Twitter and Facebook — Relationship Status: Complicated

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!! Since it’s that time of the year when we show our love and appreciation for our special someone, I thought it only fitting to look at the relationship between our favorite social media giants. With all the changes and updates that these two social media sites have made recently, and the resulting backlash and uproar, I think it’s easily summed up in social media terms:

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK: RELATIONSHIP STATUS – IT’S COMPLICATED.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Before we talk about the current state of affairs, let’s take a walk down memory lane. Flash back about five to seven years and you’ll recall that Twitter was the place to connect with your college friends, mentors in your field, and celebrities over quick (but deep) 140-character conversations. When you weren’t tweeting up a storm, you were obsessively checking your Facebook feed to see what your friends and family were doing last weekend and deleting all those unwanted game requests.

In my mind, Facebook was for long-form content, meaning you could write a status update or note using full sentences, post an album or pictures, or share a video. On the other hand, Twitter was the place to go for breaking news and sending quick messages to your network or specific people.

Now, it’s 2016 and both Twitter and Facebook are publically-traded companies with responsibilities to their respective shareholders. Translation: they need to provide products, like ad units, that would provide enough value to brands and companies to justify their investment.

TWITTER: WHAT’S NEW?

The better question is, “What isn’t new?” It seems like Twitter is constantly updating, tweaking, and improving (based on your personal opinion) their product. The most recent change is the algorithm Twitter is using to show you the “best” tweets and placing these at the top of your timeline.

Here’s more information via Twitter:

We use a person’s past Twitter activity to predict which Tweets they might like to see most. We look at accounts they interact with, Tweets they usually engage with, interests, and what’s going on in their network.

Hmm, doesn’t that sound awfully similar to Facebook’s news feed?

The stories that show in your News Feed are influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. This helps you to see more stories that interest you from friends you interact with the most.

Another change that Twitter made was in eliminating the option to favorite (⭐) a tweet and replacing it with the heart (❤️). They call this…wait for it…liking a tweet. Remind me, where else can we “like” people’s content?

FACEBOOK: WHAT’S UP?

Facebook just celebrated its 12th birthday and continues to grow and evolve through the awkward teenage years. If your business is active on social media, I’m sure you know about the ever-changing algorithm for how Facebook chooses content to appear in news feeds. This formula is constantly being tweaked in order to (hopefully) serve users the most relevant content for them. Because we obviously don’t know the secret formula (darn you, Facebook!), we have two options to get our audience’s attention: share the highest quality content that provides value to our target audience, and/or investing in Facebook ads. Many companies use a strategy that encompasses both tactics, here on Facebook as well as on Twitter. As Twitter has evolved, they too have provided ad products and a complex algorithm for the timeline.

When you’re on Facebook, have you noticed the trending topics in the right-hand sidebar (or in the mobile app’s search bar)? How cool is that – Facebook lets you know about breaking news and what people are posting about right now! Oh, wait, that sounds familiar…

And let’s not forget about hashtags on Facebook, which are so prominent on Twitter. On second thought, let’s forget about hashtags on Facebook. I kid, I kid – I’m not completely averse to them but please, for the love of Chessus, use them wisely!

KAVITA’S TWO CENTS: IT’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE

Back in the day, Twitter was Twitter and Facebook was Facebook. They were two distinct and separate entities that served different purposes in the social media space. But, as new players enter the industry and the top dogs struggle to remain in their alpha leadership roles, we’re seeing Twitter become more Facebook-like and Facebook has Twitter birds flying around their head.

So, where’s the line between evolving and completely losing your sense of identity? Bringing it back to Valentine’s Day, when two people are in a healthy relationship, it’s important to not lose yourself and what makes you unique and one-of-a-kind. Right now, it feels like Twitter and Facebook are constantly one-upping each other like they’re in the midst of a Cold War-era arms race. Twitter acquired Vine and Facebook implemented 15-second looped videos on Instagram. Twitter bought Periscope and Facebook launched their Live Video capability.

I hope Twitter and Facebook move forward without moving away from what makes them great and popular. I fear that on their current paths, people will eventually abandon these stalwarts and move on to the greener pastures known as Snapchat and whatever comes next (Peach?) Only time will tell how this relationship will play out but for right now, it remains complicated.

What do you think about the recent changes on Twitter and Facebook? Where do you see them going in the future?

This post first appeared on my blog, Kavita’s Two Cents.

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