I have a local business and I want to be on social media, which is the best network for me – Facebook or Twitter?
Recently, when I did a post on Twitter strategy for brands, a social media enthusiast asked me if I could share some thoughts on which is the best network she should opt for when starting on social media. Well, there is no straight answer to the question!
Today, Facebook and Twitter are both social networks and can survive on their own. If someone debates that Facebook is a better platform for visual display of pictures which is true by and large, now Twitter also has the facility to showcase better visual content. In short, today you can survive by being present on any of the networks.
But then there are some differences and to an extent it depends on some vital factors that need to be considered before making your choice of network. The below pointers could help:
1. What is Your Objective?
Like any other activity before you start thinking about networks, content, time, etc. please be very clear about what you want to do on a social network. (you might have read this in each and every blog that writes about social media but trust me we are prone to making basic mistakes again and again) Why does your business need a social presence and what are you trying to achieve from being on social media. A clear cut objective can help you in deciding which network to choose since at some point both the networks are good at something and have limitations too.
Let’s say you have a business and your objective is to create awareness then Facebook stands out. As I have mentioned, Facebook has always been more appealing as it has been constantly working on the visuals. So if you have a visually appealing business then being on Facebook makes more sense.
You can upload images/videos on Twitter too but then your followers have to click on “Expand Media” to view the image and you can do so one at a time. Twitter can’t display images like Facebook as the above screen grab from Facebook depicts. So if your business falls under the visually appealing segments like restaurants, garments, cars, bikes, watches, etc. then Facebook should be your first choice.
However, if your objective is to connect to people on a regular basis then Twitter is the best. One-to-one conversation on Facebook is impossible for a brand unless you try cheap tricks which I don’t recommend.
2. Facebook works in India
Numbers matter so you can engage and build a community. 60 million is the present number of Facebook users in India, making it the most popular network in the country and in the world too. But then don’t blindly go for it, think on point number one and then think about the numbers.
Twitter is still struggling to have a decent number when compared to Facebook in India. The latest data revealed by We Are Social is shared below:
As a local business, cost is always a matter of concern and will always be. Opening a brand page on Facebook is very easy but getting the first set of fans can take you months unless you invite all your friends. Or you will have to run Facebook ads which is an expense. A fan can cost you somewhere between Rs. 7-8 when you do a basic targeting of 18-24 age group (the biggest chunk). However, your costs can go high if you want to target more niche crowd. So if you have the money then go for ads before working on your engagement strategy.
On the other hand, Twitter is a much open network and you can easily find people, add them or put them on a list, monitor them for a while, try and engage and take it further. All these activities don’t involve any cost but require two things – 1) Patience and 2) Hard work.
Twitter still has the support of the developer community so either you can use apps like Followerwonk (my fav) or try using the “Browse Categories” of the #Discover tab.
Twitter also has ads but then if you really can afford them then I would recommend to invest on Facebook ads because of better targeting and reach.
4. Running Contests
Engagement is also achieved by running contests at regular intervals or at timed intervals. On both networks, this could be achieved in various ways but Twitter platform seems to be more relaxed when it comes to contest guidelines.
On Facebook, you can’t run contests on the wall. So you need to build a Facebook app which involves cost. There are brands who run contests on the wall but that is against the guidelines. Rest you will have to plan them way ahead since you don’t want to increase your costs all the time. Even Facebook Offers, which was introduced some time back to reward fans is not free anymore.
On the other hand, you can easily run those small weekly contests on Twitter and create a buzz weaving around conversations on the platform. You can always tie up some incentives and you can run them as and when required without bothering too much about the platform. So it keeps the brand alive in the minds of tweeps and minimizes costs too. But don’t start spamming and tagging people round the clock on Twitter!
So, as you see picking one network or either of them is a difficult prediction. Having both the networks with a well-defined objective or having one of them that fits in your business plan is the right way to go. Social media should help you in achieving business success and as Shubho Sengupta states, “Business should look at social media as a force multiplier.”
I am keen to listen to your perspective on this common debate of which network is better suited to a local business.