Has Twitter Changed Facebook?

Facebook was pretty busy last week as they released their new Facebook Lite version of their platform and also announced a new feature that includes @mentions within your status updates. Though big releases, the main conversations I’ve seen revolved around Facebook’s mimicking of Twitter.

Now, there are similarities and no-doubt Facebook copied the @mentions feature from Twitter, but these comparisons have lead me into a reoccurring thought about the Facebook experience and how Twitter has changed it for me.


To put things into perspective, Twitter has typically been a place where we (bubble-dwellers) connect with a community of smart industry professionals from across the world. It’s free-flowing, quick, and concise – but yet gives us the ability to create strong relationships with people that we learn and grow from every day. On the flip – Facebook, for me, has always been more of a personal avenue where I could let loose a bit more and share different types of ideas, media & thoughts with my friends – but without that professional ‘feel’ that Twitter brings about.

Twitter vs. Facebook Voice

With the evolution of these communities and how we network & connect with one another online, I’ve slowly opened up my Facebook network to SM/PR pros that I’ve gotten to know fairly well on Twitter – this, after years of connections with just close friends from college and otherwise. I understand these platforms are what we make of them, but the experience for me has been tricky as far as the content I publish there and the ‘voice’ people hear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m myself every time I step foot in this e-world, but let’s not fool ourselves to think that certain communities of friends don’t react differently depending on what you talk about – that’s the voice I’m talking about. So, where is that fine line between your professional/career-oriented voice vs. let-loose/happy-hour voice?

Can’t Please Everyone

I’ve been a lot more active on Facebook in the past month and have seen these differences in engagement between the various ‘mini-niches’ of friends. My close hometown friends don’t care to comment on Mashable articles, while my friends from Twitter typically don’t comment on more personal posts that grabs the attention of close friends & family – and I’m OK with that. I’ve come to realize that I won’t be able to please or engage everyone with every update or post.

What it really comes down to is who you’re comfortable with adding. Some people feel that Facebook is a friends-only affair (which I can relate to), while others have opened the dam and let a rush of people in, all the way to their 5,000 friend-limit.

Personally, I want to know you and have built a relationship with you to where I’m comfortable with emailing or giving you a ring. I guess my fine-line is somewhere between personal-only and dam-breaker.

What’s Your Experience?

What’s your thought on how these networks intermingle in today’s open-book online world? Has your Facebook experience changed as Twitter and our communities continue to evolve? Let’s hear it.

10 comments On Has Twitter Changed Facebook?

  • I think this is an interesting issue because many people in the social media space handle it so differently. Personally, I’m probably a little bit further to the personal use of Facebook than you seem to be. I’ve friended very few of my social media contacts unless I’ve built a really strong relationship with them. As you said, I’m not a different person in either medium, but they do show different sides of myself simply because of who my audience is.

    Even though that’s how I personally use Facebook, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way for people to use it. Twitter has really just given me more of an avenue to talk about professional issues and learn from others.

    In regards to Facebook being changed by Twitter, I definitely think Zuckerberg is keeping a very close eye on the folks at Twitter πŸ™‚

  • Sonny,

    In the post you linked to, I talked about how I’ve decided to keep Facebook for true friends, but that doesn’t exclude people I’ve met and gotten to know well through social media – of the 700+ connections I have on Facebook, I’d say 10-15 of them are people I’ve built a strong relationship with that started online – when I say strong, I mean that I’ve either met them offline after repeated contact, or we regularly comment on each others blogs and have extensive contact through social media.

    The point is, promiscuous linking (friending people I don’t know) decreases the value of my Facebook experience, so I keep the ratio of weak ties to true friends very low. On Twitter and Friendfeed, promiscuous linking is exactly the opposite – it increases the value of my experience because I allows me to meet new people, learn and get exposed to new ideas and my activity doesn’t affect anyone else in my “community” because there’s no central spaces (like my wall) where people have personal conversations – the twitter stream just doesn’t work that way. The DNA is different.

    Now that said, I’ve been holding back the dam. More and more people want to connect with me via Facebook – Twitter-style. My concern is this…

    Where does it end? Social media is only JUST becoming mainstream. If you arent discerning about who you’re connected to now and take a long-term approach, when does it become unmanageable? With every person you add, you’re diluting your ability to focus personal attention on everyone else and at the end of the day, that’s what relationship building is all about, right? Maybe we’ll see tools get implemented that allow us to manage thousands of people and focus our attention on groups better…that’s why I asked the question…what’s the best way? If you’re going to be more open and keep accepting people for the rest of your life (I’m only 30) where do you put the dam so that you’re getting the most value for your effort?


  • This is something to be thinking about! I definitely think FB is trying really hard to catch up with Twitter which I guess was expected. And yeah, as far as my own experience is concerned: I used to be one of those “friends only” FB users, strongly guarding my photos and information. But now, it’s another story. I’ve made some great friends on Twitter, and though I’m still selective about who I add on FB, a lot of my Twitter friends have translated into FB contacts.

    Great website, btw. Love the design! Tc πŸ™‚

  • Great read. Thoughtful article. I think this is timely too, as you point out, because Facebook appears to be moving closer & closer to Twitter-like interactions. However, for me, the interaction is very different in each platform. While I often see people sending out “Are we connected on Facebook? [Link]” updates on Twitter, I choose to try to separate the two. For me, that is the blurry line. I’ve conceded to have my work and personal life overlap in most things. Working with friends and going out for non-business drinks w/ clients. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll accept a friendship on Facebook. For me, that is still dependent on actually being friends.

    Thanks for the great read!


  • Really great thoughts everybody! Seems like most are selective to a certain degree vs. making it a free for all friend-hoarding session. To each their own really, but without that selectivity, you lose much of the personal feel of Facebook.

    @Steffan – you make some really great points, especially about promiscuous linking and the DNA of each of these networks. They each are very different in their own right and the makeup of Facebook and how I’ve perceived that community vs. Twitter is what got me writing these thoughts today.

    To your point of where do we put this dam so that we can still hold on to the value from FB – I think for those that have similar thoughts like ours, we’ll remain selective because of our idea of Facebook’s DNA. We’re going to continue building relationships through Twitter and the like and if those equate to more meaningful connections that we’d like to take to FB, then so be it. People are looking for numbers but it’s not a race, especially when it comes to relationship building.

    On the flip, if you’re reaching your 5k limit on Facebook and then making a Fan Page for your ‘following’, does that extra work really equate to the benefit of not only yourself but that community that wants to connect with you? Are we doing it for connecting or for the popularity contest that Social Media can be?

    Definitely a lot to think about and would love to revisit this thought a few years down the road and see where things are.

    Appreciate you stopping by, Steffan, and sharing your thoughts!

  • Sonny,

    Great post. Since I started on Twitter about 6 months ago, I have used Facebook significantly less – specifically in the last 2 months when I’ve gotten more comfortable on Twitter. I find that I’m learning on Twitter from those in my industry (PR/marketing), so somehow that makes it OK to spend hours on it!

    I used Facebook differently. As you mentioned, my FB friends are people I actually have met and have known for a while.

    Having said that I used FB and Twitter entirely differently, I’m not sure why my activity on FB has decreased while my activity on Twitter has increased.

  • @Lindsey – perhaps your activity has changed because of the vast difference in the networks and how much you’re learning from Twitter in comparison? πŸ™‚ That difference is what sets the two apart and how each are used (and how often, in your case. Appreciate your comment!

  • This article summed up what I’ve been thinking for the last couple of years…it had grown increasingly difficult to control the different privacy levels on the different platforms. My Facebook account is mostly old college and high school buddies, and I certainly don’t want that world colliding with my current professional relationships (which I maintain on LinkedIn for the most part). Twitter I use mainly for work-related contacts, but I do have several different accounts with different purposes on Twitter…

    To help attack this dilemma, our company has come up with a new social network called LiveCloud. In LiveCloud you can put your contacts into different groups, and target each piece of content (even multimedia files) to specific groups. You can post a journal entry visible only to yourself, post a birth announcement just to family members, post an article for colleagues, or blog to the entire world. It’s integrated with Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube right now, with more integration on the way.

    Sorry to sound like a commercial, and I usually try to avoid that sort of thing in commenting, but your article really targeted the exact issue we are trying to solve.

    Back to my comment—-I wonder if the way people are using both Facebook and Twitter reflect their origins. Since Facebook originated as a college buddy directory, perhaps it will always have that flavor. Twitter seems to have gained momentum as a “how many followers can I get” app, and many users are obsessed with the numbers game. I’ll be curious to check back later, as well, to see how this all shakes out!

    Thanks for the thoughtful piece.

  • Nice post, Sonny! I’m not sure I can reasonably comment considering my detachment from Facebook, but since I’m being pushed more and more to reactivate my account on FB I think this is worth addressing.

    Right now, my focus is on finding work, so I spend most of my time networking and chatting for business. That, for me, has happened almost exclusively on Twitter, and I have a hard time visualizing moving that kind of communication to Facebook. FB = social, in my eyes. The funny thing is, a good number of organizations I’m interested in working with and getting to know better have joined FB and are engaging WELL with their fans. I actually was asked in an interview if I was a fan of that particular company on FB and I had to pull out my story about quitting FB to save myself.

    I don’t like the idea of cross populating my Twitter network with FB (once I join again), but I see the potential to build even stronger business relationships on FB by letting people see that more laid-back side of me. In fact, the people who’ve been bugging me to get back on Facebook are fellow Twitterers.

    What to do? I’ll probably get back on and revisit some of my privacy settings, but, like you, I realize that if I combine both personal and professional worlds I won’t be able to please all the people all the time.

  • I often tell people to choose a platform that allows you to more comfortably express yourself. For some people that’s Facebook (and privacy controls b/c Twitter’s to “open”). For other people, it’s Twitter.

    Personally, I engage with people through both. I use both as a place of business but also as a place to express myself and who I am. I draw a line at a certain point (some people don’t, I do).

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