Why Twitter can kill Facebook

Recently Twitter has started to go mainstream (well in the UK and US).  These past few weeks have seen Twitter mentioned on the BBC (see Declan Curry from BBC’s Working Lunch), radio and in most of the UK Newspapers, especially since Jonathan Ross started “tweeting”.

What is becoming clearer and clearer as time progresses and more interesting people join twitter is that the second it reaches non-geeks, it could kill off Facebook.


Facebook is useful for following main reasons:-

  1. Finding old friends – since the demise of Friends Reunited in the UK all my old school pals are on FB.
  2. Keeping up to date with what people are doing through status-updates (notice the once empty box now says “What are you doing now?”).
  3. Looking at photographs of friends.
  4. Emailing friends/people.
  5. Live Chat.

That’s all.  Throwing stuff, the apps etc, are totally useless in reality.  Humans are interested in looking at people, seeing how they are doing (what they are doing now) and interacting.  People are far happier to talk online than in real life to long lost friends, this is a fact as I often bump into old school friends (I left school in 1991) that are also FB friends, they are generally embarrassed to talk and normally offer a simple “hi” and wander off into the bustling high street..within an hour I’d get a “great seeing you today” message on FB!

Why is Twitter Useful?

  1. Right now, none of my non-early adopter friends, ex-colleagues or family are on it, however, it is great for meeting new people relevant to both work and play, I have a real mix of people that I find addictive to watch and talk with on and offline.
  2. Keeping up to date with what people are doing instantly.
  3. Sharing links to interesting information.
  4. Finding out who is in whatever location you happen upon ie “Who fancies a coffee in Oxford Street, right now?”
  5. Talking to people instantly.
  6. No limits on the number of people that can follow you and you can follow as many as you want (unlike FB).
  7. Direct Messages (email?).
  8. Getting out emergency notices, fast, such as this on Techcrunch today.

There are similarities to Facebook and it seems FB are actually copying “What are you doing now?”.  I think the second my friends born in the 70’s and technophobe work colleagues and family are introduced to and understand twitter, I would actually stop going to Facebook, FB offers me nothing more than Twitter and I prefer the fact that Twitter has flowing conversation.  The one thing Twitter needs is personalised homepages for each user and perhaps groups for friends, family and work (as we are discussing right now), and maybe allowing photos (the one thing Facebook has over Twitter).  Partnering with Flickr could fix that instantly.

There have been rumours of Twitter talking to Facebook regarding a potential acquisition (although it has been denied).   Of my followers not using an automated service to update their status’ the average friend updates three times per week..Not really live or helpful is it.

Maybe I am wrong and the fact Facebook has 150m users and twitter only 6m users in comparison means something..

I am however,convinced that Twitter, once understood and not just with geeks and people told they *should* use it, will take over Facebook.  Maybe in two years, and the revenue will be SMS based along with businesses paying to use it internally.  I know of many offices that have put bans in place stopping staff “wasting time on Facebook” – Twitter would be seen as a useful tool by bosses.

Your thoughts dear reader?!

UPDATE: It seems I am not alone with this line of thought other people are seeing the benefits including the UK public en masse

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13 thoughts on “Why Twitter can kill Facebook”

  1. Until Twitter allows you check out old friends photos of their latest baby, house, car, holiday, night out or social occasion I’ll stick to using both.

    Though I would be interested in mixing the two together – adding my Twitter comments as my Facebook status would be good.

  2. Agree totally. I might check FB once or twice a week. I’m on Twitter continuously (yes, perhaps addicted.) But even if I pull back from Twitter use, it is much better for business, building real relationships, building traffic, and more.

    TweetDeck is critical to good Twitter usage though. I can’t help but imagine there will be a breakthrough app that combines all the key needs that the many other little apps Twitter is spawning – but wish it would come soon. Or TweetDeck would add some of them.


  3. I tend to agree also.

    I joined twitter and facebook approximately at the same time.

    I did find twitter harder to understand at first compared to facebook. I didn’t understand the comments such as ‘I’m having a cup of coffee’ or ‘about to take a shower’.

    But, once you do understand twitter, it seems more instant, addictive and powerful. Can use twitpic for photo’s

  4. Your points are well taken however I do believe Facebook will stand strong.

    Unless you go to another program, Twitter is hard to follow. Additionally, I think it is annoying to see everyone’s @replies that don’t make sense to the rest of us.

  5. Interesting thought, but I don’t think the two are substitutes – better as complementary services. You can link the two – twitter to FB, if you want. I still want the added features of FB for keeping in touch with friends.

    In contrast, Twitter is more like being in a crowded bar where you get to choose who is in the crowd. You can’t catch the whole conversation, but you pick up some interesting tidbits and sometimes meet new people.

  6. I think I’m unusual in how much I still love Facebook, but made to give one up I’d choose Twitter in a flash.

    Fortunately we don’t have to! And I think they complement one another as James says.

    Twitter is cluttered to the untrained eye, you have to persevere, whereas Facebook is instantly rewarding and visual.

    Most of us have felt some level of addiction to either/both services I think!

    I like the idea of Twitter as an office tool/intranet – that’s a really interesting thought.

  7. I agree with your article. I was a big time FB user (being in college and all that) a while ago. Due to circumstances I had to quit FB and as something to fill the void that was FB I opened up twitter and flickr accounts.

    I must say I’m in love with twitter, its a simple efficient way for information exchange, unlike FB where you have to go through jungles of distracting information to get to the important stuff.

    I wish more of my friends use twitter as well. I had written to ALL of them explaining why twitter was on the cutting edge of this information edge (or about to be?) but I guess they didn’t see it.

    I am utterly confident however, that IF SMS messages were free of cost, we would see a tsunami of new twitizens migrate to the twittiverse! Don’t you agree that twitter is best utilized when used from a cell phone? It gives a new meaning to mobile news. 🙂


  8. I tend to agree on the main points in your post. I think Twitter has a great opportunity to lead the path ahead regarding Social Media.

    It also think Twitter already redefine the rules in terms of PR, Marketing and Branding. If you learn “the language” of Twitter you will get honest opinions about your brand by simply looking at the followers on your Twitter stream.

    For me Facebook is a great place to get an overview of your closest friends and your friends from the past that you actually meet regularly or have met physically in the past.

    Twitter is a great channel for dialogue and learning and if you wish to meet and relate to new people. Some of them even may become real friends in the near future.

    // @inforganic | @janfriman

  9. Hmmm. I am going to go against the grain and disagree. I think Twitter is way too messy at the moment. I have 100+ followers and following about 150 and at busy times when you don’t have the time to keep an eye on Twitter someone could say something really great but you leave it just a couple of hours and it is lost with in a sea of sometimes useless and sometimes brilliant posts. There are also well known bloggers such as Leo Laporte even saying they are fed up with Twitter, Merlin Mann has quit Twitter for a bit because it is unproductive and takes up his time. Like most things on the web, things get old real quickly.

    What I do find it good for is finding answers to problems, for example I asked what a good app for Twitter on the iPhone was and within minutes I had replies. I am also on a forum and it has made members in the forum closer. It is a great way of networking and building up contacts for business purposes for people you don’t know. However, going back to what I said above. Is it a good way for building business or is it more of a hinderance? Most the people with big following built their businesses before Twitter such as Kevin Rose. Then all the Digg fans jumped on the bandwagon.

    For people I am close to and know in real life, I just don’t think you can beat Facebook. Some of the status updates are funny but mostly I ignore them. What I mainly do is write on peoples walls, look at friends photos and videos and put up my own stuff. I think Facebook is successful because of these things and it helps bring “existing” friends together and brings parts of the individual services such as Twitter and Flickr together. Most of us here are probably pretty techy and embrace new services regularly, but most people are probably going to ask the question “what is the point when Facebook statuses essentially do the same thing”? I agree that the apps are stupid, but some people still use them. I am going to go against the grain again and say that I like the new Facebook! *shock* It makes a whole lot more sense and I don’t miss the days of having to scroll all the way down a profile full off pointless apps just to write something on the wall.

    I might have to eat my words yet, but I don’t think Twitter will kill Facebook and never make the mainstream. Whether Facebook kills itself or another service comes along is another question.

  10. I tried the twitter app http://tinyurl.com/yvc9sl in FB and… put it this way, I had to remove it because it just did not go together. Thanks for your post. You really have thoroughly explained the fundamental reason what the two SHOULD NOT mix!


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