Twitter vs. Facebook

A screen capture of one of my Hootsuite dashboards.

A screen capture of one of my Hootsuite dashboards.

Someone told me that Facebook has all the people you knew in high school, and Twitter has all the people you wish you knew in high school.

Twitter all the way for me.

Yet Facebook has its benefits. As with every tool, it's about finding the right one for the job.


Twitter is about talking with people. You may not know these people in real life—Twitter isn't about keeping in touch with old friends. Twitter links people with similar interests and encourages them to have conversations. Also, it directly connects users to people on the front lines of news and information.

On Twitter, one person can listen to someone without that someone needing to reciprocate. For example, Eminem can follow me if he's interested in what I have to say. However, I don't have to follow him back. (I’m probably not interested in what Eminem has to say. Like his music, though.)

I think of Twitter like a stream. I wade into the tweet stream, mention something of interest to me or comment on someone else’s thought, we chat for a bit, and the conversation floats away.

Twitter is all about the dialogue.

And because Twitter is all about the dialogue--and not about the profile--there aren't picture albums (although you can post pictures) and no clearly defined groups. People use hashtags to create group chats, but these chats are still part of the overall tweet stream--not segmented out into a special page.


Facebook is great for updating people about your world and staying up to date on theirs. For this reason, it tends to connect people who know each other in real life. Most people do not accept friend requests from strangers--or send them to strangers.

Photo albums, lengthy "about" sections, status updates, lists of things a person likes and his hobbies--Facebook is all about the profile. On Facebook, users craft images of themselves, showing who they are today (or who they want people to think they are).

Facebook is great for building a personal brand.

And because Facebook is all about the profile, Facebook is great for featuring items that you want exposed to the world. Things stick on a Facebook wall for an eternity. Even further, Facebook has a special algorithm that emphasizes posts that get the most interaction (e.g., comments, likes, clicks). So if you have something that you want people to see for a long while, Facebook’s your place.

Twitter > Facebook

So why do I prefer Twitter over Facebook?

I love Facebook for watching my cousins' kids grow up and getting glimpses of friends in faraway places. I met a wonderful couple living in Houston temporarily from Japan, and I'm sure we would have lost touch when they moved back if it weren't for Facebook. Same goes for a number of my college buddies. And I try to post life events of my own there, to keep them updated on the big stuff.

For the day to day, though, I rarely have anything to say worthy of long-term standing on a Facebook wall. I enjoy putting out a thought on Twitter, talking about it for a bit with others interested in the topic, and moving on. Or checking in, finding an interesting conversation, contributing to it, and then returning to my day.

And I will say: Every person I encountered first on Twitter who I later met in person is fantastic. As my friend said, these were the people I wish had been there in high school.

Weigh in. Twitter or Facebook?