Both Facebook and Twitter are powerful social media platforms that businesses should take advantage of to engage users in building brand visibility and a loyal customer base. Oftentimes, the marketing goals of these brands are similar; yet, to accomplish these goals there are two very distinct tactics depending on if it is through Facebook or through Twitter. The first and most obvious difference between the two social media platforms is sheer number of users; Facebook has over 600 million users while Twitter has less than a third at about 175 million. This is important to keep in mind when understanding how best to communicate with customers.
When attempting to interact with customers through these two social media platforms, a brand manager needs to first understand the strengths of both Facebook and Twitter.
Many retail companies use Facebook to gather information and customer reactions to new products. When Sports Authority posted a status promoting its new Outdoor Adventure Gear, it was followed by many comments with a variety of feedback regarding the new product. To many brands Facebook can serve as grounds for research and development, all guided by the customers themselves. Additionally, conversation with patrons is not the only form of interaction Facebook offers to a brand; there is a multitude of extra tools such as applications that Facebook has to offer.
Meanwhile, Twitter offers the instant satisfaction of insight into a customer’s thoughts. Reactions on Twitter are less edited and more often intended for the brand to see or even respond to the tweets. Not to mention, brands marketing through Twitter have to opportunity to track certain topics or phrases through the hashtag function. Hashtaging allows words to trend which ultimately creates more buzz about certain topics and can help gain attention and gather more followers to a specific brand. Twitter also makes it remarkably easy to spread ideas and build a community through @replies and retweets.
Another interesting thing to look at when comparing Facebook and Twitter is the social currency that sparks interest in the brand. Facebook’s end goal is to encourage conversation on a status update and push said users to share with their friends. So the ultimate Facebook currency would have to be the Like button. The more Likes a brand page has, the more engagement and potential reach it can obtain. On the other hand, Twitter’s value currency measurement lies in the retweet, increasing awareness and hopefully gaining more followers. While conversations are not as a big a factor for Twitter as they are for Facebook, hashatgs still enable brand managers to track those conversations that do take place. Although it is important to realize the best way to spread that message and give said hashtag some momentum is through the retweet.
Understanding the respective strengths and weaknesses between Twitter and Facebook, and how consumers are using these social media tools, gives brands the ability to interact, engage, and gain loyal fans and followers. Knowledge of these powerful social media tools is the first step toward engaging and building communities in the social spectrum.