4 Ways Twitter Is Beating Facebook

Facebook pioneered much of social media, but has fallen short lately in keeping pace with Twitter. Here's where Twitter got there first.

Kristin Burnham

September 10, 2013

4 Min Read
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10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead

10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead

10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead (click image for larger view)

Facebook is famous for two mottos: "Move fast and break things" and "Done is better than perfect." For the social network, it's always been about speed.

But Facebook has experienced its fair share of controversy in hastily shipping products and changes. Take, for example, its latest update to its policies: Users and privacy watchdogs berated the social network for its changes, prompting Facebook to take a step back before enacting them.

Facebook has traditionally served as a prototype for other social networks and businesses, often launching new features and updates with others following their lead. But this year, more than any other, Facebook has found itself going head-to-head and playing catch-up with popular microblogging site Twitter. Here's where Twitter has Facebook beat.

[ How does Facebook regard your privacy? Read Facebook Says User Data Is Price Of Admission. ]

1. Video Ads

Twitter, which acquired video app Vine last October, officially reintroduced the app in January. Shortly after, brands started using the seven-second looping video feature to advertise in sponsored tweets: Wheat Thins and General Electric were among the first brands to try it.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, recently announced plans to launch video ads within the next year. But rumors have swirled since last December around when video ads were coming to Facebook. Reports first said that the social network would roll them out by "April at the latest." That date was subsequently pushed back to mid-October, with the latest rumors putting video ads on pause indefinitely.

Facebook, which pleasantly surprised investors and analysts in its second-quarter earnings call, reported $1.81 billion in revenue. According to the social network, 88% of its revenue came from advertising, with about 41% ad revenue coming solely from mobile ads. Video ads, when they're launched, will no doubt boost that figure.2. Embedded Content

Twitter first launched embedded tweets in May 2010 as a way for publishers to call out a particular tweet that redirects to the original message on Twitter.com when clicked. In January, the microblog announced an update to embedded tweets that display photos, videos, article summaries and other content shared in a tweet as you'd see it on Twitter.com.

It wasn't until last month that Facebook finally launched the same capability in a move that experts said was long overdue. Its launch included the same features that Twitter added earlier this year, and is still rolling out to users.

For Facebook, embedded posts represent another opportunity for it to increase its visibility in the media, appeal to people who might not use the social network and encourage users to share conversations publicly. Facebook users, however, are more private than Twitter users, which could pose problems in helping this feature take off.

3. Television

Facebook made a push to enter the television world Monday, announcing it launched two new tools to help media companies analyze public Facebook posts and integrate them into online and broadcast content. But the social network has some catching up to do: Twitter pioneered social television, launching a similar capability more than two years ago. Since then, Twitter has dominated the space, with shows often broadcasting tweets in real-time in an effort to make programming more interactive.

Facebook's post length, which is capped at 5,000 characters compared to Twitter's 140 characters, does not lend itself as well to television, but its Keyword Insights API -- which aggregates the number of posts that mention a specific term within a set period of time and can parse by age, gender or location -- could provide valuable insights on current events that networks could incorporate in broadcasts.

4. Trending Topics

Twitter has highlighted the most popular trending topics in real time since 2008, most recently introducing Trends in more than 160 new locations. Just last month, Facebook users reported that the social network was experimenting with its own version of trending topics. The social network confirmed the test, saying the feature was only available to a small percentage of U.S. users and is still in the early stages of development. Facebook's user base, more than 1.15 billion strong, has potential to overtake Twitter's dominance in this space as the new go-to site to see what people are talking about.

About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

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