Rob Swystun, Pristine Advisers
What the best social media platform is for businesses has been an ongoing debate since social media became a thing.
But it seems that a king is starting to emerge, as Adam Wexler, writing for the Huffington Post, has gone ahead and predicted that a full 100% of Fortune 500 companies will be on Twitter within the next few years, thus cementing its status as king of social media.
Wexler sites a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth study that says 77% of Fortune 500 companies currently have active Twitter accounts compared with 70% for Facebook (despite Twitter’s active user base being approximately one-sixth the size of Facebook’s user base).
And consider the following:
Over the last four years, Twitter has seen 16% growth, maintaining a 4-7% edge over Facebook each year. Also over the last four years, Fortune 500 companies have joined Twitter faster than Facebook. Fortune 500 companies like Altria Group, Exelon, NextEra and Visteon have all adopted Twitter, but not Facebook.
Plus, companies from all industries are joining Twitter, with at least one company from each industry category in the Fortune 500 using Twitter, which is not true for Facebook or any other social media tool.
While Fortune 500 companies were early adopters of Facebook, Hewlett Packard eschewed that site and jumped straight onto Twitter when it joined the realm of social media.
But why are the big dogs going with the bird?
Nora Barnes, Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, says companies are drawn to Twitter because it is “cleaner, faster and smoother.”
Del Ross, VP of Americas Sales & Marketing for Intercontinental Hotel Group, leans toward the simplicity factor. Twitter only requires a user to “master 140 characters — it’s an incredibly low barrier.” Facebook is much more complicated by comparison. (Facebook also implements sweeping changes once in a while, meaning you have to relearn everything.)
But Twitter has also attracted the people who businesses want to get in touch with.
“One of Twitter’s biggest achievements is its adoption by the media,” MRY CMO David Berkowitz says. “Every Fortune 500 invests in investor relations, so even if it’s just a place to conveniently link to their press updates, earnings reports and issue official statements, it makes sense. And better for them to have an official channel than not, if for no other reason than to play defense.”
Personally, I go with the frivolity theory. While Twitter can be and certainly is used in a frivolous manner by a lot of people, there are also a lot of companies and business people who use it in a serious manner by sending out tweets that are basically just a variation of “Click this link” over and over. And that’s perfectly acceptable. It works as a place to quickly get information from places where you’re interested in getting information from. It acts more as a gateway to content than a place to host content.
Facebook on the other hand, is really seen as a place where people go to just hang out and waste some time. This doesn’t really sound appealing to the largely serious-minded Fortune 500 crowd.
However, Facebook is the better option for some companies. I manage a blog for a baking supply store in LA. The blog is “written” by their cartoon mascot; a Mexican baker. (Hey, sitting around in pajamas pretending to be a Mexican baker online is probably more fun than what you did at work this morning.) And while the company has Twitter followers, its Facebook page gets tons more interaction. This is because things like photos and class schedules can be posted on its page and people can “hang out” and comment on them etc. For a small, privately owned company that runs informal contests and encourages people to share photos of their baking creations, clearly Facebook is the better choice for social media.
But Twitter can also be used as a proactive tool for brands to reach out to customers and turn them into a marketing cliche (read: brand ambassador). Not every tweet has to contain a link and a plea to click it. Individual tweets to customers go a long way. And get them to retweet your stuff and you’ve got yourself a spokesperson.
What do you think? Does the potential of being home to 100% of Fortune 500 companies’ social media efforts anoint Twitter as the king of social media?