Twitter followers are more valued than Facebook fans

By September 20, 2010 9 Comments

I have a long standing bet with an old friend from university that 50 million people will Tweet in December this year and over the weekend he pointed me to articles on ComputerWorld and sociamediatoday saying that as little as 17% of Twitter users actually send Tweets and that Twitter seems to be positioning itself as a media consumption platform.  That took me to a more recent post on socialmediatoday which argues credibly that Twitter followers are more likely to induce advocacy and future purchases than Facebook fans.

Socialmediatoday was picking up on an emarketer reported survey which found:

Daily Twitter users who followed a brand were more than twice as likely as daily Facebook users who “liked” a brand to say they were more likely to purchase from the brand after becoming a social media follower.

The precise survey data is in these two charts.

Likelihood of purchasing from a brand:


Likelihood or recommending a brand:


The explanation for the difference between Facebook and Twitter centres around the point made above that Twitter is more of a content distribution platform than a communications network – at least in comparison with Facebook.  Or, as some say, “Facebook is for people you know while Twitter is for people you don’t know”.

Getting into more detail – the way Facebook is set up is less well suited for content distribution than Twitter.  Firstly, and probably most importantly, the bi-directional friendship relationship is at the heart of Facebook and the fan pages which mimic the ‘follow’ model on Twitter were added later.  Secondly, rather than show every post from everyone in your network the Facebook default home page shows you a feed filtered for relevance.

Additionally, socialmediatoday credibly argues that the two step process of following a brand on Twitter (click on a link which takes you to their Twitter page, then click ‘follow’) filters out less committed consumers who would complete the one click ‘like’ on Facebook.

It is good to see marketers differentiating between different social media platforms like this, and also good to see them looking beyond headline numbers of fans to the quality of the list.  This sort of thinking will result in improved campaign performance and ultimately more money flowing into the sector.

I want to finish this post with the point that there are plenty of ways for advertisers to spend money on Facebook outside of fan pages, so this argument is not that Twitter is better for marketers than Facebook, not at all.  I continue to hear a lot of excited stories from affiliate types who are running very effective targeted display campaigns on Facebook taking advantage of social graph data and other information Facebook makes available.  From a Facebook perspective this is the big deal.