It's Facebook, Stupid (Not Twitter, by a Margin of 5 to 1)

Twitter has certainly been on everyone’s minds lately. The company’s traffic has declined recently, but its news coverage hasn’t. TechCrunch has written about Twitter 45 times in the last 15 days alone — including MG Siegler’s magisterial 2,500-word think-piece on Twitter’s re-tweet function .

Over the same fortnight, TechCrunch has written about only one other company so often — exactly as often in fact — and that is Google, with hundreds of products and $180 billion in market capitalization, which has in the past 15 days settled its dispute with book publishers, announced a $750M acquisition with federal anti-trust implications, and launched a major new rival to the iPhone.

By comparison, TechCrunch has only written 34 times about Facebook, often as an afterthought, in a post about Twitter.

But don’t blame TechCrunch; its Twitter articles get more traffic than posts about almost any other subject. And besides, while the distribution of overall media coverage is different from TechCrunch’s distribution, it isn’t that different. It’s the nature of news organizations to cover new companies more than old companies, and thank goodness for Redfin and all the other new companies in the world that this is so. It’s also undeniable that Twitter’s popularity among the media is in part driven by Twitter’s usefulness to the media, especially now that every journalist feels compelled to build her own personal brand.

But even if Twitter’s importance among journalists is natural and even good, entrepreneurs may not want to accord it the same importance.

It’s natural for us to focus on the bright shiny company, too. We certainly have here at Redfin, discussing all sorts of features to encourage Redfin users to share data via our site using Twitter. But we also survey our users two or three times a year, and here’s what we found last week when we asked 450 consumers what social networks they use: that they prefer Facebook by a margin of nearly 5 to 1.

TwittervsFacebook

So straight away, Redfin’s Lisa Taylor started working on sprucing up our local Facebook pages in Seattle, the Bay Area, Sacramento, LA, Orange County, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, DC and New York. Please join up!

And meanwhile, we wondered: could our users’ preference for Facebook be because our demographic is different? Well actually if any group of consumers could skew toward Twitter, it would be Redfin’s user-base, big-time: according to the same survey, our users are mostly male, about a third high-tech, and young but not too young (none of the teenagers who prefer Facebook are likely to be looking for a house). It’s hard to imagine a business with a meaningful cross-section of consumers that would have a different result.

So journalists and bloggers should keep talking about Twitter. But entrepreneurs shouldn’t always listen, at least not yet.

Discussion

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  • http://twitter.com/manjeera Manjeera

    Interesting article. Although your Facebook to Twitter ratio is 5:1, you certainly need to think about how many of your consumers would be interested in sharing data about Redfin related data with their friends? The one advantage that twitter offers that Facebook doesn’t is the RT effects of your followers amplifying a piece of content to their network of users, hence creating a viral effect. If you look at stats related to the number of RTs vs. the number of shares on facebook, there is a significant difference. Ever wondered why that is the case?:)

  • http://blog.redfin.com/blog/author/glenn%20kelman Glenn Kelman

    Manjeera, that’s a really intelligent point about re-tweets; we hadn’t thought of that… I think people on Facebook focus more on a smaller number of personal updates whereas Twitter is just naturally a link-forwarding system.

  • http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-dickson Andrea Dickson

    Funny, I was just discussing this last night with someone. I don’t user Twitter; I just don’t see the usefulness for an individual, and I don’t see an application for it that is more useful than email, Facebook, or Google alerts.

    I can see where businesses would use it to create and promote a brand, but even with this, I doubt I’d be tempted to follow.