Facebook Love, Twitter HateApr 15, 2009 By Thomas Lewis
A couple weeks ago I took a vacation that was desperately needed. It was like any vacation that I have taken before. But I did do something different this time around; I cut myself off from the grid for the most part.
It was hard at first because I had just worked on a conference where Twitter use is rampant and I enjoy engaging with folks on Facebook and Twitter (I also use other social networks like Plurk, but not as much as Facebook and Twitter). Although after two days, I didn’t find myself on my phone texting “I just ate at Monkey Joe’s, you gotta get the Triple-Monkey Burger, FTW! #monkey #hamburger”. I think my wife was actually happier that I wasn’t sharing every aspect of our vacation in real-time.
What was interesting was when I got back and logged into Facebook and Twitter. I really picked up on a vibe that I had not really noticed before. Facebook activity was primarily positive while Twitter tended to be more negative. Facebook had much more positive items like “I love…” and “I like x too…” vs. Twitter’s “They left the pickles off the sandwich, EPIC FAIL!” Many of the folks I follow on Facebook are on Twitter as well. In some cases, I saw where the same person (I won’t call out their names) sort of had different personalities depending on which they were using. I became curious as to why this was the case and came up with some theories.
CAVEAT: My so-called research is not based on a controlled study using the scientific method. It is just based on about an hour of research, comparisons and talking with friends in the real world. That is why this post is under Opinions, not Research.
Theory One: Facebook activities tend towards the positive. Much of the news feed is status updates, but it includes photos and pages. Photos tend to be family-related and comments are generally positive. Folks can “Become A Fan” instead of a “Become A Hater”. Most of the pages out there are for supporting favorite TV shows, causes, etc.
Theory Two: Twitter is in the early adopter phase and attracts techies. This is changing as more people are signing up for Twitter accounts and getting more mentions and stories in traditional media. But with the majority being early adopters from the tech world and I have more of the techie crowd in my networks,I find the techie audience to be more critical (in good and bad ways). Since they tend to have the latest gadgets,it has become much easier to take a frustration and put it into 140 characters within seconds.
Theory Three: Twitter is more impersonal. Facebook users I have spoken to have relatives and family members as Friends which probably keeps the snark in-check. Also, who would ever comment on someone’s child trying to ride their bike for the first time with an “EPIC FAIL!”? Twitter activity tends to focus on the impersonal (events, politics, companies, etc.) and it is much easier to throw stones at entities vs. actual people.
So why do you think Facebook seems to be a kinder place than Twitter? What is your theory? Write a comment and tell us what you think. Subscribe to our Twitter feed if you want to stay in touch with us.