Twitter Sponsored Tweets: The Impact for Marketers (via Steve Rubel)

Big day in Twitterland with the roll-out of their new ad platform. This morning I gave an interview to my friends at, where I am a columnist, on my thoughts and hopes for the platform. The full interview follows below...

Forbes: What's most surprising about Twitter's Ad platform?

Steve Rubel: What's most surprising about the rollout is how conservative it is. It's clear that Twitter thought a lot about all three of its primary audiences - users, developers and advertisers - and devised a system that seems to respect the needs of all three. They could have been a lot more aggressive by focusing only on display or rich media but they chose a more measured, contextual approach, which I think will help them in the long run.

Forbes: What do you see as the most significant component?

The most significant component is resonance--the nine factors that Twitter will use to measure the performance of the ads. If an ad isn't performing well across all of these key performance indicators, then the ads will be taken out of rotation. It's very similar to Google's model, which has helped the ads maintain a high degree of relevance.

Forbes: What about it will be most useful to marketers?

The most intriguing aspect of the platform is that it allows businesses to add a degree of permanence to their tweets. This means that they can maintain some degree of visibility, long after they have floated downstream.

The reason this is significant is that the "destination Web era" (where we browse from site to site) is over. Today, more of us are consuming content in stream form. If you're not in the stream when a tweet hits, you're likely to miss it. With this new program, advertisers can now pay to get around this - which is significant - and target their tweets accordingly.

Working for a public relations firm, I am particularly intrigued by how Twitter is positioning it as a reputation management service for companies in crisis.

Forbes: What could Twitter have done better with its ad platform plans?

It's a bit early to tell, but so far nothing. It might have been better if they opened up the process a bit to developers and power users to weigh in, but I am not seeing any kind of backlash so far. I believe that Twitter's audience wants to see them monetize in a way that allows them to maintain and grow the platform they love. The trick is to do so in a way where the advertising adds value to the experience and doesn't get in the way. This seems to hit this nail on the head, but time will be the ultimate jury.

Forbes: What will happen to the other paid Tweet platforms?

Twitter is at a crossroads right now. It is starting to add some of the features that have allowed some vendors in its ecosystem that filled voids to thrive. The trick for these platforms will be to stay ahead of the game. Ideally Twitter will open a dialogue with them to give them a sense of the markets they plan to enter and those they plan to avoid so that the ecosystem can build viable business models without having to worry about them being disrupted by the mother ship.

Forbes: Is there anything about this ad platform that is disruptive either to other social ad platforms or to the way that marketers interact with social consumers?

It's a bit early to tell how disruptive this will be. It all depends on how well the ads are received by the community and how well they perform. It could potentially create a nice direct response platform that complements other, brand-oriented models like those that have made ads on Facebook and YouTube successful.

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?

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

Blogging Continues to Rumble Along | Mark Evans Tech

here's an excerpt from a blog post by mark evans about blogworld expo, going on this week:

blogTwitter is sexy and Facebook now has more than 300 million registered users. But what about blogging? Blogging isn’t sexy anymore and it is being assailed as a passing fancy, especially by the mainstream media.

The truth, however, is the blogosphere is doing just fine: the number of blogs, blog posts and people reading blogs continues to grow. Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to launch blogs as part of its mad scramble to embrace the social Web.

What became obvious during BlogWorld Expo is that blogging is the solid citizen of the social Web, while Twitter and Facebook are the wild children. Another reality is that Twitter and Facebook are, in many cases, complementary tools used by bloggers rather than tools that replace blogging.

Before anyone writes off blogs, think again.

More: Here’s an audio clip from social media maven Robert Scoble on whether blogging during tech conferences such as BlogWorld Expo is dead.

not sure about the claimed attacks on blogging by "the mainstream media" that mark assails here. maybe the canadian press has a secret vendetta not shared by their american counterparts?

in addition, is it really surprising that a meeting called "blogworld" would put blogs at the center of the social media universe (talking pre-galilean here of course)? blogs are content repositories and as such, are essential to any inbound marketing strategy. but facebook is the public face of the social web - to call it a "wild child" seems disingenuous.

On Twitter, Information Beats Sentiment

On Twitter, Information Beats Sentiment

Written by Sarah Perez / October 2, 2009 6:22 AM / 4 Comments

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recently revealed the results of a study which looked into how people were using Twitter to talk about products. Companies, of course, fear what a negative barrage of tweets can do to their brand, leading many to establish Twitter accounts themselves to provide information, customer service, and support. As it turns out, these businesses may not need to worry too much about what the "Twitter effect" can do their image after all. The study revealed that the number of brand-related tweets where sentiment is expressed is not the dominating force that you may think. In fact, the majority of tweets mentioning a brand are merely casual comments or tweets from someone giving or seeking information. And when sentiment is expressed, it's generally positive.

More Tweets are Information-Seeking, Not Opinions

According to the study, which looked at 150,000 tweets, 11.1% of the brand-related tweets were information-providing while 18.1% were information-seeking. The latter of these two is especially useful to companies looking to understand what questions and concerns customers have about their products. However, the large majority of the tweets - 48.5% - were simply comments made in passing which mentioned the brand but whose primary focus was something else.

The remaining 22.3% of tweets were sentiment-related, meaning tweets in which a user was expressing an opinion about a brand, either negative or positive. What was surprising about this subset was that users were more likely to express positive tweets than they were to complain.

Why So Cheery, Twitter?

This seems odd, actually, given that the Internet has typically been a place for disgruntled consumers to rant and rave more so than it's been a place to praise what works. You can see this type of negative sentiment expression everywhere from online forums to whiny blog posts about how such-and-such company "did me wrong!" In fact, the desire to express a negative opinion even seems to dominate feedback systems like blog comments, for example. Rarely does a writer receive comments like "great post" or "I totally agree" - rather, more comments are resemble "you're wrong and here's why" or "how could you not mention X?"

That's why it's strange to hear that on Twitter, it's positive sentiment that reigns. What makes this platform more different than the rest of the Internet as a whole? Are Twitter users simply happier people? Or has the data been skewed by marketing campaigns where Twitter users are encouraged to tweet nice things about the company in order to win a prize?

Perhaps it's because Twitter simply makes it easier to express yourself, allowing for a better balance between negative and positive sentiments. Typically, sharing your opinion on the web meant exerting a good deal of effort. Writing a blog post, recording a video, or leaving a blog comment are things that take time. For the most part, busy, information-overloaded web surfers aren't going to take that time unless something really gets them fired up. Twitter, on the other hand, is so quick and easy to use, you can post a missive of joy in only seconds. And the 140-character limit allows you a no-pressure way of doing so.

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  1. We're looking at millions of brand-related tweets to create and I confirm that most of them are neutral, some are positive and few are negative.
    The percentage of positive tweets is really relevant if you compare this number with other brands. One number alone does not really make sense.

     Posted by: Florent Author Profile Page

    | October 2, 2009 7:19 AM

  • Without going into a long dissertation on the psychology of color, I'd say a contributing factor to Twitter positiveness is the GUI.

    "happy", "cute", bordering on cartoonish ( in a good way ) look and feel, the great emphasis on left-to-right page read with profile pictures being first, plus the subtle use of serif and sans serif fonts, all subliminally contribute to positive input.

    Posted by: Todd | October 2, 2009 7:23 AM

  • I soo... wish you guys (and e-marketer, who reports on the study) would include the citation to the original source. Was this study published? Where? Who are the authors? If I want to read the original study, where do I find it?

    I assume it's based on this news release from PSU: - and they don't provide a citation either :(

     Posted by: Mihaela (Dr. V) Author Profile Page

    | October 2, 2009 7:42 AM

  • Different purpse for communication. If I'm in a support forum - chances are I have a problem. With blogs -the format itself seems to solicit feedback - "here's info, little opinion, what do you think?". So the commenter goes into critical thinking mode. Same story with forums. Now social networking on the other hand is a different story. For most of us Twitter is not yet a forum for conversation, more like shouting into a clammed of other voices. So we tend to speak with emotion, especially current emotion. So it's more natural to say "I love Foldgers". Plus, how many blog posts make you think about the morning cup.

     Posted by: Rob Colburn Author Profile Page

    | October 2, 2009 7:43 AM

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