In a word, the advantage Twitter has over Facebook is: openness.  On Twitter profiles are public by default, meaning most tweets are part of public conversation and are able to be searched and analyzed.  “We believe Twitter is the largest source of public conversation in the world,” Twitter wrote in its S-1 filing.  Believe me, this is something Facebook is truly jealous about.

Part of the reason conversations on Twitter are so viral is the fact that anyone can take part and/or jump in on any public conversation and add their own 2 cents. Do you want to tell Miley Cyrus how much you love or hate her new music video?  You can do that with Twitter.  Do you want to start a movement on Twitter?  You can do that (or at least try to). Did Justin Bieber do something even more ridiculous than his last set of shenanigans? You can speak your mind about that (and likely get attacked by a swarm of “Beliebers” in the process, but hey, that’s part of the fun).

From hashtags to retweets, tweets can travel far and wide — very quickly.  You just don’t have the same experience on Facebook.  Your posts on Facebook may bounce around your friends for a few hours, but ultimately, it’s no Twitter when it comes to spreading information and news.  In fact, a recent study has shown Facebook Hashtags actually do not provide additional exposure, which is unfortunate to hear, especially for Facebook, as it battles with Twitter for brands to use the service.

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With Twitter, it is much easier to see what people are saying about your brand, you aren’t limited to just your page (as is mostly the case with Facebook because most profiles are private).  I remember when I worked in social analytics, Twitter always had more social content for pretty much every brand we provided analytics for.  Again, this is because most Facebook profiles and posts are private and that content isn’t able to be collected.

It’s funny because Facebook realizes this lack of openness is a big problem for the company and has been slowly trying to get people to open up their profiles bit by bit.  The introduction of hashtags and embedded posts were just the start, now Facebook is sharing realtime audience data with TV networks, news organizations, and select analytics firms as well in an effort to better leverage its data and turn it into more dollars.  One thing I’m curious about regarding the sharing of realtime audience data is if Facebook is offering up data from private profiles or if it’s just based on the public data it has at its disposal.

All this openness can be leveraged and turned into dollars.  Yes, for advertising, but also as analytics and other metrics.  Twitter’s acquisition of Bluefin Labs shows the company’s interest in analytics and leveraging data.  I think it’s clear that TV is going to a big area for Twitter to generate revenue, from analytics to selling ads. And unlike the question marks that surrounded Facebook’s advertisements during its IPO (even though they turned out to be wrong), Twitter’s ads are actually performing very well.

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One of Twitter’s ad-types that I think has a lot of promise is its “TV Targeting Ads” which allows companies to run Twitter-based advertisements of their products in conjunction with their nationally-televised advertisements.  The numbers behind these ads are great. Users that Twitter found were viewing a televised commercial and were exposed to a promoted tweet “demonstrate 95% stronger message association and 58% higher purchase intent” compared to users who only saw the television commercial.  And according to Twitter, engagement rates were over 27% higher than historical averages – which is a pretty significant boost.

When you pair the analytics and ads with the new DVR feature [reportedly] in the works and how Twitter is continually striking deals with various broadcast companies and even the NFL, it just seems that TV will be a big factor for Twitter going forward.

In the end I think Twitter’s open nature will allow it to be a massive success as a business and also with investors.


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