Last week I started my little Twitter-Facebook experiment in which I linked both accounts so that updates from Twitter would show up in Facebook and vice versa. I wanted to see what the changes are for me and for my followers / friends on both networks. Initially, I thought to let the experiment run for a few weeks. However, I will abort it partially today. But let’s start at the beginning.
Once I had decided to link my two accounts, I went in search of the right applications for Facebook to do so. Having Twitter updates displayed as Facebook status messages is pretty simple with Twitter’s own Facebook app. Doing the reverse took a while longer to set up. It finally worked with the SocialToo app for Facebook.
After everything was set up, I was pretty excited because the actual experiment could start. I sent a few tweets, I posted a couple of Facebook status updates and they showed up in Twitter and Facebook. As I had predicted, I was more active on Twitter than on Facebook. Thus, the biggest impact should have been in my Facebook network.
Waiting for responses
Coming to the stage of reviewing what was happening in my Facebook account, I can’t really say if anything happened at all. True, I have not polled my friends, but just observed. And there was nothing to observe. OK, a couple of people liked a Twitter message or commented on it, but otherwise nothing. This can mean a few things:
- they didn’t realize that something has changed
- they didn’t care that my status messages increased
- they didn’t care about some of the strange-looking status messages starting with RT
- they wondered about the strange-looking status messages, but didn’t care to inquire with me what happened
- they put me on the ignore-this-person’s-updates list due to the strange-looking messages
Getting the hives
Though nobody seemed to notice anything (or at least mention something to me), I got frustrated rather quickly which also led me to abort the experiment quickly.
Incidentally, danah boyd posted her insight into the difference between Twitter and Facebook status updates on the same day I started my experiment (I had not seen the post then). Many of her thoughts and also the comments on the post resonate with me. Conversations are easier to have on Facebook than on Twitter because the comment feature of Facebook places them right below the status update. Furthermore, the status updates and the comments can be longer than Twitter’s 140 characters.
I had already noted the difference in the audiences in my first post. As I use Twitter mainly for ed tech related stuff and Facebook for more personal things, I wondered how that would work out. My tweets are generally pretty straight-forward and include links or references to other Twitter users whereas my Facebook updates can be more cryptic and personal.
However, the single issue that led me to disconnect Twitter from Facebook is the fact that my tweets have context attached to them that my Facebook friends aren’t aware of and that may be strange to them as the majority are not on Twitter. For example: What do you make of a RT? What does a re-tweet has to do in Facebook? As I often refer to other Twitter users with the @ in a message, people don’t know about whom I talk. Of course, they could look up that person on Twitter, but that is too much work. There is no link back to my original tweet, but just a link to the Twitter app in Facebook. Gee thanks. That helps.
Fortunately, @ replies are left out of Facebook when the @ is the first character in a tweet.
Re-tweeting makes sense for me on Twitter as these tweets are either messages from my network or people close to it. I can easily click on the Twitter name of the persons who are re-tweeted and learn more about them or I can follow a link to their the status update and don’t have to search for it. On Facebook all that is taken away. The context is almost completely obscured.
The visual side of me also does not like how RTs look as status updates. It’s just wrong. I can’t really explain it. Maybe my brain has gotten used to the way my Facebook updates look and seeing a RT and @names there is just not visually pleasing. It is perfectly alright in Twitter, be it on the web or in any of the many desktop clients as that’s the natural habitat of my tweets.
Pulling the plug
The decision is made: I don’t want to have Twitter updates in Facebook anymore. I will deactivate the application and go back to Facebook-normal. I will keep SocialToo to be able to post from Facebook to Twitter. The good thing about this app is that you can decide an update-at-a-time whether it shall be posted to Twitter or not. If Twitter had such an option, I guess I would leave it connected to Facebook.