Social Networking: Twitter v. Facebook

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 05 2011

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about social networking and how authors can best use it for promotion, and one of the things I have been dwelling on is Twitter v. Facebook and which is really the more powerful when it comes to building a readership because, let’s be honest, that’s our ultimate goal.

As many of you know I’m on both Twitter and Facebook. I Tweet fairly frequently, especially in the wee hours of the morning and, of course, depending on how busy my schedule is. All of my Tweets are connected to Facebook and automatically update my Facebook status. My blog is also connected to Facebook, so each new blog post appears on my profile page. I have about 5,500 Twitter followers and roughly 1,700 Facebook friends. I think it’s pretty obvious where I’m going to create the most buzz.

Beyond the number of followers, though, is the ability to find followers. On Facebook you either have to request friendships or search someone out. In other words, most of the people who will find you on Facebook are already fans. Don’t get me wrong, fans are your most important marketing tool. When you announce on Facebook that a new book is available for pre-order, they are the people ordering and spreading the word to others about how much they love your work. However, it’s unlikely that these fans are going to make that news known to all of their Facebook friends. That’s not typically the way Facebook works. Twitter, however, is all about spreading the word. The infamous retweet is how you find new readers and a new audience, and it’s not just about announcing the release of your new book, it’s about telling your followers that this other person you’re following is incredibly clever, informative, and worth following.

In Twitter people might find your books because they loved your tweets first. In Facebook they are likely to find your books first.

If you ask me, Twitter is the place to be right now, the place where you’re likely to create the most buzz. Facebook is the place you want to be when honing and building those already established relationships. Both are important, but both will do very different things for you.


41 responses to “Social Networking: Twitter v. Facebook”

  1. Avatar liz fenwick says:

    I agree and it's also where I met my agent 🙂

  2. Avatar Victoria says:

    My question about Twitter is… I never see anyone important's tweets, I suppose because of the speed with which they are replaced by someone else's tweets. Jessica, for example… I never see yours except on *Facebook*. I suppose they are already gone off Twitter (I 'follow' six hundred people) by the time I check in. So… if I'm only seeing them on Facebook… ??

  3. I would absolutely agree! In addition to the RTs, participating in Twitter chats always boosts my followers. I also now talk to several published authors (*tamping down inner fangirl*) who happen to do writing sprints with me on #1k1hr on Twitter. My friends on Facebook don't grow as quickly or as steadily (I have over 700 followers on Twitter, but only 400 friends on FB, and a woeful 40 or so on my brand new FB page). While I like having the longer status message ability on FB, I say a lot more on Twitter. And linking them together is very beneficial…don't know what I'd do without that feature. Probably crawl into the corner and weep. 😀

  4. Victoria – I had that problem at first, too, and my advice is to make friends with the List feature on Twitter. If you put people into lists, you can see just the tweets from THOSE people all in one place. You don't even have to follow them if they're on a list.

    Lists. Are. Marvelous!

  5. I'm addicted to Twitter and not to sound like everyone else, but I agree that Twitter is the place to be right now if you're trying to get the word out about something—like a new book or an author event.

    I use Facebook mainly to keep in touch with my out of state friends and relatives.

  6. Avatar Therese says:

    I think the seamless linking of all these is what makes the difference, not one over the other.

    In relation to hand selling a book in retail:
    1. smile and eye contact
    2. present the product
    3. put it in the customers hands.

  7. Twitter definitely presents the possibility for gathering more followers quickly, but I think Facebook still provides some benefits that Twitter doesn't.

    On Facebook you can have a debate/discussion on topics between more than one person. You really can't get that in 140 characters with hundreds of new tweets posted every minute. Your posts are also visible for longer on Facebook, allowing more people to join in before the sea of new updates diverts their attention.

    Facebook gives the option of displaying a picture (e.g. a book cover) as part of the post–no clicking required the way it is with TwitPics.

    And for people new to Twitter, earning a following is as difficult as it is with finding new friends on Facebook. Even when you find the "right" people to follow, they don't always follow back (giving them no chance to read your potentially interesting tweets).

    I'm on Twitter. I like Twitter. But I'm not yet convinced it's as powerful as Facebook. And I just broke my rule about playing devil's advocate on someone else's post . . .

  8. Avatar Oliver says:

    A caveat: the content between your different sites should be as original as possible.

    People on Facebook may not be interested in your Tweets. That's why they are on Facebook. There are crossovers of course, but for certain, people who visit a website or a Facebook page only to see a long Twitter feed (and nothing else) get turned off. In a way it's like spam and feels more impersonal (that you can't be bothered to get on Facebook to talk).

    So just be aware and try to differentiate the content of each source and to change up what is being posted. An example of a way to do this is to use a main website that pulls in a Twitter feed to compliment its long-form posts. Or a Facebook page that pulls posts from the main website and from Twitter to keep things visually and mentally stimulating.

    Finally, Twitter has a quicker viral uptake than Facebook merely because of the stripped down content and the ease of use. Use this knowledge as a way to differentiate the content you post and where to post it.

  9. Avatar Sangu says:

    I agree! Although there are a lot of fun things you can do with Facebook (post videos, trailers, photos and have them in one place, etc), I find Twitter more convenient for my writing life and it definitely generates more buzz. I've used Facebook for years, but I use is as a personal thing to connect with my friends and family and I prefer Twitter as a business tool.

  10. I'm a new tweeter (and joined Twitter for writing connections and information). It's revolutionized my writing world in a way FB never would have. And while I write that, I have no business-building agenda on Twitter (or FB for that matter) so my outlook may be different from what you are speaking of.

  11. Avatar Lise Saffran says:

    My first novel came out in January, and as far as book promotion goes, Twitter rocks! That said, I published an essay recently that was both retweeted and reposted on FB and it was through FB that I was able to read comments and comment back, which was very, very nice.

  12. Avatar Kathy says:

    Thanks for the advice. I do consider myself more of a "Twitter Person."

  13. I agree. Statistically, my website sees more visitors from Twitter than Facebook by a wide margin. Twitter followers are also more likely to respond to writer-related stuff; whereas, my Facebook friends are people I know in real life. They are chemists, students, construction managers, and everything in between, except writers. I have very few writer friends, and thus, very few of my Facebook friends are interested in what's on my site. I thought it would be the opposite, but Twitter is proving to be the best way for me to spread the news right now. Not saying it won't change, but that's how it is as of now.

  14. I came to this blog post from a tweet. 'Nuff said. 🙂

  15. Avatar Victoria says:

    Noelle, I can't get the lists to work now… all it keeps saying is… darn, I just went there to try to quote what it says when I try to add people to a list, and it won't even let me load *anything* right now… it says "Loading seems to be taking a while. Twitter may be over capacity or experiencing a momentary hiccup. Try again or visit Twitter Status for more information."

    Anyway, I was just saying that whenever I try to add people to my list called 'authors' it says something like 'List edit failed, try later' – that's not exactly it, but it is something like that. I spent two hours the other day trying to get it to work, and nothing!

    Frustration level is off the charts, and I would rather spend the time writing. I never have trouble with FB!

  16. Avatar Victoria says:

    There, just tried it again, and it says 'There was an error updating the list', and it won't add anyone. Just like the other day. Sigh.

  17. Couldn't agree more! Which is why I've started targeting my Twitter feed more than Facebook (though I do frequently update FB through Twitter–both my personal and professional pages). In the couple of weeks I've been spending more time at building that Twitter foundation, I've noticed a major (for me) upswing in followers. And, I'm not really spending that much time doing it!

    It has to be a deliberate effort. I've been trying to find ways to increase followers, and I think I've hit on one of them: sending out links helpful to mystery writers (which is my genre of choice.) I even started my own hashtag: #mysteryresource and some of my links have been picked up by bigger Tweeters, so that always makes me excited.

  18. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I've tried and tried to figure out Twitter but I never can find all this wonderful writing info I read about on blogs (for example how would you even find #1k1hr and know about it in enough time to be there to do it? Ah the mystery). Plus, I always feel like i'm in the middle of a conversation (which I am lol).

    To be fair, I haven't found Facebook helpful on the writing front either, but it is a nice way to see what friends out of state are doing.

    Maybe one day I'll figure all this out.

  19. This is likely true. Twitter is better for mass marketing and quickly getting the word out about something. It's about building buzz. Facebook (and I never thought I'd say this!) is better for nurturing those existing relationships. Obviously anyone with a lot of popularity isn't going to interact with each of their fans individually, but Facebook can be used to offer more information, longer updates, debate and discussion, photos, etc.–basically to build up on what you have such a short space on Twitter to say.

    Also, I find it's a little harder for information to be lost on Facebook. If I went to your Facebook page, I'd see the most recent information for longer than I would on Twitter, because Twitter buries things faster, especially because it's so simple to send a vast quantity of messages. Using both in conjunction is probably best. I really like those apps that let you import your tweets into Facebook as well. You get both sites in one.

  20. Avatar Jessica Bell says:

    I don't use Twitter so I actually make an effort to find new people on Facebook. I've actually met some great people through facebook which resulted in me following their blog and getting to know them better. I really think it depends on the person and how they want to utilize the network themself.

  21. Absolutely agree! I use facebook more to interact with people I already know (and who know me) whereas I'm all about finding new people on Twitter. I'm sure I'll use Facebook more for marketing after I get a book deal, but for now it's just for socializing with friends and family.

  22. Twitter's so much faster. I love it. Facebook always seemed like such a time-suck, whereas Twitter is something you can do in between other things.

  23. Avatar Sarah says:

    Damn, I've got to stop being a scaredy-cat and get myself on twitter!

  24. Avatar Livia says:

    Twitter is much more casual — your tweet is more likely to get lost in the rush. The key, I think, is to build up enough dedicated fans so that they will share you stuff on their own facebook networks.

  25. I love Twitter for the conversations, but if you don't visit at the peak hours, your likely to miss interesting conversations and your tweets are likely to get lost in the shuffle.

    I've been tweeting for three years, and I suggest that new Twitter users focus on following interesting people rather than the big names with hundreds or even thousands of followers. I've also noticed that if you're new on Twitter you're likely to gain followers more quickly–and have the longtime Twitter users follow you back–if you have a blog or website. A web presence makes you feel less like a "talking head."

    Facebook feels like a community, where the author can write status updates about their life, their latest books, their writing, etc, and ask and answers questions. I've noticed a number of big name authors in the romance genre using their FB page exclusively, most likely for these reasons.

    On that note, I wish all authors set up pages on FB. Not only does "liking" feel less intrusive than "friendship" with strangers (and is likely the reason FB friends lag behind Twitter followers), but it bugs me when authors use their FB account for their personal and professional lives. I'm not interested in personal photos, personal friend/family comments, politics, and whatnot–I'm here for the books.

  26. Avatar Shelly says:

    I tend to follow people on both services if I really like them and they are on both. I also read pretty much every post on Facebook, but I only occasionally read Tweets because I follow lots more people there and there's just too much to keep up with. Plus, I'm always on FB and it's easier to comment and see a conversation develop. Sometimes, it's hard to know what those figures mean. Do you really have more followers or as many as you think on one, or are there a lot of duplicates. And how much are they really reading or interacting with on each service.

  27. I'm gonna have to learn how to do that. It seems so full of junk, I am intimidated. But, my grand daughter received an iPod in the mail and then realized it was from a twitter contest and all she did was retweet. Gosh, I wish I knew what that was. There is some website in Russia that loves my blog for some reason so Twitter might be fun.

  28. Great post! I haven't heard a Twitter/Facebook comparison framed this way, but it makes complete sense. Since joining Twitter a few months ago, I've been amazed at how quickly my network has broadened.

  29. Avatar ryan field says:

    I like both twitter and facebook for different reasons. And hashtags on twitter really do work.

    There's also a new social network called quora, that I've been finding interesting.

    But you really do have to be authentic and love social networking…it's like finding the right balance.

  30. Avatar Rebecca Kiel says:

    This is interesting. I've never heard it put that way. It makes sense to me. There is something about Twitter that sounds distracting for me, as though it would take up too much time. But since this is about building a career, and not just writing a book, I will go now and educate myself on Twitter. Thanks.

  31. Avatar donnanewton says:

    I wrote a post on this very subject a few weeks back and I had Facebook and Twitter at a level pegging. I have two FB pages; one a private one and the other is my fan page. I enjoy both for the same reason as I enjoy twitter – I like to talk 😀

    Twitter, however, has the drawback of only being able to use just over 100 characters….but, I also find this a blessing. It makes you think of how to tighten your writing.

    I marked them both as 8/10.

  32. Avatar ryan field says:

    I wanted to add for anyone interested that I receive the most views on my blog from I honestly have no idea how I managed to link my blog up to goodreads, but it's there and I get tons of hits from it.

  33. Avatar Alyssa Udall says:

    I agree with your conclusions, Jessica. I have been doing social media marketing for my book review and writing blog, my handmade jewelry business, and either other companies for about 4 years now. One of the biggest mistakes that I find in people of many industries is that they try to treat every social media network, be it Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, etc, as one and the same. This leads to annoying, spam-like posts and ineffective marketing.

  34. Avatar girlseeksplace says:

    I try to give Twitter and Facebook equal face time, but it's hard. I struggle to connect with people on Twitter. I follow 68 people, but only 38 of those people follow back.

  35. Avatar CeeCee says:

    It seems to be more of a challenge to gather followers on Twitter than it does on Facebook in my experience though. I wish I knew the secret to ramping up those number so that my posts were seen by more. Networking is not valuable if you have a limited scope

  36. Avatar Frank Zubek says:

    ANY networking is better than none at all. People cannot buy your work if they aren't (at least) aware it's out there!

  37. I've been using both sides of the FB/Twitter coin for different reasons. Creating buzz and making new connections have worked really well on Twitter. Facebook's been much more helpful to me in terms of event planning, inviting people to my readings and other events.

  38. Avatar Collectonian says:

    Evangeline makes a great point about authors needing to have actual Facebook pages, not just use their personal account. There is something about seeing someone using their personal account for advertising/network on their business stuff that just comes across as amateurish and unprofessional. I mean seriously, no one interested in my novels likely wants to see all my FB game posts 😛 And I don't want random "fans" seeing pictures of my family, or reading my rants about work, et al.

    If you are going to do social networking, it pays to learn the basics of how it works. Personal account is just that, your own personal account. Set up a page for your business/professional persona. It isn't terribly hard, though FB could certainly make it easier to find the starting point.

    Another key benefit of using a page over a personal account is access to certain features that are only available to pages – such as a more business/organization oriented profile, discussion posts, custom tabs, etc. You can also advert your page through FB 🙂

    As for the Twitter v Facebook debate, for me its easy. Facebook all the way, because I don't Twitter, don't follow "tweets" except what comes over on people's Facebook feeds, and have no desire to ever start using it. Just never really got the appeal or value in it for myself.

    ~~ Collectonian (OpenID is not working)

  39. Avatar BobetteBryan says:

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    I need to learn my way around Twitter. It's something that I've never gotten the hang of and really don't care much for, but I realize that it has promotional value.

    I agree with those who say that Facebook won't cut it.

  40. Thank you for this post! I have felt for some time that Twitter was the better place to put my focus. Glad to have that validated.

    I agree with Noelle. Lists are an essential Twitter tool.

  41. Avatar Geoff Nelder says:

    I twitter but rarely have the time to read the other twittered posts whereas the graphics on fb catch my eye. Also the groups on fb enable me to inform and be excited over upcoming events. So it's fb mostly for me.
    I wish I knew how to link my blog to goodreads – another site I am on but have little time to be involved.
    Sold more books, I reckon, via fb than twitter or goodreads. So far.

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