Yesterday I began doing some research to determine if there was a shift taking place among top Twitter users and Facebook users given the new Facebook design. I was trying to determine the most effective barometer of user influence across both sites and the only thing I could come up with was a comparison of the top users on each site. After a couple hours I had broken down the top 50 Twitter users and top 50 Facebook public profiles to determine how the two sites stack up against each other.
I’ve embedded a copy of the tables below for your viewing pleasure, followed by a synopsis of a few general conclusions that I’ve come to based on this limited data.
Top Twitter Users
Top Facebook Profiles
What Is This Data A Good Indicator Of?
Honestly this is an extremely limited subset of data from both sites but I think there are some important things to be found from this limited segment. The first thing that can be determined is how large the top Twitter users and Facebook public profiles are relative to their user base. For example, the top Twitter user has over 600,000 users and if we assume Twitter has 10 million global users (8 million in the U.S.), the top user reaches 6 percent of the total user base.
Compare that with Facebook where the top user (Barack Obama) has just under 6 million users which amounts to just over 3.2 percent of the total user base (if we assume Facebook has 185 million users).
Twitter Has Serious Reach Considering Their Size
So the first conclusion is that Twitter has a large reach and their user base is almost twice as active in terms of following the top users. Is the number of people you follow a good indicator of your level of activity? Probably not but I have to make some sort of conclusion here, right? On Twitter, tweets or status updates are the only way to communicate which means that we see much more activity per user.
Compare that with Facebook where activities on other sites, the posting of various forms of media, and the use of applications each create their own feed stories. That means you don’t have to actively update your status on Facebook to be perceived as an active participant. Among brands though, the posting of status updates is the easiest way to reach fans on Facebook and on Twitter.
Twitter And Facebook Are Different Communities
Another takeaway from examining the top Twitter users and public profiles on Facebook is that the communities have different communities. While most Twitter users are on Facebook, most Facebook users are not on Twitter. As such, Facebook’s top public profiles are a better indicator of world wide trends whereas Twitter’s is a better indicator of trends within the Twitter community.
It also appears that the form of communication that users on each site come to expect are completely different. If Facebook users knew that they could communicate directly with Shaquille O’Neal via his Facebook public profile, do you think there would be a bigger following? I do. Right now many of the top celebrities on Facebook have huge followings because there’s a chance for two-way dialogue.
On Facebook, users don’t expect to be able to talk directly with the celebrities and brands. Instead they expect to talk with each other about those brands and individuals. While I’d expect that to change over time, the previous version of fan pages were much more conducive to unidirectional communication.
Facebook Has A Greater Reach Among Twitter Users
As you can tell by looking at the two charts above, having a large number of Twitter followers is a much better indicator that you have a large number of Facebook friends/fans rather than the reverse. With well over 180 million users, Facebook has a much broader reach which explains why the top public profiles are a better indicator of worldwide popularity.
While Twitter currently has a much smaller reach, the site will increasingly become a better barometer of what’s popular in the world. Between Twitter search and the Twitter API, media companies will increasingly turn to the site to get the pulse of global consumers. Facebook is clearly trying to become that center but the battle between the two companies will not be a short one.
I’ve only grazed the surface of analyzing the two companies. Ultimately more through quantitative analysis would be useful for deriving more substantial conclusions. You could argue that due to the substantially different size in the two sites, it’s extremely difficult to conclude anything from the charts above. Alternatively, there may be some additional insight you have.
What do you think the primary differences are between the two companies? Do you think Facebook’s attempt to compete with Twitter will be successful? What other information do you think can be derived from the charts above?