Feeding Facebook – About those bloody Twitter updates
Right. Time to get stuck in to a topic that hits a lot of nerves: Why some people import Tweets into Facebook. I’m not trying to start a debate here, rather to cast light on why some choose to do this.
Firstly, I’ll mention that due to Facebook changing the news feed, Twitter and Google getting friendly and Twitter introducing lists, both services are currently undergoing a bit of change. This means that users of both (especially those sending tweets through to Facebook) will be making adjustments. For starters, tweets get indexed by Google and Twitterers might have more luck keeping track of their real friends (thus also negating two of the main reasons for things like “Daily tweet” digests).
Anyway, there’s plenty of people wondering about the differences between the two services and what sort of status update goes to where. Danah Boyd also had a rant recently about the difference in status updates between Facebook and Twitter status updates. There are definitely differences between the two in regards to audience and conversation.
When I tweet it goes to thousands of people – some who are followers, some who see RTs and some who are searching hashtags or words. That audience is largely professional in nature. It’s public, immediate and it’s instantly part of a larger conversation. Twitter is about what’s happening throughout the world. It’s about news, thoughts, ideas, conversation and random funny things – but it’s also about everyone. You see humanising snippets of lives that remind you that you’re talking to real people. It’s the world talking to the world. People dip in and out as it suits them, talking to whoever is interesting or on-topic while they’re there. You miss some things and you catch others – It’s not important. When I’m online I see Twitter updates via Growl, constantly showing me interesting new stuff. Twitter is ubiquitous information gathering. Twitter is ephemeral. Twitter is about NOW.
Facebook is, due to the reciprocal friending practices, all about friends. Real friends. Yes, some people have also friended contacts and networkers as well as their friends. But largely, it’s about real friends. It’s like a one-stop shop for friend info. Facebook seems to be trying to branch into the worldwide-info market as well, but that’s not the point. For now, Facebook is the go-to place when you want to find out what your real friends have been up to.
I have no idea what you’re up to these days – you never post to Facebook.
I have to admit, when I first saw people bringing tweets into Facebook I was thinking “You’re doing it wrong!”. It still irks me that the Twitter app doesn’t work like it used to any more. The official Twitter app used to bring your tweets into your wall sweetly with a little Twitter logo. It was part of the news feed and if people didn’t want to see it they could just hide stuff from that app. But the app doesn’t work like that any more and none of the current working apps seem to do that – they all post as a status update. So, it was a big decision to cross the line and become an evil Twitter-Facebook crossposter.
Now, across many social networks I maintain separate information. Each network serves its purpose and has a different audience. I wanted to keep Facebook as a separate social network and not to replicate information – duplication is annoying! But the point is, Facebook is different for two very important reasons. Firstly, because information created in Facebook is largely stuck in Facebook (unless you can find the magic RSS feed) – it’s a walled garden. That doesn’t encourage people to create original content in Facebook. Secondly, because it really is the one-stop shop for friend info. Not many of my Facebook friends bother to follow RSS feeds – especially not now that Facebook is the place to go for friend info. And why would they go to Friendfeed and set up an account there, when they really want to see everything in Facebook with everything else? So, it’s up to me to make sure that all the stuff they might like to know about me is in Facebook where they’ll find it. In that respect, I’m treating Facebook as a lifestream. In goes a selected stream of stuff I do online, picked for relevance to my real-life friends. This is the general mentality of the people importing tweets and RSS feeds into Facebook. We have simply started to see Facebook as more of a lifestream for friends.
I’m actually quite glad that so many of my Twitter friends import their more interesting tweets into Facebook. If they didn’t I’d probably never see them. Even when I’m actively following Twitter I tend to miss things said by my own friends. This makes sure I don’t.
As for content, I guess it’s a constant adjustment to ensure just the right stuff is coming through. Twitter can get pretty chatty and it would be crazy to update your Facebook status that often. Some speak of Twitter as a mind-state versus Facebook as a life-state. That’s true for some. And for some, it’s only true sometimes. Humans are a pretty diverse mob. But for me, whether it’s something interesting I thought, saw, read or did, the final decision to send it to Facebook is largely about whether I think any of my friends will be interested. Also, since I don’t yet have an iPhone (or in fact a phone with internet or email access), I can’t update my Facebook status when I’m out and about. I can, however, send an SMS to Twitter and have it go through to Facebook if it’s relevant to my Facebook friends. So, Twitter is essentially the best path to get information from me to the internet at large. In that sense, things that I might have posted purely to Facebook are travelling through Twitter as well.
If you’re reading this and still all riled up that your friends are posting things to Facebook and it’s all just getting too much, I have an idea for you. Create a Facebook friends lists for “People I don’t follow elsewhere” and filter out the noise. Or just follow them via Facebook.
The point of all this is that there are many people out there who have realised that Facebook is where people go to find out about friends and that if we’re to supply these friends with the information they’re looking for then it’s best put on Facebook by us. There’s no point expecting people try to keep track of their own friends – we just have to take the information to where they’ll read it.
Image Credit: MagerLeagues
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