Why fight?!

A recent piece in CNN written by social media site mashable’s founder Peter Cashmore talked about the battle between facebook and twitter. I know titles are meant to be all controversial and stuff, but “How facebook won the web” implies a level of finality that I think is far from reality.

Certainly for now, and for the foreseeable future (which of course in this space is not far past midnight) the two (and Google too) can happily coexist, so I’m going to come over all argumentative on y’all!

1) I wish I knew who said this (and as always when I am in curator mode, rather than creator mode I would give full credit where its due), but facebook is for people you used to know while twitter is for people you want to know. In other words, the functionality of each (facebook requires a direct consensual relationship, twitter is much more passive) provides for fundamentally different end result and benefit

2) That means that each is different. Yes the facebook like button my be more trusted, but its limited to your immediate circle of friends. Thats fine, but twitter is more powerful in that tweet / retweet extends the circle of influence to a broader audience

3) I’m also not sure I fully agree that facebook’s ability to target search results and ads is such a big threat to Google. Again, they do different things. Google is about the active pursuit of information, Facebook is a much more passive platform of recommendation. True I rarely discover new stuff I wasn’t expecting when I use Google, but I don’t think that my network has the answer to every possible search query. i.e. I still need someone to organise the world’s information for me.

Of course at least in the short run, all three platforms will happily co-exist as all do very different things and in very different ways. What excites me is how they can all work together to deliver targeting and experiences that each alone can.

Copyright 2010 Caspar Schlickum

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Categories: Media & Technology

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One Comment on “Why fight?!”

  1. Adam
    May 12, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Fipps. Central to all these debates is obviously how you measure success. In the long run, given the world we live in, success is in one sense a measure of how well these sites can actually monetise themselves.
    At present Google is streets ahead in that department, and while Facebook is catching up fast, the dilemma for social media sites is trying to balance the social elements which give them their broad appeal with more commercially-oriented elements.
    But I guess the point is that both Facebook and Twitter have much richer (and probably more authenticated) data about their users than Google does. Facebook also has a much more readily monetisable platform at the moment than Twitter (although it will be interesting to see how Twitter’s experiments with paid tweets go). That said though, Google has the advantage of being a proper search engine – so in advertising terms can deliver the holy grail of being able to hit someone with targeted advertising at virtual point of purchase point as it were.
    I think for these reasons and the ones you cite Google will be king for a long time to come. But people tend also to forget YouTube in all of this. Supposedly YouTube is now the second most utilised search engine on the web, indicating some dramatic changes already in how people are accessing “information” (broadly defined) online.
    Personally, I think what we’re seeing is each of these platforms finding their own particular niche in terms of functionality, and they all seem in the long-run quite viable. We’ll probably never see the time again when an organisation like Google wields the kind of unilateral online power (I hesitate to use the word monopoly) that it did, but some of these businesses aren’t even ten years old. I know you can’t apply what seem like ancient industrial paradigms to the web, but it’s still an incredibly young market by any standard.

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