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.