Facebook has shown through words and actions that it has a serious case of Twitter envy. But the two services meet very different needs: unidirectional public communication on Twitter vs. bidirectional communication on Facebook. Twitter and Facebook reflect two different ways we use the web: to connect with people we know and to connect with people we don’t already know. Monetizing the social web we will require us to understand the different value of these activities.
There’s an unproven but lofty idea that the future of monetization on the web — the next big thing since Google — is real-time search. But while processing information quickly is key, the way Twitter and Facebook are used makes them suited for two different flavors of this stuff: conversational marketing and socially informed information, respectively. What Facebook and Twitter have in common an opportunity to figure out what’s important because people are talking about it. But because of the different purposes they serve, both will leverage their data in different ways.
The Twitter Broadcast System
Twitter is delightfully simple. You can derive value from it by simply following Shaq, and you can tie into a conversation by using three simple syntactical cues, ones that seem to be much less impenetrable than some geeks might have assumed: #, @ and RT call out related content, other user names, and source others’ tweets, respectively. (The early OH — used when posting an overheard comment — seems to have dropped off as the mainstream catches up).