Facebook is much more than a social network. Twitter is much more than an information network or serendipity engine. Each represent a dashboard for your attention, a foundation for conversations and collaboration, and a matrix for your social graph and contextual relationships. In other words, Facebook and Twitter essentially represent the entrée to the future of the social Web as each strive to host, what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and others, refer to as our personal social operating system (OS).
What Windows is to PCs and OS X is to Macs, Facebook and Twitter are to our social architecture and enterprise. Certainly there’s a David and Goliath element here depending on which company you immediately view as Microsoft or Apple. However, Mac and Windows are simply operating systems, not networks per se, and that’s where the metaphor of an OS breaks down. Either way, there is the perception that there is a competition between Facebook and Twitter for your attention and your network.
Why? At the very least, Twitter and Facebook combine the elements of productivity and interactivity, combining a social OS, a global network, and a platform for open development.
The fabric of our online activity stems from a sophisticated social framework that facilitates the exchange of information and sustains professional, conversational, and contextual connections. Facebook and Twitter, like Windows and Mac, allow us to interact cross platform, while hosting dedicated applications that support our engagement, productivity, and communication.
As much attention as we pay to this mythical clash between Facebook and Twitter, the truth is that it’s not unprecedented to maintain identities in more than one ecosystem. For example, I use both Mac and Windows-based systems, I use both Facebook and Twitter. Yet according to new data from Hitwise, it appears that the epic battle between the two perceived leaders in Social Media is one-sided—or perhaps better stated, dominated.
As of October 2009, Facebook accounts for 6 percent of all U.S. Internet visits while Twitter represents only 0.14 percent. In fact, visits to Twitter.com peaked at .20 percent between June and July 2009 and has slowly lost attention in the interim, a point TechCrunch has noted as well. At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco recently, co-founder Evan Williams acknowledged the slowdown in traffic to Twitter.com in the U.S., for now, but he also stated that they are in the process of finalizing new features that will reverse the downward trend. Williams also reminded us Twitter continues to recognize growth in both mobile and abroad.
And, for those who take solace in the hope that traffic is migrating from Twitter.com to mobile clients, there is some truth to the theory. However, new visitors count for everything and Twitter needs to do a better job capturing new users and holding their interests after they register. The company needs to look further than its resident celebrities to attract and sustain traffic.
For the time being, regardless of numbers, Facebook and Twitter serve a purpose, and thus, remain the Mac and PC in the lives of many. And, until the day that I am forced or compelled to pledge allegiance to one or the other, I will continue to cultivate relationships across multiple landscapes and suggest that you do the same.
But which one’s the Mac and which one’s the PC?