Comparing Facebook’s Mass Appeal To Twitter’s Niche Appeal

Comparing Facebook’s Mass Appeal To Twitter’s Niche Appeal

What enabled Facebook to become more popular than Twitter? What does Twitter need to do to grow like Facebook?

Plus Aziz
  • 5 october 2011

A website’s interface and functionality can change everything about the experience of visitors and readers. In a concise reflective piece where tech writer Nick Bilton is having dinner with his little sister, he compares the two platforms.

Twitter has 100 million users, 50% of which Tweet regularly. Facebook has 500 million active daily users. Why the stark discrepancy?

The guiding idea is that though Twitter is simpler and more basic, it is also more confusing. Nick reflects on why Facebook has surpassed Facebook so dramatically in the numbers:

There are other reasons people prefer Facebook over Twitter, including its integration with hundreds of thousands of Web sites, its photo features, news feed, connections with others, and more. But if Twitter hopes to grow at the pace of Facebook, it will have to figure out how to stop thinking in @ symbols, and start thinking like my sister.

He points to Twitter’s ultimate weakness: search. Unlike Facebook or Google, Twitter does not have autocomplete in their text fields and many rely on Google to search Twitter handles in general. Additionally, Twitter has a unique language that is cryptic to some (i.e. symbols like the # or @). Facebook seems to be less afraid to refresh their interface very often, knowing that despite initial user discomfort, they are doing what’s best for the company and its users.

Beyond user-base, what are your opinions on the differences between Facebook and Twitter? What drivers are shaping each company’s growth and what should Twitter if it wanted to be more inclusive (which might not be a good strategic goal to begin with)?

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