Twitter Is Not Facebook (or, Why Status Managers = Fail)

When Twitter started – way, way back in March 2006 – the service was, essentially, built around the same principles behind the very popular status update feature on Facebook.

However, times have changed. While it’s certainly true that Twitter’s insistence on asking you “What are you doing?” definitely encourages too many people to take the question literally and reply with something fairly inane – i.e., like the majority of Facebook statuses – there are some significant differences between the two platforms.

Too often I see people using ‘status manager’ services like HelloTxt to update their statuses across a variety of platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Plurk and so on – and this is, in my opinion, a major mistake. Why? Because of the differences in how updates on Facebook and Twitter read to other users.

On Facebook, your status is essentially your name performing an action. In other words, reading, doing or saying your update.

For example:

Because of the way Facebook displays the status to other users, it does appear as if I’m ‘saying’ or doing my status.

Facebook used to force you to use ‘is’ on your status updates for good reason. While the function was improved considerably when they dropped this, many users have, as a result, started to use it poorly, i.e., their name and then a stand-alone sentence.

Let’s look at the difference on Twitter.

Each Tweet you write is a standalone update. Don’t think of it as a status at all. It’s called micro-blogging for a reason: each Tweet you submit to the Twittersphere is a miniature blog. You can write about whatever you like, but it’s important that the Tweet stands alone by itself. On Twitter, unlike Facebook it is not your name saying, reading or doing the Tweet. Other users will read your Tweet as is, not as if you were performing an action of some kind.

Hence, if my Facebook status update above was the same as my Twitter update, it wouldn’t scan correctly. And vice versa.

(And yes – I had to publically humiliate myself for a few seconds to bring you those images. The things I do for you guys. 🙂 )

So, while it might seem convenient to use a service such as HelloTxt, it’s not only a very lazy decision on your part, it’s inconsiderate to other users, too. Twitter is not Facebook, and Facebook is not Twitter. Whereas the lines between the two might have been fairly blurred a year or two back, they’re miles apart today. By using a status manager, your update on one (or sometimes both) of these platforms will always scan poorly to others.

Ditch the status manager, update each platform separately, by hand – and this includes Plurk too, if you use it, as well as Friendfeed and everything else out there – and your followers will thank you for it. 🙂