I’ve thought for some considerable time now about Twitter and how I feel it actually has more value than facebook with regards to advertising. The difference is context. However, I want to take a moment to look at it from a different angle. There is another key factor that drives the value of the network and the way you can monetize it, The authenticity of the network.
Facebook is as authentic of a network as you can have, you have you, you are you, you’re not FunChick21, or MotorcycleGuy42, You’re Craig Kerstiens. You have a birthdate, which is likely you’re birthdate, you have a job that is your job, you have friends that are you’re friends. Facebook is probably as close to a virtual representation of your true life as you can get on a social network.
Then you have Twitter. Twitter is probably as inauthentic as they come. You ARE FunChick21 or MotorcycleGuy42. You have that name, and that’s it. You have friends, but they’re up to you, it’s a one way relationship, not confirmation of friendship. For that reason you have 1,000,000 people following Ashton Kutcher, and he follows under 100. You’re friends could be celebrities, they could be friends, they could be random people that you liked their tweets.
Facebook from an ad perspective I know almost everything I could want to about you from an ad targeting perspective. Few sites could give much more demographic info that I’d want to target effectively. Twitter I have next to nothing, I have a user name, and the content of what you say.
So there’s an advantage to facebook. But then you have the context of what I’m trying to do. If you’re facebook, you have users engaged in the site not wanting to leave. If you’re Twitter you have users that won’t be on the site for beyond 60 seconds. Getting them to leave shouldn’t be an issue, which means if you can drive where they are leaving to it should work out well for you.
But there’s a final piece. It’s a heavily growing marketplace, that really neither of the major communities picks up on, and it’s virtual goods. Virtual goods exist in either form of network, but neither seems to take advantage, meanwhile it’s the entire basis behinds such communities as World of Warcraft. How will they start to roll into mainstream networks, that’s yet to be seen, but I’ll be curious if virtual goods can become dominant in authentic networks or if they’ll primarily reside in inauthentic networks as they do today.