Why Facebook May Already Be Killing Twitter

Speculation that Facebook will kill Twitter is as old as Twitter itself. The latest round came from AllFacebook, not exactly an impartial source, who argued recently that Facebook API’s could be used to build a Twitter like service.

Normally I’d be coughing right now, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

Just before Christmas I installed a Twitter application on Facebook that imports all my tweets into Facebook as status messages. I don’t spend much time at all on Facebook, maybe 10 minutes a week, give or take, so I’m not a heavy user. I also don’t tend to interact a lot on Facebook either.

I had no expectations when installing the application, but thought simply that if I’m sharing it on Twitter, why not Facebook. Then something strange happened. I started getting emails that people were replying to my status messages. Not one or two, but lots. Sometimes six or more replies for one status upgrade. Perhaps not that remarkable, because on a good tweet I can get a lot more. But here’s the thing: those tweets nearly all received more responses on Facebook than on Twitter itself.

That I’m seeing this doesn’t make it a trend, but numbers here are important. I have less Friends on Facebook than Twitter, and yet Facebook is more popular overall than Twitter by over 10 times. But the friends I have on Facebook, often more selectively picked than Twitter, are not only on Facebook reading things, they’re actively engaging.

And I’m staggered.

Unlike some I don’t view either as a popularity contest; on Twitter in particular I regularly lose users with particular tweets, and I’ve always approached both as something I share on, not play to win on. But the use case Facebook vs Twitter starts to become compelling: if people are replying to me on Facebook, they might be saying interesting things on Facebook as well that I’m not reading. My time is precious, so should I therefore spend more time on Facebook and less time on Twitter?

Notably Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook said something similar, so I’m know I’m not alone:

I currently receive just as many if not more comment on my Facebook profile than I receive replies to my Twitter status updates.

Food for thought, but ultimately people go where people are. Despite its lack of third party tools, the volume of responses are compelling, and I might just start logging into Facebook once a day at least, and who knows, it might become more regular than that.