend to be much less frequent, and can be richer in nature with the ability to add multiple photos, video, links, etc.

2- In my case, and I am quite sure I am not alone in this, the people in my twitterverse are not the same as those in facebookland. For that reason alone, it is disrespectful to treat them both the same. Additionally, there are probably things you might tweet about that you might not want, or your friends might not want, on facebook.

3- Social media/social networking adoption is growing at a breakneck pace. Yet one of the core values that define them are transparency and authenticity. The minute you start automating processes, you are a robot who is sending out spam and not honestly participating in a conversation. Scalability and time management are all valid rationalizations for automation. But they are also the fast lane to irrelevance for you and your message. Ari Adler had a terrific post about this very topic recently. This quote stuck out for me: "The idea of automating to save time and update all your status boxes at once may seem appealing, but it’s really akin to just walking into every meeting and social gathering with a bullhorn, shouting out whatever is on your mind and not caring if the people in the room will get it or even care."

Take this example offline for a second into the "real" world. You and I are talking about the chances for success of a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East, and out of left field you start telling me about this awesome blog post you just read about the new Star Trek movie. It's supposed to be a conversation- are you even LISTENING to me?

Online communications, done right, serve to facilitate offline ones. You are putting yourself out there with EVERY POST YOU MAKE NO MATTER WHERE YOU MAKE IT. People make all kinds of decisions, assumptions and judgements about you, consciously or unconsciously. Make sure that they're thinking that:

A- This person/company/entity adds value to the conversation.

B- This person/company/entity respects what I think and does not treat me like a number.

C- This person/company/entity cares about my needs and can help solve my problems, whether that problem is finding a good place to eat, choosing a PR firm or getting a good deal on a flight to the Middle East.

Posted by Matthew Chamberlin | October 26, 2009 10:22 AM

Posted on October 26, 2009 10:22


The distinctions you're making here really resonate with me, as an early-ish Twitter adopter who started using Facebook status updates a while later. As you suggest, for a long time I had no words for the difference in my usage of the two networks. But after my son was born, it crystallized: I now have a new level of obligation to keep in touch with extended family, old friends and people from the past, and Facebook (even more than Flickr) is where that plays out. There was never any question of meeting those expectations via Twitter, which has become the slipstream, the river of memes. In an odd (and pretty superficial) way I'm reminded of Jenna Burrell's fieldwork from Ghana on the cel phone and the internet as technologies of "embeddedness and escape", respectively. Facebook, like the cel phone for those Ghanaians, feels like the means to fulfill kinship ties and established alliances, while interacting on Twitter is about plunging into the fray of large-group discourse and calling out for attention and status. Thanks for this post.

Posted by amoeda | October 26, 2009 5:59 PM

Posted on October 26, 2009 17:59

I enjoyed this piece and the comments because I have also been thinking about the two updates. In general, I loosely try to keep facebook for my real friends and twitter for my colleagues or PLN. I find it strange to read some people's posts in both places. Some of my librarian friends in facebook simultaneously update both status feeds, making me just read it twice. It is a little annoying actually! I don't know why - it is easy to skim over, but for some reason it sticks with me. Get creative - write two posts!

Posted by elisabeth a. | October 26, 2009 8:50 PM

Posted on October 26, 2009 20:50


i put one up on this, from a slightly different angle, recently:

the differences between twitter and fbook status updates are pretty substantial. I think they play out in interesting ways in both the "attention economy" and notions of social capital. There's not only the intended audience, but also the perception of self that comes with interacting in front of an audience. My sense is that the twitter space is more publicly reflective than facebook.


Posted by Adrian Chan | October 27, 2009 6:35 AM

Posted on October 27, 2009 06:35

Interesting ideas in your post. On a personal note I currently auto-update from Twitter to Facebook and have been thinking about splitting them. I think that your post helped make up my mind to do it.

I think that the difference in posting style/ content/ purpose between Facebook and Twitter does have a connection to the difference in network. But I wonder how much of that is due to structures of the applications influencing the communities and therefore the status updates that take place within the community. As you point out Facebook connections are mutual, the system is a walled garden and default privacy is more restrictive. This structure leads toward closed networks, closer ties more intimate sharing. On the other hand Twitter connections are one way (though mutual connection occurs frequently) this leads to a looser network and more broadcasting of updates and open communications.

However, because the structure of the application is not determined by the users changes to the structure can be impact the community and then the status updates that take place within the community. For example Facebook has discussed allowing a user to set the privacy of each shared item allowing an update about health concerns to be shared with one small group and news about a popular band to be shared with everyone. This change to the application's functionality could significantly change the content of status updates on the application. Users may also adjust the privacy defaults to make a network more closed, impacting the content of the status updates. How do the status updates of a teen's private, closed Twitter network compare to those of a celebrity's open network?

Finally I'm thinking about how attitudes toward the application change over time. A couple years ago a colleague's attitude toward LinkedIn was to only connect with people he had met in person. Now his attitude has changed to a more anything goes approach and he is more selective of Facebook friends. The rules that my friends use for whether to friend work colleagues on Facebook varies wildly. These variances, adaptations and rapid evolutions lead me to feel that functionality/ structure, community and sharing influence each other and no single one of them leads the others. I don't pretend to know for sure, but am interested to see how this plays out over the years to come.

Posted by Thomas | October 27, 2009 2:51 PM

Posted on October 27, 2009 14:51

Fascinating discussion with great comments. Linguistically I see them as spaces with different norms, and after becoming "Queen of the Status Updates" (a friend's comment) for a while with Twitter linked to FB, I disconnected. I now use a selective app that sends tweets I specify to FB, and I only do it when those are appropriate to both audiences.

Like most here, I view FB as my "real friends" space and Twitter as the creative space in which I have the great opportunity to connect with strangers I would never otherwise have met who enrich my life with their knowledge, recommended content, sense of humor, or pithy observations. FB doesn't offer me a way to find those people and thus can't replace Twitter.

Some of these Twitter connections may become acquaintances or colleagues in real life, depending on where they live. I'm looking forward to meeting people at the SNCR conference in Cambridge next week whom I've "met" via Twitter.

I'd be interested in whether anyone uses the LinkedIn status updates and how you see those relating to FB/Twitter. I rarely update LI and don't really see my profile there as a communication space--the status update is more a label since it's completely one-way unless someone creates a message. Comments in the Q&A section and groups may fulfill some of that function in a way that isn't met either in FB or in Twitter since it provides for topics and discussion among groups of strangers, but I don't spend much time there. LI is more an online resume than anything else for me (might be different if I were job-hunting or had my own consulting firm).


Posted by Barb Chamberlain | October 27, 2009 4:22 PM

Posted on October 27, 2009 16:22

Wow - these comments are GREAT. Thank y'all for such a good conversation. So much more to think about...

Posted by zephoria | October 28, 2009 9:06 AM

Posted on October 28, 2009 09:06

Came here after your tweet about the comments on this post :)

I remember missing the 'with friends' tab that used to be there on twitter's web interface so you could not just look at a person's stream of updates, but also at these in the context of conversations happening amongst their social network (esp. as the @reply convention took hold).

Agree that FB status update feels much more like an invitation to a conversation rather than just an update, to the extent that I'd feel at least mildly upset if an update drew no response (but this may be as much due to the relative infrequency of my updates). OTOH with twitter, where I regularly have conversations, the expectations are different so it feels good when your tweets into the ether generate a response (either @reply or RT).

I tried linking twitter and FB updates when it was first possible, but soon stopped after realising that often the effect of this was that the FB status would be left as my final response in a conversation happening over on twitter. I am now more selective, using either the #fb tag (but this uses a precious 3 characters on twitter for something directed elsewhere), or checking the box in Tweetdeck. The audience is key to my decision to do this.

Posted by Stephen Viller | October 28, 2009 9:37 AM

Posted on October 28, 2009 09:37

Really great experience for danah's article and everyone's comments. In Taiwan people are always including Plurk to be compared with Twitter & Facebook updates, though I think partially originated from the *still* highly prevalent BBS "conversation" culture.

And I tried to translate danah's important arguments in this article into Chinese, which I found it very exciting that the points you made could be connected with ancient Chinese idioms. Those describing people's networking social situations are based on "sounds & smells" (聲息 in Chinese), which may unfold deeper thoughts toward the medium and messages social media site delivered.

Posted by Shih-Chieh Ilya Li | October 28, 2009 11:28 AM

Posted on October 28, 2009 11:28

Lloyd A Chumbley:

Let me take this a different direction. For me, Facebook is largely personal. It is about me, my family, my thoughts, my feelings. Consequently, I keep the network pretty personal. I often turn down Friend requests for this reason. Yes, there are some old friends I reconnect with and that is great but for the most part it is friends.

However, Twitter is about my world. Often my posts on Twitter are about the things around me which focus a lot on my career. New things like conferences I attend and cool things I encounter. I use Twitter to point people to other things. See the difference?

I think this distinction has lead to a personal (facebook) vs career (twitter) but it is more than this. It is about revealing myself vs redirecting.

Just thinking...

Posted by Lloyd A Chumbley | October 28, 2009 1:14 PM

Posted on October 28, 2009 13:14

LinkedIn Is Getting a Redesign [Pics] | via Mashable

Business social network LinkedIn, fresh off its milestone of 50+ million users, is now getting a makeover, and it definitely changes the way you use the social media website.

In a detailed blog post, the company announced that it has begun a limited test of its new design. It features a newer, longer top-level navigation bar, the removal of the dreaded left-hand navigation bar, and a cleaner overall look.


The best way to describe the new layout though is to place the old design and the new one side-by-side. First, here is the homepage as it currently exists:

Now, here is the new design for the homepage, courtesy of LinkedIn (LinkedIn


You’ll notice immediately that the emphasis is on the top navigation, that the main content has been pushed to the left hand side of the screen, and that each of the top menu items have a deeper web of subcategories under them (just look at the options under “Groups” as an example).

One more comparison. This is a profile page currently:

And here is the new one:

You’ll notice that content has been moved up the page (this is very important – it requires less scrolling and thus less chance of people bouncing off of the page) and a far stronger focus on the profile and its content.

The key to this entire design it seems is the removal of the left hand navigation bar, which we are fans of. It distracted users away from the important information on the page. While the design is still being tested and iterated upon, more and more users should be seeing this layout relatively soon.

Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Facebook's Click-Through Rates Flourish ... for Wall Posts - Ad Age

Facebook's Click-Through Rates Flourish ... for Wall Posts

Estimates From Social-Media Firm Vitrue as High as 6.49%

Posted by Abbey Klaassen on 08.13.09 @ 10:17 AM

Who says click-through rates on Facebook suck?

Sure, click-through rates for general display ads on Facebook have been criticized for being rather unimpressive, but click-through rates for content on brand pages' walls are as high as 6.49%, according to estimates from Vitrue, a startup that helps marketers manage their social-media presences.

Earlier this week Vitrue announced a Social Relationship Manager suite with new planning and reporting tools for social media, including Facebook, where much of Vitrue's work is done. One of the things it has introduced is URL tracking, so it can measure click-through rates for links in wall posts and newsfeeds. Naturally, we wanted to find out what a typical click-through rate is for those messages.

Getting at the answer is a bit of science and a bit of guesswork, Vitrue acknowledged. That's because it's not always clear how many people are exposed to a link in a wall post, as it's syndicated out through newfeeds. In some cases people aren't online or on Facebook, which hinders total exposure to the message. To get at its click-through-rate estimate, Vitrue assumed that about one-twelfth of the Facebook audience is on the site at any given time and able to be exposed to a message. "We seem to feel comfortable it passes the sniff test," CEO Reggie Bradford said.

How many fans a brand has is also a factor in calculating click-through rate -- it's the total number of clicks on a particular post divided by number of fans who would have seen it, a number that's adjusted to take into consideration that not every fan is on Facebook all day long.

Mr. Bradford explained: "If a site has 100 fans and your wall post gets five clicks, that's a 5% CTR. But if you assume only about 20% of those folks actually saw the post, it's really a 20% click-through rate." That's better than the click-through rate of the average e-mail campaign, he said, and certainly better than the rate for an online ad. It also doesn't count how many people commented on the post or said they liked it but didn't click through.

Of course, the more of the U.S. Facebook population that's on the site at any given time, increasing the number of potential exposures to a wall post, the lower the click-through rate potentially gets. Here's the breakdown, according to Vitrue's calculations, based on Quantcast data indicating that 90.8 million U.S. users visited the site in June 2009 for a total of 2.9 billion visits -- an average of 32 per person:


  • With the assumption that one-twelfth of the total U.S. Facebook audience is on the site at a given time, Vitrue data show a click-through rate of 6.49%.
  • With the assumption of one-eighth of the audience is on the site, Vitrue data show a click-through rate of 4.32%.
  • With the assumption of one-fourth of the audience is on the site, Vitrue data show a click-through rate of 2.12%.

Vitrue also broke down the clicks by demo -- age and gender. (Consider that younger demos are arguably overrepresented on Facebook):

  • 13 to 17: 40%
  • 18 to 24: 30%
  • 25 to 34: 14%
  • 35 to 44: 10%
  • 45 to 54: 4%
  • 55-plus: 2%
  • Female: 56%
  • Male: 44%

Of course, this doesn't mean marketers should go hog wild posting to their Facebook walls -- nothing's probably quicker to lose fans than a flood of marketing messages in a place where they're probably not to keen to see those anyway. As Michael Donnelly, group director of worldwide interactive marketing at Coca-Cola Co., which counts 3.6 million Facebook fans, put it to me in an interview yesterday: "They've fanned the Coca-Cola brand; they haven't opted in to be blasted with advertising."

What do you think about the click-through rates in wall posts? Do you run a brand-focused Facebook page? How do you communicate with your fans? Let us know in the comments.

Subscribe to comments on: Facebook's Click-Through Rates Flourish ... for Wall Posts


  By alyosha19 | Marina del Rey, CA August 13, 2009 12:24:47 pm:
Our agency manages a brand page with a rapidly, growing Facebook presence. What we have seen is that the paid media click through rate is better (though not outstanding) than the online media norm, it's the organic traffic and interaction rate which is outstanding. People are discovering our page through the Newsfeed, either by their friends joining, commenting, or liking the page.

We have reached a level of interaction that is a balance between our promotional posts, brand posts, and commenting back to our fans. What we are happy about is that consumers are now replying to other consumer comments, in a positive, friendly way. Overall, we are watching the conversation very closely on Facebook to keep our finger on the pulse and adjust our messaging accordingly.

  By joeldavis | london August 13, 2009 12:46:57 pm:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

We have completed some click rate research on social media sites. We are finding the CTR is highly impressive. The results are published on

agency:2 The Social Media Agency

  By lazerow | NY, NY August 13, 2009 02:15:22 pm:
Hi Abbey!

It's really too early to tell what the actual CTR is. However, the engagement on Facebook Pages and Twitter is THROUGH THE ROOF and any company that is not actively trying to figure out how to create an awesome Facebook Page and Twitter voice that engages consumers is, frankly, being grossly negligent.

We run FB Pages for tons of clients. One of the recent posts by our client Bud Light on their fan page received close to 4000 RESPONSES out of 147,000 fans. So that's close to a 2.5% ENGAGEMENT rate. That's not click through. That's people actually responding! Frankly, I think the numbers in your story are low based on waht we are seeing. (And, for the record, those 4000 people are connected to more than 400,000 people, who saw their response to Bud Light!)

This engagement between brands and consumers on Twitter, Facebook and other social nets is real today and every company needs to figure out how to leverage the social nets.

You can see some of this in action at these awesome, engaging Facebook Pages for several Buddy Media clients here:

Bud Light:


Michael Lazerow
CEO, Buddy Media (

Anyone who wants to talk further about pages can email me, DM me, FB me. As you can see, I'm excited about this space right now.

  By vandegri6 | SANTA MONICA, CA August 13, 2009 02:58:51 pm:
Having built and run many Facebook initiatives for major brands and agencies (our has over 865,000 fans for example), we carefully track ROI metrics using a variety of proprietary tools.

We routinely see 10,000+ responses to our interactive polls, printable coupons, etc. -- and all within 24 hours. For our posts, we get hundreds of responses within minutes. All this "fans" the growth of the base and buzz around the products.

Brands and agencies are wise to be moving money toward social. We're here to help...

Van Vandegrift
Executive Producer
van.vandegrift [at]

  By AkashPai | CUPERTINO, CA August 13, 2009 04:15:00 pm:
Michael and Abbey, I completely agree with you.
On another note, the consumer engagement is at a different level with social media outlets. CTR aside, we need to figure out better measurement metrics which take into account a user's engagement vs. clicks. CTR are for search and display ads, socia media needs better metrics. I'm sure you must have seen IAB's social media metric paper, it was good start but in my opinion still tied to the old way of measurement. Search and display will see a downturn in next 2-3 years (in my opinion). Would love to get your views as well.
  By salem | Canberra, NA August 14, 2009 02:44:37 am:

"If a site has 100 fans and your wall post gets five clicks, that's a 5% CTR. But if you assume only about 20% of those folks actually saw the post, it's really a 20% click-through rate."

20% of 100 fans see the post. That's 20 people. 5 of those click on the link. That's 5 out of 20, or 25%. Not 20%.

So either I am misunderstanding what a click-through rate is, or he sucks at maths.

  By targeted | sofia August 14, 2009 02:49:33 am:
"Mr. Bradford explained: "If a site has 100 fans and your wall post gets five clicks, that's a 5% CTR. But if you assume only about 20% of those folks actually saw the post, it's really a 20% click-through rate."

This statement is so redicilous, i'm stunned.

  By salem | Canberra, NA August 14, 2009 03:10:48 am:
It's ok, redicilous isn't even a word.
  By SkylarB | USA, WA August 15, 2009 04:19:50 am:
Indeed, advertising is the major cause on how a company earns. One of their way in promoting a company's new product is Internet marketing. Since more people are joining the social networking site, and it's also a great place to advertise for a business – it's free advertising space, and social networks have become a marketing hotbed over the last few years. There are precious few opportunities for a business to have access to so many potential customers, which can be a great way to build customer rapport, as long as you aren't spamming anyone – customers hate that. And since the website is free to sign up for, a business can start advertising on Facebook without needing payday loans to start an ad campaign. Follow the link to read more about Facebook advertising:
  By KetaKeta | Tel Aviv August 17, 2009 04:23:29 am:
We find that CTR's on social ads are usually lower than average, but good content on Fan Pages brings a higher than average response.

I like Nine West's initiatives on their fan page- they frequently post open-ended questions for fashion opinion and likes and dislikes from their fans. Here's their page:

We ran a FB campaign for last year to communicate with participants of a contest. This initiative was very successful. is now using the page for their latest campaign, Staycations Suck, and they've received some really nice attention for it. here's their page:

We love tweeting about exceptional Facebook and Twitter campaigns. Follow us @ketaketa.

  By bennyradjasa | New york, NY August 20, 2009 10:42:13 am:
Hi Abbey, one question we need to ask our self, are these data statically significant. If so what is the lift in the KPI vs Cost? This now created a new angle what really are the true cost of acquiring engagement. Some people will debate the engagement quality of the click coming from banners, search, Facebook page, and etc. Rightfully so, each of these click source have different value to it, and the value of each source differ from brand to brand. However we can start with a common denominator to partially answer this, which is the CPC of such clicks.
So we should ask our self how much it costs to get clicks from Facebook pages and let say from banner display and or SEM. If you put it in such a filter, then most people will realized that most of these Facebook pages are not very efficient. The other side of the argument to this is that some brands do want to engage marketing in the groundswell, and if done correctly such activity ROI will be positive, if there are enough people engaging in it.

Benny Radjasa


more insight on why social media are a different medium

5 Tips for Social Media Marketing Success | (via Web Ad.vantage)

When selecting the sites  to target in your social media marketing efforts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of just going after big fish like Facebook and Twitter, simply because they’re more popular.  But smaller, lesser-known social media sites can be huge winners, especially if they cater to a very specific topic or niche audience.  For almost any given topic, you can bet there’s a social media site of some sort dedicated to it, even if it’s just a forum or message board.  What’s more important than getting your message in front of the most eyeballs?  Getting your message in front of eyeballs that are attached to the people who would be most interested in what you’re selling!

with all the noise going on about myspace's demise, refreshing to hear an  alternative pov

soylent flickr is people! tagging comes to photo-sharing site

facebook gets a taste of its own medicine as popular photo-sharing site flickr adds tagging. guess they saw facebook "innovating" with a number of twitter features and figured good for the goose etc.

seriously though, this raised the same concerns in my mind that image tagging did in facebook. what if some old girlfriend decided to post the "artistic" photos we took one drunken night senior year? at least in the photo above, you can't tell it's grain punch and peyote in the styrofoam cups.

flickr is quick to reassure, stating they have adequate protections in place to satisfy the most privacy-obsessed. "people not on flickr cannot be tagged without their permission." I envision a mysterious apparition knocking on windows late at night, but it's probably something more mundane like an email. as with facebook, if you remove your tag from a photo, no one, even the image owner, can put it back (not sure if they can't retag with a demeaning sobriquet you hoped they had forgotten, but let's hope for the best) and, as on facebook, you can mandate that you cannot be tagged in any photos.

hey, maybe this is a strategy to get people who don't use or care about flickr to care about and use it, if only to keep evidence of indiscretion at bay

If you're on flickr but don't use it much (like me), what then? will I be forced to wait until one of my infrequent logins to learn why my hipper, flickr-ati friends have been hiding smiles?

I will investigate further and report back. stay tuned.

ps - thanks to lifehacker for the heads up

Keepers Of The Court: Foursquare Superusers - TechCrunch

Screen shot 2009-10-13 at 3.55.01 PM


is a company with all of four employees. Yes, they just hired their fourth, we’ve learned (hello, Nathan Folkman

, formerly of Betaworks

, where he worked on

). And yes, that’s a fitting number. You might think that a company that recently closed some funding would ramp up hiring a little faster, but the truth is that they don’t have to. Why? Because their users are already doing quite a bit of work to expand and improve the service.

You see, some users of Foursquare that are very active earn the label “Superuser.” These are users with privileges that allow them to edit certain aspects of the site, which I’ll get into below. Full disclosure: I’m one of them, but only because I use the service so often. But I’m also only a “Superuser! – Level 1.” Today, the service started upgrading a very select group of users to the new “Superuser! – Level 2″ distinction. In total, less than 1% (0.7% to be exact) of Foursquare’s user base received that distinction.

The plan is to eventually have three levels of Superusers, but right now, there are only these two, Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley

tells us. Level 1 users are able to edit venues (including names and cross streets), mark places as “closed,” and note duplicates. These new Level 2 users are able to merge venues themselves when there are duplicates. Eventually, Level 3 is likely to contain elements such as adding badges (rewards you get for certain check-in patterns), and policing other users, Crowley says.

But the Superuser functionality is more than just for show, or a small game within the game. It’s actually helping Foursquare in a meaningful way. Shortly after the group of users got upgraded to Level 2 today, Crowley noted that, “we had some 2000+ duplicate venues in the system 30 mins ago. We’re [now] down to 400.” He followed up shortly after that noting, “it took less than 2 hours for users to go thru 90% of our merge queue.”

Those are some very impressive results, and suggest that Foursquare has a community that may be able to self-police itself like Wikipedia does. If that’s the case, the company can focus less on hiring people do to the tedious stuff, and more time building new features and expanding to new cities.

It also will give them more time to work on potential business deals, which will eventually make the site money.

Speaking of that, there’s a pretty nifty one in Las Vegas this week if you happen to be there: If you’re over 21, stop by the Planet Hollywood Hotel for a free shot at Koi Restaurant. You simply need to check in there to get it.

more about why foursquare is poised for greatness. I wrote about foursquare yesterday