★ Your Friends are the Limit: Why Facebook can’t stop Twitter

Disclaimer: the post below is written on purpose from a pure geek’s perspective, with some exaggeration. I’m trying to figure out why Facebook is (and should remain) different from Twitter. Please don’t take it personally, and feel free to protest in the comments :-)

Shocker: most of my Facebook friends aren’t the most interesting people in the world for me. They are people I like to keep in touch with, and for most, people I trust more than the rest. But often we just don’t share enough interests for them to be the most “interesting” to me. Of course, I’m interested in what is happening in their lives, but that is more out of curiosity than information need.

On Twitter, on the other hand, I’m building a graph of people who I find interesting and relevant, and (mostly) not of friends and acquaintances.

Some recent examples? [1]

To me, what they share is worth a LOT more in terms of learnings than what my friends share on Facebook.

On Twitter, I read about topics I’m passionate about 90% of the time. On Facebook, I might see one or two interesting links per day: that’s 10% of the attention I spend there, at most. 10% waste on Twitter, 90% waste on Facebook. This is why Twitter is on the way to becoming the future of news, while Facebook has yet to launch something convincing on that side, even if it sends a lot of traffic to news outlets thanks to link sharing.

So as long as Facebook remains friends-centric, it will be a different usage than Twitter. [2] And that is completely fine! A service that helps me have “ambient awareness” of what my friends are doing is exactly what I expect from the Facebook brand.

Now if only Facebook would admit it and stop trying to sell our data to partner sites to make more money, trying to beat Twitter at its own game, and trying to beat Google at their own businessFacebook needs to invent their own business model, one that works within its boundaries as a closed social network and lets users be comfortable sharing anything on Facebook and knowing that their personal data is under control. [3]

What do you think? Should Facebook go back to its roots of a place to share our lives with friends only, or continue to morph into a different animal? And do you agree that many of the most interesting discussions happen with people who share your interests, rather than with people you’ve met in the past?

  1. Those are only a few examples! If you feel you should be included, follow me, and I might do this more often ;) []
  2. I don’t ask my Facebook friends to join me on Twitter, because I would probably not follow them back. They can come join the discussion on Buzz if they want. []
  3. Becoming a micro-payment system would have been an interesting possibility, but I guess there was not enough money to be made there? And there are probably many other business models I can’t think of. []

About Jean Friesewinkel

Jean is a Belgian engineer and Node.js developer. After 4 years in strategy consulting, Jean is now developing WiseRadar, a personalized news service designed to help startups grow their business. On Strategyist, he writes about web strategies and startups that change the world. He also loves sailing, cooking & photography.

04. May 2010 by Jean Friesewinkel
Categories: Innovation, Social | Tags: , , , | 14 comments

6 Tweets 5 Other Comments

Comments (14)

  1. Only 10% noise on twitter? Wow, I must take a closer look at those people you’re following… That said, you’re right: FaceBook is for friends, twitter is for news. (It’s actually the present of news for me.)

    FaceBook is risking a lot sacrificing its privacy reputation (see e.g. http://twitter.com/sboucher/status/13385850730) just to ape a site that isn’t even a competitor and doesn’t really have a business model…

  2. Jean, thanks for the nod. Looking forward to seeing you around on Twitter as well.

  3. @Serge — What I mean with this “10% waste” are tweets that are not relevant to my interests. Of course there is more noise than that — duplication is the main source of it. Thankfully tools like Cadmus (http://thecadmus.com/) are tackling this pretty well for when I need to catchup with the stream.

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