Twitter vs. Facebook: Which Is Better for Your Business?

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Should you use both Facebook and Twitter for your business? In a word, yes.

Facebook and Twitter deliver information in very different ways, and although there is some audience/user crossover, they serve two very different marketing needs. Twitter may have a better reach among African American and Latino markets, as well as people between the ages of 18 and 29, while Facebook has a far better reach among seniors and women.

Twitter is better for viral trends (which, even on Twitter, tend to be more flukes and public interest at any given moment than the result of carefully planned marketing strategies), but Facebook is better for deeper communication and relationship branding than Twitter is.

The Users of Social Networks

Facebook users tend to be more interested in keeping close tabs on family, friends, and their favorite brands by "liking" everything from celebrities to books to causes than is true for Twitter users.

Seniors are a fast-growing segment among social network users. In 2011, 33% of Internet users 65 and older were on social networks and Facebook tops the list; 4% of people over 65 in the US are now using Twitter. In 2009 only 13% of seniors were using social networks. In two years the number of seniors using social networks more than doubled.

Twitter is most popular among African Americans and Latinos. Fully 25% of online African Americans use Twitter at least occasionally, with 11% doing so on a typical day.

Additionally, Twitter use by internet users ages 25-34 has doubled since late 2010 (from 9% to 19%), and usage by those ages 35-44 has also grown significantly (from 8% to 14%).

You Can Do So Much More With Facebook, So Why Is Twitter So Popular?

Unless you are living in the dark ages, you probably have heard about Twitter even if you do not use it. Twitter celebrated its 6th birthday in 2012 and continues to show measurable growth each year. When Oprah Winfrey sent out her first Tweet in 2009, she attracted more than 100,000 followers in her first hour. That's how fast and far well-timed news and tweets can reach in the Twitter community. And today, some three years later, tweets can still go viral in minutes.

According to, as of early 2012:

  • 15% of all adults in the US use Twitter.
  • 14% of adult men use Twitter.
  • 15% of adult women use Twitter.
  • 26% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 use Twitter.
  • 8% of those who do use Twitter use it every day.

The main reason Twitter is so popular is simple: people are social and Twitter is a no-frills, straightforward social networking platform. Although younger people use Twitter more frequently, 4% of senior citizens (or, approximately 1,600,000 people in the 65+ age bracket) are using Twitter.

You do not need a website or to have any special skills to master Twitter, and it does not contain the dreaded Facebook timeline.

Why Use Twitter?

Twitter does not bombard you with app instructions (but there are many widgets and third-party services you can use to step up your game), nor does Twitter come with the same social pressure to custom design your look. A Facebook page without a profile and a cover picture looks lazy and unappealing, Twitter right out of the box looks like well, thousands of other Twitter sites: clean, simple, and just fine. Twitter actually allows users easier tools for a greater visual customization than Facebook does.

Facebook, the Fun Police

Another reason for Twitter's growing popularity is that it is easy to set up multiple Twitter accounts to serve different interests; if you set up more than one personal Facebook page, your account may be suspended or deleted. In fact, a common complaint among Facebook users is waking to find their account was deleted for some reason or another. One Facebook user had a personal account deleted (which also took down their business page) without any warning whatsoever. The reason given by Facebook was that they suspected the account owner had lied about where they went to high school. Okay, the truth is, they did make up a high school name to be funny, but is that a reason to have an account deleted?

Twitter for Business, and Those With a Short Attention Span

Twitter addresses a common problem faced by all business owners: the easily distracted and short attention span of consumers. On the web, if you do not get your message across in five seconds or less, chances are you lost your prospect.

Twitter users send out short messages called "Tweets." These micro messages are limited to 140 characters. While this may seem like barely enough space to convey a message, it forces users to really think about what they want to convey.

Think of Twitter As An Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value. The term stems from the marketing approach when meeting a prospect in an elevator and trying to sell them on something before they reach their destination floor and exit.

One famous elevator pitch can be seen in the movie "Working Girl," starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. Griffith is given the chance to convince a corporate executive during a brief elevator ride that she and not her boss was the originator of a business idea. Her pitch worked.

Think of Twitter as an elevator pitch, only with one floor to sell someone on an idea. (Facebook is also an elevator pitch platform only you have more "floors" to work with.)

Think of Facebook As a Place of Deeper Engagement

Facebook also offers a great platform to reach consumers, but it is harder to get "likes" for your business page than it is to get followers on Twitter, and you will have to work to encourage and engage your audience.

But Facebook allows you to share a lot more information at a glance than Twitter does. You can embed images, videos, and even create interactive pages. Facebook is also a great place to offer colorful coupons, article excerpts, and incentives such as "like" our page and get 10% off or we will "like" you back.

The bottom line is that, when compared, they really cannot be compared. The best way to take advantage of social networking is to use both Facebook and Twitter and treat each as a separate entity with the potential to reach markets in very different ways.