Monday, February 18, 2008

Friends, friendlies, and why I like Twitter better than Facebook

Chris Brogan has come up with a great term for all those people that you know on places like Twitter, Facebook, and even MySpace, the people that you know of, that you share some information with, but that aren't yet your friends.

Chris calls them 'friendlies'.

This also reminds me of Kathy Sierra's idea that the success of an app lies in how quickly it can move its users past the 'I Suck' threshold. Likewise, I think the success of a social app or site depends on how well it helps us convert friendlies into friends.

I've had plenty of 'friendlies' on MySpace, on Facebook, and on Twitter. But these days, Twitter is the only site that I spend any time with. I cancelled my MySpace account months ago, and now barely access my Facebook profile on a weekly basis. But I use Twitter almost daily.

Originally, I was very excited about Facebook. The biggest reason why, was the belief that Facebook would help me better connect and build connections with all these 'friendlies' I have, so that they could become my friends.

But I found out that Facebook, at least for me, didn't really work well in converting friendlies into friends. But Twitter does. Probably because it has interaction built-in. Where Facebook is built on sharing information, Twitter is built on exchanging it. It's built on conversation, and that leads to stronger connections which help convert friendlies into friends.

If I were building a new social app/site/network, I would focus on how quickly and easily it allows friendlies to come together and become friends.

Pic via Flickr user PhototPJ

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Chris Brogan said...

Great post, Mack. I think the difference in those sites to me (and your mileage may vary) is that the barrier to use is super low for Twitter, and that the "what am I supposed to do?" is spelled out super clearly on Twitter.

WATCH someone use Facebook. Watch someone who you consider a "good" user, and watch someone new. They both do it utterly different. I do it somewhere in between. One reason is that a "good" Facebook user eats up lots of cycles "doing" things.

Twitter's thinner, and has a faster payload to the meat of the social connection.

My 24 cents, actually.

Mack Collier said...

I agree on Twitter, you don't have to put much into it to get a lot back. This is also why I think it will be hard for video versions such as ooVoo and Seesmic to be as popular, because not everyone is set-up to do video chat, and not everyone wants to. As you said, much lower barrier to entry with Twitter.

Anonymous said...

I left and immediately returned after thinking about your post and Chris's comment. Question: Yes, Twitter requires little. But what does it offer? Do we learn anything about someone in 140 characters?

This is a sincere question, Mack. I use Twitter but don't find it very engaging. I see folks trying to engage others but with little or no response. Where's the value?

Mack Collier said...

Lewis I am finding that I have to set aside time just for Twitter. I have to focus on scanning the conversations that are happening and then find one I like and jump in and contribute where I can.

BTW I do think it's fun to watch Twitter while there is an event happening, like a political debate, the Grammys, or a football game. Often the commentary from the people I am following on Twitter are more enjoyable than the event itself ;)

Anonymous said...

I just starting Twittering today after a friend suggested it based on my affinity for keeping my Facebook Status current. Fun so far.

In addition to becoming familiar with the Twitter space, I'm also it will help with my SEO efforts for my newly launched branding blog.

Chris Brogan said...

If we *only* had 140 characters, I'd agree. But we have pages and pages and pages of 140 characters, and Twitter wasn't designed to learn someone's history, likes, and dislikes. It was designed for conversation. I posit that we can learn what you want us to learn by reading your FB page, crafted and considered, but what we see in your Twitter is more likely who you are.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking my two fingers and pointing them at my eyeballs... then rotating my wrist and pointing them at your two eyeballs, Mack...

In other words, I totally agree. I was a huge FB Fan and now I've cooled on it. I like Twitter more for the conversation and connection.

That said, I am not abandoning FB completely. I still regard FB as a nice repository for all my contacts -- sort of a giant living, breathing Rolodex.

Mack Collier said...

"That said, I am not abandoning FB completely. I still regard FB as a nice repository for all my contacts -- sort of a giant living, breathing Rolodex."

It's funny because both Facebook and LinkedIn still have areas that I find value in. With Facebook it's mainly the groups, with LinkedIn it's the question and answers section.

But I still have to remind myself to check either site on even a weekly basis. But I am on Twitter almost daily.

Chris Brogan said...

I use Facebook as an "outpost." It's a great place for people to find some of my stuff, learn a little more about me, and then hopefully come back to the mother ship.

Learning about setting up some more outposts as I go, and staying at least marginally relevant there, as best as I can.

Mack Collier said...

"I use Facebook as an "outpost." It's a great place for people to find some of my stuff, learn a little more about me, and then hopefully come back to the mother ship."

That's one thing I like about the Blog Friends app on Facebook, because it at least puts my new blog posts on my profile so people can read them.

But I am trying to keep from spreading myself 'too thin' by being on too many sites/networks. Right now Twitter gets about all my non-blog time.

Anonymous said...

This is the comment where I don't say I told you so. ;)

You are right on about Twitter. There's something about that little text box that is approachable and downright fun. Plus I can go to Twitter and see what people are thinking, saying and doing and TALK with people without having to wade through 100 different "take this quiz" requests.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to agree on both interaction and using Twitter as an outpost.

I can't say much for actually converting friendlies (But then I've only been on Twitter for a couple of weeks), but I have to say even among the early adopters, Twitter isn't quite catching on (at least here in Singapore), perhaps because everyone's already on Facebook, and to them, Facebook already let's them express "what're you doing?"

Mack Collier said...

@onepinktee And there's also multiple conversations/streams going on at once, so you can just jump in the ones that interest you.

Unique, that's an interesting perspective from your area. Seems that from the people I am following, Facebook is waning in popularity. But still cool to see how different areas are using the services in different ways.