Whenever we talk about social media marketing, it’s always with the big name social networks in mind. There’s the big two of Facebook and Twitter. If you make it the big three, you add Instagram to the mix, though with Google’s recent decision to pull it from YouTube, we might see the network sputter and die within the next few years. If you expand the list from there, it becomes a bit more modular. You want to target a female crowd, you go with Pinterest. If you’re image-heavy, you go with Instagram. If you’re looking for a young liberal demographic, you go for Reddit.
The thing is, many businesses can’t afford the time and energy required to run them both, at least not right away. Rather than ignore social media entirely, they do the smart thing, and try to pick one to use and grow until they can expand into another, and another, and another.
Facebook has more users. No matter how you slice it, in terms of raw numbers, there are more people on Facebook and you can reach more of them with the same amount of effort you use on Twitter. It’s just a fact.
Yes, Twitter doesn’t filter their feed. The thing is, with the character limit, tweets come thick and fast at all hours of the day. If you’re not timing your messages just right, they get lost in the crush just as easily as they would if they were filtered out. You can’t count on an unfiltered feed to save you where Facebook’s algorithm won’t.
I would say that, when used properly, Facebook has the better pay per click system as well. The targeting options, the reach, and the low cost all combine to make it one of the best PPC platforms period. Twitter just doesn’t have the same amount of value and flexibility.
Back in 2011, Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, did an experiment by posting a link on the big three social networks. After an hour, he had 2,053 clicks from Twitter and 2,203 clicks from Facebook. The numbers are comparable, but the larger pool was not. That’s drawing from 220,000 followers on Facebook, but from a pool of 1.2 million on Twitter. A drastically lower click through rate on Twitter than on Facebook. His check later, after 17 hours, saw Facebook even more firmly in the lead, ahead of Twitter by 3,000 clicks.
Of course, that’s old data. In the four years since that experiment was performed, Facebook has made several moves that hurt business reach, while Twitter has remained largely the same in many ways.
In that experimental link, Buffer does some analysis that might convince you to use Twitter instead. On Facebook, you should only post about once per day, or once every two days. Meanwhile, on Twitter, you should be posting multiple times every day. Assuming that you post around 15 times per day on Twitter, and half of those posts link to your site, the numbers stack up.
- Facebook is best if you have a smaller audience.
- Facebook is best if you don’t have time to make very many posts, or don’t have much content to share regularly.
- Twitter is best if you have a larger or rapidly growing audience.
- Twitter is best if you have a lot of content to share, or post multiple pieces of content per day.
- Facebook had a slightly higher time spent on site per visit than Twitter, but only by a handful of seconds.
- Twitter had a higher number of pages viewed per site than Facebook, though again the difference was very close.
- Both sites had measured bounce rates coming out to identical numbers.
- YouTube absolutely crushed both sites, with nearly double the time spent on site, a higher number of pages viewed per visit, and a lower bounce rate.
- Use large, visually appealing images. I recommend staying away from memes unless you’re confident that they’ll be relevant by the time you post them. Nothing is sadder than a business using outdated memes to try to reach a demographic that just mocks them for their attempts.
- Keep your updates short, text-wise. Believe it or not, the ideal length for a Facebook post is actually shorter than a Twitter post, because of the way people tend to focus more on images than on text.
- Phrase your updates in the form of a question. It’s not just a rule in Jeopardy; it’s a way of life on Facebook. Questions, even if they’re rhetorical or hypothetical, solicit responses. You may not care about the answers people give in response, but those comments are valuable nonetheless.
- Remove your links after you post them. When you paste a link into the Facebook update box, the site generates a preview based on your meta data. You can freely edit this preview, and you can remove the link in the post box with no issues. Most users click on the image or headline in the preview rather than the link in your text post anyways.
- If possible, use Facebook videos. Facebook has begun to rival YouTube as one of the largest video hosts online, and there are a ton of people who just love video posts on the site. If you can harness those users, you have a lot less competition for attention.
- Curate content. By posting content from other blogs and shared from other influential users, you attract some of the people who want to see those posts to follow your page. If you can become known in your industry as a go-to source for keeping up with multiple sites simultaneously, you’ll grow just based on that power alone.
- Don’t over-share content from other users. You need to have plenty of your own content to send users to your site. Remember how I talked above about volume? Maintain that one post per day on Facebook for your own content, and add more posts each day for curated content.
- If you have the budget, use Facebook ads. They’re very potent when used properly, but they’re also very easy to use poorly. Almost every horror story you hear about someone losing their money and getting nothing but bot traffic from Facebook is from someone who didn’t know how to use Facebook with targeting options and budget set.
- Be short. Just because you have 140 characters doesn’t mean you need to use them all. In fact, doing more with less is going to be something of a theme with Twitter. Studies have shown that tweets under 100 characters tend to have more engagement than longer tweets.
- Be provocative. If you’re including a link in your tweet, leave your audience hanging in such a way that if they want to know more, they have to click. I don’t mean clickbait, here; I mean something a bit more sophisticated.
- Come up with some of the most interesting one-line quotes from each post you want to share and tweet them. Ideally, you’ll have a couple for each post, and you’ll test out which one works best by posting them at different times of day for different groups of users. You don’t always need to limit yourself to the title of your post!
- Don’t forget to use plenty of hashtags. Make sure you always use them properly, though. Don’t try to horn in on an unrelated hashtag and throw your post into the conversation. Definitely never try to hijack an existing activist tag with a marketing message. It doesn’t work.
- It can’t be stated enough; research any hashtag you want to use before you use it. When in doubt, invent your own and use it for future branded campaigns.
- When you mention a brand or influential person in your post, use the @mention option when you create a post. You’ll notify them, as well as people searching for them, and you’ll have the opportunity to get a response from them. If you’re lucky, you could get a retweet or favorite as well.
- You can also use the @mention system to give recognition to high profile users leaving good comments on your posts or your tweets. Give them recognition and they’ll be more than happy to keep leaving good comments.
- If someone else creates a tweet linking to your site, retweet their posts. It’s a simple way to acknowledge that they mentioned you, and it gives them recognition. Even other businesses crave recognition.
- Don’t forget images. Images are as important on Twitter as they are on Facebook, though they display a little differently. Make sure to preview any image you want to use before you use it, to make sure it shows up properly on the site.
- On a related note, you can use animated gifs or even Vines in your Twitter posts. Do so, and you can capitalize on the relative infrequency of multimedia posts on Twitter.
- Consider using Twitter’s promoted tweets feature. This is their paid advertising option, and while it’s not as targeted or as robust as Facebook’s PPC, it’s still very potent.