It’s not news to anyone that there are a lot of behavioral concepts at work when users explore networks like Twitter and Facebook. While companies keep digging to solve for the value of a “Like” on a Facebook page or a “Follow” on a Twitter account, have you ever stepped back and thought what some of these “actions” mean to you personally. I had a moment today when Twitter made me smile. @arifuchs someone I respect, “favorited” one of my tweets, specifically a blog post I did a few days ago. I’m going to be honest, when similar folks “liked” the post on my Facebook wall I don’t get the same joy. So here’s my attempt at explaining why…
Twitter is a very Public platform assuming you don’t have a locked account and Facebook is a very private platform assuming you don’t share everything on a public setting. In contrast the actions you take on
the platforms directly oppose their overall feeling of public or private. They both have “ReTweet” and “Share” buttons that basically create a “Hey everybody! Look at this cool thing I found!” They also have reaction options such as “Reply” and “Comment” which allow for somewhat private reactions to content. Finally, there are the passive action buttons of “Like”
and “Favorite” – these I see as having very different functions. On
the surface both allow you to throw some “Kudos” to the user, but the way the “Kudos” is delivered makes all the difference. ..
Personal vs. Public
When someone “Likes” your content on Facebook they are saying to everyone else who see’s that content, I like this. While at the same time triggering a heads up to you that they “Like” your content. The experience is more a public display than private. When someone “Favorites” a tweet it doesn’t become a focal point of the tweet like on Facebook, rather it is subtly added to the full info of the tweet if a user clicks into it. All this while again triggering a heads up to you that they like what you tweeted. The experience is much more personal, given the only incentive behind the action of a “Favorite” is to support the content creator.
Direct vs. Indirect
Going one step further, I see a “Like” as an indirect form of support. Since there is an incentive to publicly associate one’s self with good content, the psychology that drives someone to “Like” content creates an indirect sort of “Kudos”. Again with the “Favorite”, since there isn’t a “to be seen” quality to the action, it feels like a much more direct and real action of support.
In my private Facebook network it makes perfect sense for those who support my content to be pretty obvious. (The listed “Likes”) In a public network (Twitter) however, it makes a lot of sense to really focus on the content first then as sub-content (hidden) offer up who is involved. (“ReTweets” and “Favorites”) This brings me to something I think is at the core as to the difference between Facebook and Twitter form a high level: Facebook for most part is a fundamentally private network that creates (because it’s a closed system) one large shared relationship with many, while Twitter for the most part is a public network that creates (because it’s an open system) many relationships with few. On Twitter short-lived social relationships sprout, grow, and die every day making the platform new (to a point) to the user every time they invest time on Twitter, whereas Facebook is one very large long-term relationship reflected in an ever-growing experience where the user gains their value over a long period of time. There is a reason your profile (“Timeline”) on Facebook is so important to you as it is built from your content, while most people only focus on the content they post on Twitter in the now (real-time) – their long-term profile really isn’t a big part of the experience.
So if you can’t tell, I like Twitter a lot. But that’s mostly because over the time I’ve built out my Facebook “Timeline” I had a major change in who I am… and who my network is. I graduated college and moved on to a working world miles away both physically and mentally, making a large portion of the “Timeline” I had built into only a memory rather than an active long-term relationship. For me both platforms are great, but only in their purpose, which brings me back to the title. At the end of the day I’ll always value private displays of support over public ones. Maybe its just me.
Thanks for Listening,