Guess what? Facebook is the new Twitter (kind of). And I don’t mean in the “French 60’s musicals is the new black” sort of way (though it’s totally true).
Earlier today Facebook had a little anouncement get together to call attention to some changes that they were about to make, and that have now gone into effect. Here’s the liveblog coverage from TechCrunch and here’s a good summary of the changes put together by Mashable.
Others have a done a good job with the dissection already, so I’m going to try to keep from rambling too badly, and pick out a couple of important points…
1. The mini-feed is being given greater importance (kinda like Twitter), and merged with the Wall feed. This is now going to be the main focus of people’s home pages. These pages are now updated in real time.
What this means: Real time interaction of Twitter is now how your Facebook feed is going to work. Facebook saw user engagement levels of Twitter going through the roof. They tried to buy Twitter, but no deal, so they took a deep breath, rolled up their sleeves and went to work hard core on the guts of their code. Now, months later, they have Twitter-like functionality. Keep in mind that Twitter had some severe growing pains while trying to achieve this because their popularity spiked so quickly before they finally pulled themselves together, made some personnel changes, and started to cut their downtime significantly.
Facebook is late to the game. Twitter has just about gone mainstream. Politicians, The View, celebrities – all on board. But there’s a massive number of people who are addicted to their Facebook who either 1) would be happy to drop their brand new Twitter accounts and focus their attention on one social networking portal, or 2) haven’t made the leap to Twitter, and may not see the need to do so now that this functionality is on Facebook.
The good news for both Facebook and Twitter is that many people will probably use one or the other to enter their updates, and then have them hooked up to run their feeds into each other (some people from Facebook into Twitter, others vice-versa, and of course there’ll be some love for FriendFeed and other services as well). In those cases both sites are getting access to the data – the updates – and that is what will end up being valuable in the long term. Data isn’t quite portable yet, but the openness and the ability to run feeds between your services means you can at least have duplicates of your data at all your different sites.
2. Limits of 5,000 fans/friends is lifted, and “Pages” now act like normal personal Facebook profiles.
It used to be that corporate pages, band pages, etc. didn’t have pages like you and I do on Facebook. They couldn’t make updates or really have true two-way interaction through the network. Now those pages work like normal pages – like personal pages, like ours. Corporate brands can start sending out status updates and interacting with their ‘fans’. Just like how Zappos has leveraged their community on Twitter, other corporate brands can begin to experiment with this type of communication through their Facebook portals, which have already been established, and already have some built in followers.
This change may actually make Facebook a more attractive place for brands to begin focusing their attention for social media marketing (see that mashable article again), though if they take the time and energy to post to either Facebook or Twitter, they really should be posting to both – the added cost is minimal, and the added benefit is potentially great.
Bottom line – very cool. The questions are:
1. Will Twitter ever have to abandon their minimalist style to counter this move by Facebook?
2. Will brands find the Facebook proposition much more attractive, and in turn does this have the potential to harm Twitter’s plans for revenue? (I don’t think it’s a fatal problem, but it may put a dent in their current plans.)
It’ll be interesting to watch!