Twitter vs Facebook: Differing audiences and convergence

Over the past two or three months, it seems that everyone I know from high school and college have discovered Facebook. I’m getting multiple friend requests per day. Actually, when I think about Facebook, it seems to work reverse-chronologically in terms of adoption. I first joined Facebook when they opened up to everyone and my initial group of friends on the service were people I knew personally who worked online as I do and who were also early adopters, as I am. Then, a larger group of people familiar with my work from Mahalo and TUAW and my blogging friended me, alongside several of my peers. The next group to start friending me were my friends from Graduate School. Then, slightly out of chronological order, my high school friends started finding me, shortly followed upon by my college friends, and there’s been a steady mix of both high school and college connections over the past several months. Is this a normal experience for most Facebook users who come from the online industries or did everyone in Mississippi just discover Facebook simultaneously and it’s a regional trend?

In any case, this influx of “lay people” who aren’t 100% plugged into social media has created some interesting collisions and discussions, including this humorous discussion between myself and two of my good friends from college, who happen to be sisters:

I feed all my Twitter messages into my Facebook status via Facebook’s Twitter app and this is clearly confusing some of the people who have friended me on Facebook, because they don’t use Twitter and it strikes them as a foreign language of sorts. They’re not familiar with the terminology and learning to read sentences mangled to fit into 140 characters or less. I defined Twitter to them thusly:

Twitter is a 140 character limited messaging service that works over the web / via SMS. A tweet is a single message on twitter. Here’s my twitter account for example:¬†¬†Anyone who wants to tell me something on twitter can say: @cksthree hey man what’s up? and i’ll see that message to me. if they want to make it a privatemessage they can type “d cksthree what the crack is up with Ashley and Robin, yo?” and I’ll receive that message privately. It’s like instant messaging but not as time sensitive and as if you’re talking to the person you’re chatting with in a large group of people. It’s great for if you have a question and you have a lot of followers. Generally if I ask questions, I get several intelligent answers by asking them to the close to 1000 people following me.

I think this definition is okay. There’s nothing phenomenal about it. However, I’m finding the odd collisions that are occurring between my Twitter audience and my Facebook audience interesting. I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t use Facebook, or I wouldn’t have started using Facebook, as much as I do if it weren’t for the Twitter integration. I’m primarily a Twitter user, and I have good conversations on both platforms now thanks to my Twitter feed going steadily (more or less) into my Facebook. The everyday chatter of what I’m doing and the minutia of my daily life seems to perform best with my high school and college friends who know me as C.K., Art and English major, funny, smart guy that they used to hang out with. Twitter is also syndicated into the sidebar of my blog and that’s the way my parents tend to keep up with what I’m up to and my Dad is always mentioning “I saw on your blog that you were…” when it was actually what I’d said on Twitter that syndicated to my blog. And, more often than not, this type of minutia is exactly the type of thing that many of those who follow me on Twitter are disinterested in. Nevertheless, Twitter is the broadcast tool for that information and it does serve a purpose on a personal level to people who know me, or have known a past me, at a particular personal level.

Now the flip side of this is that I’m often talking about things that are very specific to gadgets and online technology. All this goes over great with my Twitter audience, but on Facebook all my high school and college friends respond with comments like the above “What are you talking about?” and are no doubt reminded of how odd and peculiar they found me at times in high school and college (and most likely, since most of them are still in the South and I now live in New York, there is probably a very small percentage of them who think something like “Yeah, C.K. never did really belong in the South. He doesn’t even have an accent!”; note: I’ve actually had similar comments said to my face in the past).

So it’s an odd disconnect where the communications going out on both platforms have somewhat of a divergence between what they want to hear and what they don’t want to hear from me, although both groups want to hear from me, supposedly, or they wouldn’t be following me.

What do you think? Have you found similar sorts of conversations and trends between Twitter and Facebook?

About C.K. Sample III

I am a father, a husband, a blogger, a parrot owner, a pug owner, and the Chief Product Officer for YouEarnedIt. This site has no comments. If you want to talk to me, send me an @cksample on Twitter. If you like this post, feel free to buy me something off of my wishlist.
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8 Responses to Twitter vs Facebook: Differing audiences and convergence

  1. shawn smith says:

    I run into the exact same issue – part of the reason I wish I had a single application to interact with all my social profiles from one place. I get comments on facebook to status updates I made through Twitter that don’t really follow the conversation I’m having on Twitter. Then I notice the FB comments a week later and I feel like I’m being a jerk for not responding to my friends FB comments. Most of my friends think Twitter is for crazies, but it might be :P

  2. srcasm says:

    I have to agree 100% with you and Shawn. I miss comments on Facebook sometimes and many times the people who friend me there have no idea what I’m talking about. One advantage is that I reach a much broader audience with what I have to say — But that might be a disadvantage as well (depending on who you are).

  3. lance cooper says:

    So… I think I fall in some weird hybrid world, seeing as I am your brother’s friend and knew you in high school and college but also have somehow followed you around in internet as well. You’ve lived in my rss world since 3650anda12inch (and you were my rss friend before facebook was around), but then it was strange that you disappeared from my rss friend world for a while when you were at Netscape and Mahalo. But now that you’re back in NY I am again enjoying the random CK comments on the world from rss and facebook. I’ve never joined twitter, mostly because I still don’t have a smart phone and never could bring myself to keep up with what I did during the day and then write it down at night, but I know what twitter is and can tell your facebook status is updated frequently from tweets. I’m from Mississippi, but I don’t live there anymore. I still live in the south, but Huntsville is one of the most un-southern cities in the south. And I don’t even have a blog, unless you count the .me account that is mostly for pictures of my kid. I also think that by posting this on your blog and not responding on twitter or facebook even makes this weirder. All of this makes me wonder if I am in some distant sub-corner of the internet stalking you and I just don’t realize it, and if “What the crack?” will become mainstream slang for I don’t understand what technical jargon your mouth just released.

    All of that to say I can’t comment on on tweets and faces (would that be right?), but I can tell you that facebook is moving across the south like wildfire. I think this is just the phenomenon of social networking. People who are already on facebook tell friends in person that facebook is cool and not a site for stalking people, and then they reluctantly join. Soon they make the same realization and pass it on to someone else. I would expect for every 50 friends on facebook there are 2 to 3 that you are actually friends with and interact with on a daily basis. That would explain two to three new people a day asking to be your friend. So in conclusion, you can grow your own social network by friends of your friends becoming your friend, but the actual social network can only grow by offline interaction. I think…

  4. c.k. says:

    Great comments by all. Very interesting to hear your take, Lance, simply because you have been online stalking me for years ;-)

    Shawn and srcsm, I have email me to notify me of comments on Facebook turned on and that seems to keep me in the loop of people replying to my tweets over there.

  5. Jason Ball says:

    Man, your posts are too long. Those of us with ADD can’t take much more. Pls keep 2 ur twitter. kthxbai.

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