Feature Showdown: Twitter 3, Facebook 4.

Cowritten by Chris Saad (@chrissaad), and Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang).

Situation: Twitter’s new redesign advances their user experience
Twitter has announced a new redesign today, yet by looking at the news, there hasn’t been a detailed breakdown of these two leading social networks.  Overall, Twitters new features start to resemble some features of a traditional social network, beyond their simple messaging heritage.  We took the key features from both social website and did a comparison and voted on the stronger player.

New Twitter Homepage (Mouse over to see my notes about new features, see below to see how the image embed works)
Above: Click image to see notes about the new Twitter features.


Comparative Matrix: Feature Showdown Between Facebook and the New Twitter

Feature Facebook Twitter Verdict
1) Content Stream Intelligent stream provides relevant content based on Facebook’s proprietary algorithm called “Edgerank” that surfaces more relevant information than a straight ‘stream of data’. Participating in a conversation, will propagate that conversation to friends of friends Twitter does not provide any intelligent filtering or sorting in the default feed, instead it’s sorted by reverse chronological order. Although filters and lists are available, these require manual setup. Our call? Facebook. Facebook’s content strategy and feed (the main attraction for a social utility, is far superior than Twitter’s rudimentaryam
2) Discussion and Reaction Management Facebook’s conversation features thread the discussion and comments inline in the stream, keeping conversations in context Users have to click on a tweet to see the reactions to that tweet in the newly expanded right column. Includes retweets and @ replies. Other participants that are not following each other do not see each others’ comments before participating. Our call? Facebook. FB’s sophisticated newsfeed model encourages peer to peer conversation, is different than Twitter’s broadcast model which encourages asynchronous responses.
3) Profile Features Facebook is slowly reducing the profiles features by removing heavyweight features like ‘boxes’ and ‘canvas apps’ streamlining the experience. Is beefing up their profile pages with ‘follow recommendations’ and ‘you both follow’ features, in order to encourage more interaction.  Their dead simple features make it easy to self express, and offer a limited profile Our call? Twitter.  While both these players are both meeting in the middle, with Facebook getting lighter, and Twitter is becoming more robust, Facebook’s features are excessive to most users, and simplicity trumps.
4) Application Platform Facebook has treated the platform as a proper product with developer relations (although often with challenges) viral distribution of the newsfeed, and developer ecosystem relationships. The application features are designed for third parties to quickly integrate using tabs. Over the past 12 months, Facebook has aggressively changed their strategy to encourage developers to spread the APIs to third party sites (vs only embedded on profile pages) , expanding Facebook’s colonies to the open web. This loose strategy has been adhoc with simple APIs without formal development initiative with no hooks to integrate apps into Twitter.com. In fact, Twitter only recently hosted their own developer conference this year. The relationship between Twitter and the developer community remains torrid, as they buy or build features from the developer community. For example, the latest release today, threatens the functionality of many existing clients. Our call? Facebook. FB is focused on a land grab for third party real estate, Twitter appears to be cannibalizing their own B2C developer ecosystem.
5) Multi Media Integration Media, such as video, is loaded and embedded right in the stream, as well as in stream playing. Third parties that inject media into the stream will embed into the service at will. Twitter’s new media features requires users to click and open separate screen –although embedded media plays in panel. A business dev relationship must be established for media to be detected from target URLs. For example, only partners of Twitter that have approved media will be able to play embedded media in the Twitter stream. Our call? Facebook. Facebook makes it easy for users to consume media, and for publishers to spread it. They make it easy.
6) Location Platform Facebook recently launched ‘Places’ feature and data, that allows for users to checkin upon arrival at a locale. This is manual and opt-in behavior for each checkin. Twitter offers opted in users offers each Tweet a location payload. Each Tweet is an implicit checkin. Our Call? Twitter. Twitter is more lightweight and could have more location data per opt-in user, hopefully increasing context in the future.
7) User Experience Design Facebook’s continues to streamline their formerly confusing experience, yet limits the amount of self-expression beyond text and media content. Twitter remains simply, but allows personalization in the form of color palettes and BG images, yet lacks depth in profile descriptions (interests, networks, and other personal info). Our call? Twitter. In the world of information overload, Twitter now has a nice balance between self-expression and simply to use and consume profile information
TALLY Facebook: 4 wins.
Twitter: 3 wins.

Our Verdict: While Facebook Leads, Twitter’s Redesign Strengthens as a Challenger.
Facebook’s features offer a more robust user experience, and they have a longer history of developing the right relationships with media, developers, and their users.   Twitter, a rapidly growing social network has launched a series of new features (described by the founder as “smooth like butter”) that provide users with a snappy experience and enhanced features.

Twitter is Evolving Beyond Just A Simple Messaging Systems Into a Full Fledged Social Network. We tallied the important features of this launch and to their overall expansion strategy and have concluded that Facebook’s features continue to hold dominance over Twitter, despite the noticeable improvements.  While we don’t expect that Twitter wants to become ‘another Facebook’ they should play to their strengths and remaining nimble and lightweight yet allowing for developers and content producer to better integrate into their system. One thing is clear, Twitter is enhancing their simple service with more features, which moves towards the feature rich experience Facebook offers.

  • Arteehazari

    Exactly what I was thinking…twitter trying to go the general social media way or maintaining its brevity status…
    I dont think this compaison wud hv even come up without the new twitter.com, the only useful feature is i wud know which reply has been to which tweet and can read a conversation.

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  • http://twitter.com/arteehazari artee

    Exactly what I was thinking…twitter trying to go the general social media way or maintaining its brevity status…
    I dont think this compaison wud hv even come up without the new twitter.com, the only useful feature is i wud know which reply has been to which tweet and can read a conversation.

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  • http://twitter.com/IreneKoehler Irene Koehler

    Well done, Jeremiah and Chris. I appreciate the thoughtful overview and side-by-side comparison of features. One thing I like very much about Twitter is the ability to easily connect with anyone through a lightweight follow. The barrier to connecting with someone new is incredibly low. This has allowed me to discover and develop relationships with people I may not have known otherwise.

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  • http://twitter.com/shyamster Shyam Subramanyan

    You are right on target regarding the App platform. Twitter needs to provide a way for apps to integrate in a “light” way to Twitter.com. The Twitter developer community should also mature and move away from building more clients…after all you don’t see too many Facebook clients. There are many interesting application possibilities with the Twitter platform.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisSaad Chris Saad

    Actually Twitter.com is the most popular way to use twitter and will probably be for a long time – Check out the Graph on Brian Solis’ post from this morning. There is a graph showing how popular each client is.

    http://www.briansolis.com/2010/09/the-new-and-improved-twitter/

  • http://www.directorysubmissionservices.net Nick

    I think very nice work of overview the comparison of both face book and twitter. AS i think face book is better than twitter in every work .but let see the comments depend upon the comments. Thanks for sharing..

  • http://JimRaffel.com/ Jim Raffel

    Thank you for taking the time to put the features side-by-side. Very useful to those of us who utilize the technology vs. spend our time watching and analyzing it. May not agree with all “your calls” but I appreciated the organization of the information very much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sloane.scott Sloane Elizabeth Scott

    Jeremiah and Chris,
    Kudos! As usual, your abilities to distill and clearly articulate are spot on. The matrix really helps put the features into a context that a client can understand. I appreciate your pov.

  • http://twitter.com/bhavishya Bhavishya Kanjhan

    While the comparison brings out some excellent observations, the conclusive decision feels inappropriate. I can't help but think we're comparing Apples to Oranges here; Kevin Thau also said that Twitter is not a social network, while it's clear that Facebook is. Yes the lines between them continue to blur and there is clearly room for competition, I don't think though one replaces the other, at least not yet.

  • DHS2020

    Twitter is the future of the newspaper.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    They are both social networks. The features I look for are 1) Profile features 2) Social graph 3) ability to do something interesting with both that you couldn't do before.

    Bhavishya Don't listen to vendor positioning as defacto, please. Imagine if we took face value for all marketing speak from companies.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    They are both social networks. The features I look for are 1) Profile features 2) Social graph 3) ability to do something interesting with both that you couldn't do before.

    Bhavishya Don't listen to vendor positioning as defacto, please. Imagine if we took face value for all marketing speak from companies.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    They are both social networks. The features I look for are 1) Profile features 2) Social graph 3) ability to do something interesting with both that you couldn't do before.

    Bhavishya Don't listen to vendor positioning as defacto, please. Imagine if we took face value for all marketing speak from companies.

  • Sol

    Thanks for this breakdown but who actually uses the Twitter site? I haven't been there in years. I just use a client because it's easier than going to a browser.

  • Sol

    Thanks for this breakdown but who actually uses the Twitter site? I haven't been there in years. I just use a client because it's easier than going to a browser.

  • Sol

    Thanks for this breakdown but who actually uses the Twitter site? I haven't been there in years. I just use a client because it's easier than going to a browser.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Jim

    Would love to hear your take! This is just from two folks who collaborated, feel free to share your verdicts.

  • PETE [stringfellow]

    First of all this is a great article, well done. I would say that in most cases, the non-geek people gravitate towards Facebook….and the rest of us use both. Not sure if this is an “apples to apples” matrix because they do different things, for different reasons. I do, however, appreciate the comparison. THANKS!!!

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Great to hear from you again Pete, and thanks for lunch the other day.

    I think the interesting finding is, while these tools may have different uses now, Twitter's redesign brings it a bit closer.

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  • cori

    This is a great comparison, guys, and an enlightening one.

    One thing that I think you missed that (to me, at least) is a win in Twitter's favor is the asymmetric follow/friending mechanism. This makes the conversations in Twitter far more dynamic and potentially far-reaching.

  • Ronney Coaction

    i like the way you have provided a side-by-side comparison of features, with both the networks battling out for the top spot, only time will tell who wins this social media internet war.
    although tweeter provides less features than Face Book today, it is much more easier to follow up with people with just one click on follow button.

  • 4chrisheuer

    from my perspective this means Twitter has identified that the most valuable usage has been to share links/media – ie, the core definition of social media (or socializing media as our good friend Ian Kennedy so eloquently said several years ago)

    It also means they are serious about getting people back on the platform directly (web) so they can set up for a stronger revenue model (whats percentage of on-site vs. off-site consumption and creation? (I think I saw a much lower percentage then in Brian's post not too long ago). Of course, multimedia has higher revenue value then links too, so it gives them a richer product to sell, and given the rates I have heard they are asking right now for being featured on the site as an advertiser (with one of the highest clickthroughs and engagement rates of anything in digital marketing in years) its a smart move for the marketing product and their future

    RE: competition, Twitter and Facebook are directly competitive within their sharing function which I suppose you cover in discussion, but I call it out specifically and distinctly. And now the are more competitive in their consumption function which it wasnt before, which is the number one reason people cite (to me anecdotally at least) for using Twitter, sharing media links and connecting with others – social discovery, promoting, sharing.

    Of course, Twitter is competitive to its users too, when people are spending their most valuable asset (time) reading through and interacting with others (real engagement), they aren't reading Web-Strategist… now of course this is nuanced, and it is in my book at least, more of a value creator then a detractor, but in the absolute sense, Twitter is competing for ATTENTION with everyone, all of our companies and even with this comment right now (YES, I WIN! … for the moment ;)

  • http://www.mihirlakhani.com Mihir

    a good move for twitter.
    gr8 analysis Chris & Jeremiah .. :)

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Everyone is competing for attention Chris. I appreciate you coming by, agreed sharing is happening, and they are now aggregating it back on site.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisSaad Chris Saad

    Agreed on all fronts Chris. What's interesting to me is that Ev and Biz and Dick promised something 'much more interesting than ads' and end up basically moving back to a place where borings ads seem to be the next logical step.

    In the end, though, I don't think that's a problem. Ads work. Selling public data doesn't.

  • http://twitter.com/PageRankSEO Robert Visser

    This review seems weighted to B2C. I would like to see a similar set of criteria the B2B use of Facebook & Twitter.

  • Tom Hopper

    Very nice comparison, but I think that you've left out two key comparisons: privacy/security and mobile access. In my opinion, Twitter is a clear winner in both categories.

    With Twitter's inherently simpler interactions and the wealth of sites and apps available for Twitter, mobile access is easy and often better than the main web interface. facebook's mobile interface, in contrast, sports a significantly reduced feature set, including lacking the ability to assign contacts to lists and the ability to see a message when replying to it.

    On security or privacy, it's arguable that most users are not sufficiently sophisticated to make effective choices, so your position as industry experts provides you with the opportunity to cultivate more knowledgeable users–and ultimately products that better serve those users. Here, again, I think that Twitter comes out on top, though by a slim margin. Factors include Twitter's more limited functionality, ease of working with multiple accounts (thanks largely to the many third-party apps) and facebook's history of altering user's settings in favor of a larger public sphere.

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  • Janrts

    I am new to the twitter revolution. I am using facebook and have a friendship basis on facebook. Why would one want to jump horses, and how would one compare who is on your facebook versus twitter contact data base? As facebook user, I am confused how one would gain by using both Twitter and Facebook.

  • http://moneytipsfrom.thezom.com Brian H.

    I use Hootsuite and this is the first I've read about the new Twitter. Have seen many tweets saying how wonderful it is, but never “tried” the new Twitter which I'm encouraged to do when I log on. Love the simplicity of Twitter. I've met some cool people, helped many and learned a lot.

    On Facebook, I get lost among the conversations I don't want to read. Too much noise on Facebook.

  • http://www.trophies2go.com engraved wall clock

    I've never been a huge twitter fan so I cant really tell the difference. I like Facebook better.

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