18 January 2010 | Team Tamar

Facebook/Twitter face-off

FB vs TW 2In the growing battle for online supremacy between Facebook and Twitter, is Facebook the one running scared?

Facebook has just soft launched its own Twitter-like retweet function called Share, a way for users to share other people’s status updates with their friends.

The new functionality will sit alongside the Comment and Like buttons at the bottom of a post. Facebook hopes that sharing posts will give users yet another reason to come back to the site – and stay on it. Other recent Twitter-like additions to Facebook include status tagging and the Live News feed.

Facebook app Farmville just won the Crunchie Award for Best Social Application this week and topped 10 million fans making it the most popular Facebook app of them all (and used by more people than Twitter).  Facebook also has 350 million users, to Twitter’s 60-odd million.  So I do wonder why Facebook appears to feel threatened by, or at least in competition with, Twitter.

And yet the Share function is another thing Facebook are doing to replicate Twitter – while the microblogging site sticks confidently to its formula.

And what about the potential privacy ruckus for Facebook if users who are ‘shared’ get upset about being published outside their group of friends? What will happen if you shared something that somebody doesn’t want you to share? Or will there be privacy measures in place?

Our head of social media here at Tamar, Henry Elliss, and a huge fan of both social networks, shared his opinion with me: “I wish Facebook would just feel confident in their own product – it annoys me for instance that you can set a Facebook Fan page’s updates to post to Twitter, but they don’t allow you to auto-populate your updates via Twitter (i.e. the other way round). Makes them look a bit scared, IMHO!”

I think it is unlikely that one will overshadow the other; each has its own functionalities – which is why I’m a member of both.

For example, the Cape Town office read with mounting horror the terrible tale of the Fish Hoek shark attack last week, as it was broadcast around the world on Twitter and localised with the use of the tag #sharkattack. News24 picked the story up on Twitter and ran with it.

On the other hand, I keep in touch with and chat intimately with friends from all over the world on Facebook – I couldn’t chat like that on Twitter!

At the end of the day, each has their own unique way of working and reasons for attracting and keeping users. And they should keep it that way.

Image: Jesse Thomas

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Team Tamar