Facebook Competes With Twitter to Become the Online Conversation Platform

Yesterday the Facebook and CNN partnership broke online records with over 1.5 million status updates posted through the CNN site and over 21.3 million video streams according to the New York Times. It was an impressive showing and it provided a taste of what is to come in the future of interactive television.

One site that didn’t receive as much buzz as normal was Twitter which saw a 500 percent increase in the rate of “tweets” per second according to according to Caroline McCarthy. It was surprising that less was mentioned about Twitter this time around, although I did happen to see promotions for news anchor Twitter accounts on CNN during the inauguration.

What both Facebook and Twitter appear to be jockeying for is to become the leading “live conversation platform”. Twitter no doubt provides an extremely effective platform for live conversation and with robust APIs, it makes it even easier to integrate Twitter into one’s site. Facebook Connect has proven to be effective in this latest implementation though and with a much larger user base, it would easily beat Twitter when competing to provide the backbone for any live conversation tool on the web.

If Facebook’s massive user base isn’t enough of an incentive for choosing them over Twitter, the site’s massive image of the social graph should be. Experiencing history in real-time with all of your friends is a much more powerful proposition than simply viewing “tweets” from al the interesting people you follow on Twitter. Conversely, one could argue that if you are truly following “interesting” people on Twitter, their live updates could be much more interesting than your Facebook friends.

Whichever tool you prefer there is no doubt that the two companies are competing to become the future online conversation platform. As CNN’s implementation of Facebook Connect proved, it’s much more effective to implement integration with an existing community than to build your own community when offering a platform for real-time conversation.

I’m sure that open identity evangelists would say that users should be able to login no matter what platform they have a preference for. When Facebook has over 150 million users though (and soon to be over 160 million) it’s hard to argue that the Facebook brand doesn’t add more credibility to anybody who decided to integrate with it. Do you think Facebook will win the race to become the de-facto live conversation platform on the web?

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