Did Facebook just usurp Twitter in providing a micro-blogging platform for the masses?

I’ve been using Pages on Facebook for quite a while (the NY Times even featured me in an article around a biz page I created on FB almost a year ago), but it’s only with the most recent update by Facebook that I think everything clicked…

With the new design of their homepage, just about all the technical functionality of Twitter is built into Facebook, except FB has made it even more useful from a marketing perspective.     I’m of the opinion that Facebook has hit the sweet spot in terms of micro-blogging for the masses. Here’s why:

  • While Twitter’s command-line style communication (i.e. commands like “@” and “d” make sense only after you’ve been initiated), Facebook offers a cleaner interface that allows for better photo, video, and link integration
  • While Twitter rocks because it feels like all the “cool” kids are on the service, Facebook hit the masses a long time ago and has more active folks that twitter ever will.
  • While Facebook *should* have been all over integration with live events on other websites, it was FB who first nailed this when they linked your status updates with the live video feed of the inauguration (the traffic results were mindblowing)
  • While people have tried their darnedest to improve twitter by adding groups and highlighting “best of” content, it’s really Facebook who has nailed this with their latest updates.  If you run a page (i.e. you have “fans” instead of “friends”) your updates end up in your friend’s newsfeeds. If you’re interesting, then your stuff will be featured in the “highlight” section of your fans (and potentially their friends!). Obviously, going viral requires you to be interesting to your audience, but that’s as it should be!

fan-me-on-facebookI’m obviously smitten with Facebook’s latest updates… Not so much because I like the idea of giving so much marketing power over to the Facebook gods (I don’t), but because they’ve made it way too tempting and some early movers will most definitely do well in this space.

However, to be fair, there are some issues with using Facebook in place of twitter. Here are some of the things I’ve run into:

  • The main issue I have is one of terminology.  If you want to follow my updates on FB, you’ve got to become a “fan”. On twitter, the barrier is lower in that you only need to “follow” me and not put such a positive judgement on our relationship.  The result is that getting people to follow your updates is a bit tougher on Facebook, but the quality of people following you should be much higher!
  • FB users can’t treat your Page like a profile in some key areas like photo tagging and putting you into lists
  • Managing a profile for a client can be awkward.  For example, I’m an “admin” on a page for a somewhat popular author.   As an “admin”, I’m only allowed to leave comments in his voice, although sometimes I’d really like to take part in the discussions under my own voice. Considering creating two profiles is against Facebook’s TOS, this is a bummer.   I need to be an admin for this profile in order to make sure things stay clean (i.e. delete spam, install apps, etc.), and would really love a way to toggle between my personal profile and the admin profile.

As you can see, my complaints are pretty darn minor, and definitely not going to stop me from playing more with Facebook.  If you want to follow along, become a fan!

Plus, I really want to say thanks to all the folks who have become fans so far! As an experiment, I’m going to use the 4realz blogroll to give a little something back to folks who become fans — a homepage link!   It may take me a few days to link out to all the folks who have become fans, but I’ll continue to work at hitting this moving target!

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