Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been using these two social media tools for a few years now. And here’s the take-home.
I liken Facebook to a class reunion.
I liken Twitter to a huge roundtable discussion.
Like a class reunion, Facebook is great for reconnecting with old friends. Getting updates on their lives. Updating them on your life. And making new friends. Like a class reunion, there are multiple private conversations going on in different parts of the room at the same time.
Twitter is like a large roundtable discussion on various and sundry topics that’s televised for all to see (if they tune into the channel). Experts are part of the discussion. And so are neophytes. Each person has the floor for a few seconds, and others respond to them instantly. Then someone else has the floor, and others respond instantly. And on and on it goes.
Facebook is better for connecting, reconnecting, and keeping up with friends as well as making new ones. Twitter is better for sharing and gaining information, knowledge, and resources.
Facebook encourages you to stay within the network for your communication. Twitter is a jumping-off point that hands you multitudes of resources to go somewhere else and learn.
About two years ago, my friend Leonard Sweet encouraged me to begin using Twitter. He said it changed his life.
So I did.
At first, I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t exactly “get it” (anyone feel better now?). Plus, a lot of the stuff I saw people Tweeting about were beyond boring (for me at least). So I didn’t use it whole-heartedly.
But in time, that changed.
I now believe that Twitter is one of the most intelligent/resourceful community on the planet.
Think about it. 190 million users (at the time of this writing). Experts from every field from around the globe. Interacting. Asking and answering questions. Sharing useful knowledge and resources. And for Christians, sharing the Lord and the things that concern Him.
Since using Twitter, I’ve developed valuable relationships. And I’ve learned a ton. And I hope that I’ve enriched others through it as well.
Also: If you’re interested in following important events as they happen (blow-by-blow), Twitter has become the social media for this all over the world. (Take the revolution in Egypt as an example.) Those who follow an event on Twitter are “in the know” before any news-organization grabs hold of it.
Things For Which I Use Twitter
- To get group answers to questions. In the past, I’ve had hair-pulling problems with Windows, Word, Facebook, etc. I tweet my questions, and within seconds, I’ll receive instant responses from many different people from all over the world. To date, every question I’ve posted has been answered.
- To meet new people with common interests. Just reply to someone’s tweet, and there’s a fair chance you’ll get a response. They don’t have to follow you to see your tweet and respond. You can tweet authors, speakers, and other experts. In this way, Twitter is a great tool to meet new people and interact with them. (Of course, if you’re snarky, nasty, or defamatory, don’t expect the person to reply.)
- To provide answers to people’s questions. If someone tweets a question, and I can help them find the answer, I throw in. It’s always better to give than to receive.
- To share useful resources that I’ve found. Whether a book, article, email, blog post, audio, essay, film, etc. Then it spreads to many others via a Retweet. Case in point: When compiling this blog post, I tweeted this: “Writing a blog post on how I think Twitter is more beneficial than Facebook. Any other posts on the topic that I could link to?” The links at the bottom of this post are from those who responded on Twitter. Kewl, eh?
- To keep up with other authors and bloggers I respect as well as with friends. Some would say “use Facebook for this.” But it’s really not the same. First, Facebook limits your friends to 5,000. There’s no limit to Twitter. Second, it’s hard to keep up with everyone’s status feed. Not everyone’s statuses show up on your home feed. In fact, most don’t. Twitter, on the other hand, allows you to follow whomever you want. And it’s easy to not miss a beat from those you really like to read.
- To share quotes that have impressed or impacted me. I post these quotes when I find them. Some of them usually end up in my upcoming books. Not a few times someone has tweeted back saying, “That quote was exactly what I needed right now.” That’s always encouraging. Especially given that I queue them up long before they are posted.
- Twitter is viral in spreading an idea or message. Facebook is good for this also. The Retweet makes it easy on Twitter.
- I often use Twitter to promote other writers, bloggers, and new authors. I enjoy doing this. Some authors (like my good friend Jon Zens, for example) deserve more visibility.
- Twitter is highly conversational, relational, and participatory. I’m an extrovert, so I enjoy socializing with people. Especially about spiritual things. Twitter is a rich, ongoing conversation with many different people on many different topics. Among Christians who love Christ, it’s like an enlarged, public, cross-denominational, electronic open-participatory church gathering. And you can tune out trolls, paying no attention to them. Click here to see one blogger make some compelling observations about this.
- To have some good-hearted banter with another Tweeter. This is always fun, and a nice break from the stresses of life.
- Twitter is fun. Sometimes I’ll ask “top 2 favorite comedies” and get tons of replies. Some of which I’ve never seen (so my Netflix queue grows). Or I’ll tweet some lyrics from a song, and people will reply with the rest of the lyrics. (It’s always fun to post from obscure songs and see who knows them.)
- Alerting my readers to new resources I may have created. Since the people who follow you on Twitter want to know the next thing you’re creating — be it a blog post, article, interview, book, etc. — Twitter is a great venue for blessing them with such information.
The Downside of Facebook
I am well aware that one can automatically link their Tweets up to their Facebook pages. But I’ve never cared for that idea as I’ve always used Facebook for reconnecting with old friends, family, and making new friends (particularly those who have read my books). Also, I’m using Facebook less and less as it’s becoming more and more intrusive and invasive.
For instance, if someone is part of a group or page, they can now automatically add their friends without their consent or knowledge. All surveys I’ve seen suggest that people DO NOT like this. You have to remove yourself to get out of the group or page after being “joined” without your consent.
Also, Facebook isn’t moderated well. I’ve seen a lot of people get mistreated and hurt there (unfortunately, by other Christians who were rude, insensitive, or snarky). Some of these people ended up deactivating their accounts as a result.
All told: I prefer the benefits that Twitter offers and would encourage you to join if you haven’t yet. Oh, and if you don’t “get it,” don’t feel bad. I didn’t either at first. But you will if you hang on. Join me at http://twitter.com/FrankViola and get involved in the conversation.