Why Twitter will Outlast Facebook.

Social Networks come and go faster then you can spell Orkut. They get hyped, gain popularity and then we all jump to the “next thing”. It’s the web 2.0 equivalent of the the cool kid mentality, and that mentality is fickle.  Two years ago Myspace was all the rage but it has become a geo-citiesque wasteland populated with a remnant of teens and band pages. It quickly became a parody of itself and the public was poised to jump.

These days all the buzz has been focused on Facebook and most recently Twitter. Which causes me to wonder, Which service will I be using in 3 years?

I think the answer is Twitter. Here’s why…

The Antisocial Social Network

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Facebook is very much a walled garden that is trying to capture the rest of the web within its pages. It is a self contained ecosystem that doesn’t connect into other areas of its users’ online lives.  It’s a narrow one way street.

Back in the spring of 2007 Facebook announced the creation of apps and last month expanded their API, but to what end? 90% of Facebook apps are some idiotic quiz, insipid top 5 lists, or the contemptible “send flair/gift/bumper stickers” to friends. Users want real integration into Facebook but it isn’t happening.

Where are the real apps?

Let’s take a few examples. Blog/RSS integration to Facebook is rudimentary. There is little integration for major sites like Flickr and LinkedIn and even the widely used Twitter app is useless. Why can’t I have a Twitter Facebook App that advertises my tweets and profile WITHOUT spamming my Facebook friends who don’t want all my Twitter updates? (The Selective Twitter App now accomplishes this task but few are aware of it.) You can’t even find your Facebook friends on Twitter with any search or sync tool. That’s ridiculous.

The list of failures goes on and on. Brightkite, Friendfeed, Diigo, Tumblr ….etc. The app is either non existent or completely broken.

The Plays Well With Others Network

In contrast Twitter is the exact opposite of a walled garden. It’s much like an everyone into the pool network. One of the best features of Twitter is how well it connects almost every online aspect of your life. Twitter has become the de facto clearing house of your online life.

Twitter enables you to publish your blog posts, Brightkite updates, Diigo/Delicious bookmarks, Tumblr posts, Friendfeed Conversations, and with RSS it can incorporate almost any other web service you can imagine.

It’s worth noting that most of these features are not a function of Twitter itself but the instead are included in the 3rd party app or via some Twitter web tool (Twitpic, Twitterfeed, etc). However, this is a direct result of Twitters platform, popularity, and API. Twitter encouraged the development and the world exploded with Tie-Ins to twitter. So much so that you can even set your plant to twitter when it needs water or you can have your cat door tweet when the cat goes out. (It’s late, I’m lazy, use Google to find them).

The Final Word

I won’t declare Facebook dead in the water because the expanded API may be an indication that they are trying to adapt but I think it will require an intentional effort on Facebook’s part, not to mention some much needed profile/update layout redesign. Even the recent acquisition of Friendfeed could well expand their input mechanism but I have my doubts about their goal of using that content outside of Facebook.

And who is to say that Twitter won’t try to build some walls some day in the future. I doubt it but you never know, see their latest replies fiasco.

In the end Social Media networks must understand that their power is directly tied to the ability to plug other services into that network. Facebook has yet to realize this and Twitter has capitalized on it.

Facebook is positioning itself to be the replacement web instead of contributing to the existing web. That’s why I will still be on Twitter in 2012. What do you think? Find me on Twitter as @tsudo.

12 responses to “Why Twitter will Outlast Facebook.”

  1. Peter says:

    Facebook can be improved, yes, but remember, these are two different tools for two different purposes. Twitter is for very public communication, Facebook is purposefully more intimate. The reason people fled from myspace is because there was no privacy. Facebook provides an intimate collection of friends that spammers and strangers are not allowed into. That is a desireable feature for this product. The public nature of Twitter, likewise, is a desireable feature for that product. I agree that improvements can be made, but if Facebook loses its ability to keep strangers and spammers away, it loses the very thing that makes it what it is.

  2. tsudohnimh says:

    First, I completely agree that Twitter and Facebook are two entirely
    different species but both aim to keep others abreast of our activities. The
    target focus group may shift from the world at large to family and friends
    but it all hinges on the ability to process and publish updates. It is this
    similarity that leads to my hypothesis that the more methods of updating you
    allow and the more 3rd party sites plug into your service the more pervasive
    your service will be.

    I also don't necessarily agree with your assumption on Myspace. It was still
    a controlled community b/c the user had to approve every single person into
    their space. I think Myspace's demise is more related to the geocities
    effect where you end up with awful user pages that no one wants to see.

    I'm not so much comparing Twitter to Facebook but rather examining how they
    are different in their approach to third parties and how I think that will
    affect their logevity.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment. Thank you

  3. Tsudo says:

    First, I completely agree that Twitter and Facebook are two entirely
    different species but both aim to keep others abreast of our activities. The
    target focus group may shift from the world at large to family and friends
    but it all hinges on the ability to process and publish updates. It is this
    similarity that leads to my hypothesis that the more methods of updating you
    allow and the more 3rd party sites plug into your service the more pervasive
    your service will be.

    I also don't necessarily agree with your assumption on Myspace. It was still
    a controlled community b/c the user had to approve every single person into
    their space. I think Myspace's demise is more related to the geocities
    effect where you end up with awful user pages that no one wants to see.

    I'm not so much comparing Twitter to Facebook but rather examining how they
    are different in their approach to third parties and how I think that will
    affect their logevity.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment. Thank you

  4. […] Tsudohnimh wrote an interesting post today onWhy Twitter will Outlast <b>Facebook</b>. | KnowtheNetwork.comHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  5. dj adelaide says:

    definitely, simplicity and integration are what i like about twitter and why i keep using it, facebook i only use to connect to friends but friends are not necessarily the most interesting / forward thinking / tech savvy people, the most interesting people at the moment are the ones who are actively using twitter imho

  6. dj adelaide says:

    definitely, simplicity and integration are what i like about twitter and why i keep using it, facebook i only use to connect to friends but friends are not necessarily the most interesting / forward thinking / tech savvy people, the most interesting people at the moment are the ones who are actively using twitter imho

  7. Mark Essel says:

    Great post Keith, totally agree with many of your points with one addition.

    The aces up Facebook's sleeve are:
    1) Wide spread appeal, almost everyone has a facebook account now and it's catching on globally
    2) They picked up the brilliant Friendfeed team which was like twitter on steroids (twitter's api is a little simpler than ff api v2)

    Heck even I got inspired to start developing a twitter app, and my cofounder Tyler's done the lion share of that development (we're branching to Facebook statuses as well). Check Victus Media if you're curious of what we're hacking about.

  8. Keith says:

    I agree the appeal of Facebook is great than Twitter but I think FB will be a victim of its own vision.

    Facebook wants to be everything Google, Twitter, Friends & Family, Business platform. Facebook excels and connecting friends and family but it can't be all thing to all people. Too ambitious and doomed.

    I think in the end Twitter in some from will outlast FBs popularity.

  9. Luke Irvin says:

    I think if Facebook tweaks up what they have now, they will dominate. Honestly, I think they will dominate. Facebook is much more open than Twitter. You have Fan Pages, that are now customizable and have even more power when you reach 10,000 fans. Also, Facebook Connect was a brilliant move to make. Twitter is very powerful and has a better search engine, but is only limited to 140 characters.

    Every social media user will find the platform that fits them better, but it's all going to come down to how well you listen, and where you are listening.

  10. Keith says:

    I think Facebook is poised to be more dominant but I don't think they are
    more open. I think they are pursuing export options like FB connect but its
    a one way street. I also agree that Facebook Pages holds amazing potential
    of business but I just don't think that most FB users will be thrilled when
    their stream is dominated by business verses friends and family.

    Your last comment is very accurate. Thanks for taking the time to read and
    for leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

  11. While I agree that Twitter has tons of integrations, I greatly preferred FriendFeed's style and simplicity of sharing and aggregating from all of your other online services. It's too bad that they have pretty much just withered.

  12. While I agree that Twitter has tons of integrations, I greatly preferred FriendFeed's style and simplicity of sharing and aggregating from all of your other online services. It's too bad that they have pretty much just withered.

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