social media

Facebook vs Twitter – Battle of the social networks

History has been tainted with famous battles; The house of York vs. the house of Lancaster, McCartney vs. Mills, TOWIE vs. Made in Chelsea.

History has been tainted with famous battles; The house of York vs. the house of Lancaster, McCartney vs. Mills, TOWIE vs. Made in Chelsea. But recently, a more modern type of battle has come to the forefront of our consciousness. I’m not talking about the Saturday night viewing figure competition. I refer to the battle of the social network giants; Facebook vs. Twitter.

Less and less you hear people asking the question that once seemed immortal; ‘Are you on Facebook?’ Perhaps this is because the affirmative response is taken as a given these days, but more often people seem to be asking ‘Are you on Twitter?’ instead.

Facebook timeline

Specifically since Timeline appeared on the Facebook horizon, more people have been shuffling over to the feathered side. Even those who steadfastly refused to buy into Twitter at first, claiming ‘I don’t want to know what celebrities are eating for breakfast’, are joining up, having realised that it is so much more than a blow by blow account of someone’s day. 

Naturally, Facebook has the advantage of longevity, having been around since 2004 (we all know the story- a Harvard geek, some twins…), and taking over from the then social networking giant Bebo (yeah remember Bebo? If not, add a garish background and a few 13 year-old chavs to Facebook timeline and you’re pretty much there).  With almost 850 million users to Twitter’s 300 million, Zuckerberg and co must be doing something right.

Secondly, Facebook undeniably has more features, photo sharing probably being the main one, although there are extensions to Twitter such as TwitPic which can be used to share photos (or just copy and paste a link to your Flickr account).  

Facebook, however, is somewhat limiting socially – potentially problematic for a ‘social network’. You remain stuck inside your circle of friends, to a point where it can become claustrophobic, in the most virtual sense of the word (you are of course free at any point to log out, walk away from your computer and interact with real life people, rather than their 2D, airbrushed counterparts). 

Twitter is simpler

Twitter, on the other hand, allows you to branch out of your social circle and follow whoever you wish- celebrities, professionals in your industry, groups and causes you’re interested in. It is through this that my love for Twitter grew. Follow the right people and you will come across links to internships, work experience and job opportunities that are right up your street.

I admit that when I first signed up to Twitter around 15 months ago, I found it confusing. With unfamiliar terms such as ‘Retweet’ and dodgy sounding options such as ‘Following’ people, I didn’t know what I was doing. But a quick skim read through an online guide later I was away, and haven’t looked back since. You can create a profile pretty much how you want it (within a 160 character limit), can choose to link to your blog or other internet profiles, or can choose to reveal nothing about yourself if you prefer.

Twitter is far simpler than Facebook, and therein lies its beauty. There are no pictures, no pesky Farmville invites to contend with, no being cruelly informed when your ex is in a new relationship, just one long chain of statuses. Tweets are limited to a sometimes painful but often rewarding 140 characters, eliminating the sorts of people who share the ins and outs of their long and complicated (so they like to believe) lives on Facebook. Again, there are ways to get around this, such as Twitlonger, but if you are one of those oversharing people, you should probably do yourself and me a favour, and stay on Facebook. 

If you are able to stick to 140 characters, Twitter is a great way to rant off about anything and everything-it’s easy enough to set up a ‘ghost’ account-you don’t have to follow anyone and can block anyone from following you, but it’s a great way to rant about the niggles in your life, from lazy colleagues to your other half’s pesky habits. Nobody will ever see it, eliminating the usual risk of being fired (or dumped), but just by getting it out there in the big wide cyber world, you’ll feel heaps better.

 Like it or lump it, Twitter is here to stay, more so as Facebook users are coerced into Timeline and look for alternatives.

Please Twitter, don’t go all Facebook on us. You’re beautiful as you are.