Facebook & News

Been doing some thinking about how I consume news on facebook, which I basically don’t. For the past couple months, I’ve been managing social media platforms for a start-up company. I also managed the SM platforms for the organization that I interned for in Auckland when I traveled there.

In both instances, I’ve had a lot more “success” with Twitter than I have with facebook. Both of the companies had relatively low online profiles and one of the objectives that I had for both organizations was to make them not just a company that offered consulting or a product, but also a news source for people who were interested in their services. Y’know, Web 2.0, we are all publishers now, content is king, all of that jazz. For Twitter, it’s worked out real well. At SBN, in Auckland, I was on Twitter for six or seven hours a day when I was there, sending out relevant articles that I’d found, talking to people (customers and non-customers alike) and tapping into the zeitgeist of the day. I added a bunch of followers for the SBN Twitter feed (more than 60% increase), and although that didn’t hasn’t yet translated into more business for the company (although it almost did twice), it got their name out to more people, gained them more exposure and did establish in some way the SBN (arrrg awful PR word warning) brand as a promoter of good information. Not too bad, in my eyes. And I was only there three days a week.

Back here in Boston, it’s been pretty much the same story. Twitter has worked well, we’ve got more people paying attention to the company. But facebook, in both instances, really hasn’t done too much, at least not to my knowledge. I’d post articles up there a few times a day, but there hasn’t really been much feedback at either organization. Not too many likes, very few comments.

I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve got a few ideas. Twitter is, to me, a more direct, much faster medium. It’s also a higher-volume medium. If you constantly post stuff on facebook, people get pissed off because it clogs up their feed. All Twitter is is a feed, so I think that’s less of an issue, although obviously boring people who constantly tweet inane shit are really annoying. And I spent a bunch more time on Twitter in SBN, which must’ve been a factor, although that difference in time has been less stark here in Boston.

Another reason might be that you need an established facebook community to see more return. It’s easy to build a community of listeners quicker on Twitter, by dint of the medium’s speed. With facebook, I think it’s harder, because the content isn’t generated and directed around in the same hectic frenzy. If I’d had 5k likes on facebook at either company, I’m sure I would’ve seen more feedback, but because I didn’t, and because that takes far more time to build for facebook than for Twitter, facebook action has lagged.

A final reason, and the one that actually prompted me to write this post (the above reasons occurred to me as I was typing) is that people use facebook for different ways and this can be dependent on mood. I know I’m not typical for my age in that I spend very little time in fb during my free time and basically use it for interaction with friends and nothing else. When I log in to facebook, I’m not looking for DemocracyNow or Occupy Boston news. When I see their posts on facebook, I scroll by them every single time, even though those are two organizations whose mission/content does in fact interest me. I do that because I’m on fb to see the status of a few friends, maybe drop in a snarky comment and leave. I’m not there to consume news or products or build my online identity through liking different organizations, even if I do in fact like them. I consume too much enough news anyway and I’m not looking for that from my facebook feed.

As I said, I know I’m not the norm. But I wonder what percentage of people use facebook in a similar discriminatory way. If there were any way to get that information through polling, I’m betting marketers would cut off their arms to get at it. Or maybe that info already exists and I don’t know about it. Either way, I think that knowing usage preference/individual utility is potentially quite powerful, if it can be measured, sorted and leveraged.

And, at the end of this very text heavy posts, here’s some muzak. Been listening to this song a bunch in the past couple weeks. I need to get more of Mark Knopfler’s stuff.

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