THE BLOG

Is Twitter the Social Media Site for the Future?

05/12/2014 03:05 pm ET | Updated Jul 12, 2014
  • Kim Garst Social media and brand strategist

I frequently get asked which social media sites I think people should be on. The short answer is "ALL of the top ones". That means Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. Please don't forget your website and/or blogging platform.

That should do it.

Oops, I almost forgot one. YouTube, you definitely need to have a strong presence on YouTube. Oh a couple more: Vine and Snapchat are great if you have the time!

What? You do not have the time?

It can be difficult to do it all, right?

So here is a better question. Which ONE social media site would you be on if you could only be on ONE site?

For me the answer is still Facebook, but I am pretty darned close to changing that vote to Twitter.

Here is a great graphic created by Steve Tappin that gives a subjective comparison of Facebook and Twitter:


Some pretty major differences right?

When you look at things objectively, it seems like a one-sided fight. Both companies are publically traded. Facebook has a market valuation of just under $147 billion while Twitter's is a "paltry" $19 billion. Also, Twitter's stock has plummeted recently settling back near its $26 IPO price. Facebook has 1.2 billion+ users including 802 million daily active users while Twitter's monthly active users totaled only 255 million.

So am I crazy? Time will tell. However, with Facebook's very public acknowledgement that they are systematically reducing organic (better spelled FREE!) reach from a 2012 level of 16 percent, down already to 6 percent and heading to 1-2 percent, the future looks "tougher" on Facebook. Let me put those statistics into plain English for you. In the very near future YOUR Facebook Fans, the ones you worked so hard to get, will see, on average, only 1 or 2 out of every 100 status updates you post on Facebook unless you pay Facebook money, in the form of advertising revenue, to increase that number.

I am hoping that Facebook soon sees that flawed strategy and loosens things up some. Making it tougher for small business owners is not a good idea, in my humble opinion. There are 28 million of them now in the United States with 500,000+ new ones starting every month. 80 percent of those have total receipts less than $50,000/year. That means not a lot of extra cash for Facebook ads.

Some very smart people at Princeton, using some extremely complex math, predict that Facebook will lose 80 percent of its users by the end of 2017. Alright, let's slow down a little. I do not believe that the sky is falling and Facebook will disappear. I just think Twitter is primed to make some serious headway, especially from a business standpoint, and here are 3 reasons why.

Traffic: Twitter crushes Facebook on the ability to generate free traffic. Twitter is my #1 source of traffic and, strictly from a business standpoint, getting traffic is critical to the success of any business. I give the platform traffic I get from Twitter full credit for making my blog one of Social Media Examiner's Top 10 Social Media Blogs.

Conversion: I just held a 3-day Facebook Traffic and Conversion Boot Camp. I spent a bunch of money (over2,000) advertising the Boot Camp on Facebook. I also spent some money advertising on Twitter. Finally, I ran a grass-roots, organic traffic-only campaign on Twitter. Guess which of the three marketing avenues did best? The free Twitter campaign. True story. I know Twitter advertising is relatively new and they still have a few kinks to work out. It is way better than it used to be, and the ability to track traffic and the analytics dashboard are both much better now.

This is only one data point, but it's not just me. Digital marketing superstar Ryan Deiss has done his own testing and come to the same conclusion.

Finally, Twitter continues to improve return on investment for its advertisers by launching a number of new advertising products including TV Conversation Targeting, Tailored Audiences, Conversion Tracking and Promoted Accounts in Timeline.

Functionality: The fact that you can only use 140 characters in any one tweet hardly seems to matter anymore. Twitter has correctly seen the light and knows that visual content is the future. The have increased emphasis on shared images and video and even added a filter to separate those from other content. You can also pin your favorite tweet and see which tweets are more popular by looking at the font size of the tweet.

They seem to be looking very intelligently at what people want and are using and adding to their site the best pieces of several of the other top social media sites. Smart move.

Finally, I am going to beat the horse one more time. Using Twitter Lists and several free or cheap tools I can filter my Twitter feed into bit-sized, digestible pieces and see 100 percent of the content generated by the people I follow, not the 1 percent - 2 percent that Facebook is heading towards.

It will be interesting to see the battle continue to unfold. I will be hedging slightly and committing to both platforms equally for the near future, but I am getting very close to being ready to go 100 percent, all-in on Twitter if things keep heading down the road they appear to be on.

What is your opinion? Am I right? Is Twitter the social media site for the future?