Twitter or Facebook – which wins for you?

Twitter vs FacebookWay back in 2010, I asked which you would rather have: Twitter or Facebook. There was quite a mix of responses at the time, and I was clearly in favour of Twitter.

I’ve changed my mind since then, though, and now spend much more time on Facebook than Twitter.

Why? Well, here are some of the reasons I like Facebook:

  • Pages: I think having a place where you can showcase your product, business, website, or community through a page is really useful. I wasn’t making use of pages when I asked the previous question, and this might be a big part of my change of heart.
  • Timeline: Yes, I know many people dislike it, but I think the timeline is great. It lays out what you (or your friends) have been doing in a nice way – and those cover images can be put to great use with a bit of imagination.
  • Photos: There’s something about being able to see photos right there in your news feed that works better for me than clicking a link. Laziness? Convenience? You decide.
  • Community: This is the big one for me – and I recognise that this may be why Facebook works best for me, but not for other people. More of the people I know in real life are on Facebook than on Twitter. So, if I want to find out what an old school friend is up to, Facebook is the place to go. If I want to see the latest product from another friend’s home business, Facebook again. If I want to share with people who I will meet at the school gate, or in the town… well, you get the point.

There is one thing I don’t think Facebook is as good for, however, and that’s interacting with large brands. Sure, O2 have a page, as do Honda, but I always have better luck getting a response from large companies such as these on Twitter than on Facebook. Not sure why that is… but them’s the facts.

What do you think? If you could only have one out of Facebook and Twitter, which would it be? I’m curious to know if the balance has shifted one way or the other since the last time I asked. Let us know your thoughts in the comments – including your reasons if you feel like sharing.

Thanks.

Showcase your projects with Wickes Facebook app

Wickes project screenshotIf you’re wondering why the frequency of posts has been a bit erratic lately, it’s partly because we have just moved house. There’s always so much to do in a move, plus there’s the inevitable wait for the Internet connection to be set up.

I’m lucky to have a friend who is very handy at DIY; as well as him doing so many things I am clueless about, I get to learn some hints and tips at the same time. If you think you have some tips to share, or want to show off your ninja DIY abilities, Wickes now have a Facebook app to let you do just that.

The idea is simple – upload photos, enter a brief description of what’s going on, and you can publish your own DIY project guide to your Timeline. It’s not just about DIY dunces showing off their new-found abilities, though; builders, decorators, interior designers, and so on can use the app to create an e-portfolio of projects so that potential customers can have a look at their previous work online.

It’s a clever idea – and there’s a certain voyeuristic pleasure in taking a look at some of the projects other people have undertaken! To try it yourself, visit Wickes Facebook page and click on “My Project”.

And now… Facebook buys Instagram

Instagram logoFollowing on from Monday’s post about Instagram coming out on Android, there’s more news about the photo sharing service: Facebook has bought it for $1bn (around £630m).

Facebook is already a huge photo sharing site, with around 6 billion photos being uploaded per month, but the acquisition of Instagram adds in those hipster processing effects that seem to be so popular in iPhone (and now Android) photography. It also neatly takes care of a possible rival in the social network field, as Instagram allows you to share your photos online as well as just snapping them.

So, did Facebook opt to buy a nice new technology to compliment their existing photo sharing offerings, or did they choose to buy out and own an up and coming rival social network? To be honest, few people really know that and I don’t think they’re about to tell us! What Mark Zuckerberg does say, though, is that Facebook is committed to developing Instagram as an independent brand, and that the ability to connect to networks outside of Facebook is part of what makes the service so attractive.

It remains to be seen how this deal will affect Instagram’s reputation and user base. I can’t help but feel it will only increase the number of people using Instagram, although there will be some churn as users who distrust the Facebook giant walk away from the service. What do you think about the deal? Are you suspicious of what the motivation behind it could be? Is it just Facebook adding to its technology portfolio? I’d love to read your comments – so post ‘em below.

Facebook Pages get an update

Facebook Pages are undergoing a bit of an update at the moment that aims to make them even more useful for users. The updates were prematurely launched in December, and then quickly taken down again, but that mistake did give us an insight into what was coming. Tabs are gone, and there is now a built-in option to export page updates to Twitter.

On the whole, the pages look a little more like normal user profiles now, but there’s one new feature I think is going to stand out among all the others.

Use Facebook as Page

I think the most useful feature for page admins is to use Facebook as the page rather than as yourself. Just select “Use Facebook as page” from the account menu and you will be given the opportunity to change your identity to that of any of the pages you have admin rights to.

You won’t be able to comment on users’ walls or posts, but you can interact with other pages. This is handy if, say, you have a page for your company and want to show that you “like” one of your suppliers or customers, or if you want to comment on a page in your company’s name. It will open up new opportunities for business-to-business networking and may give a slightly more professional appearance than having to comment on pages using your own name. Mind you, there’s something to be said for presenting the human face of your business isn’t there?

I like the idea of interacting under my page (Geek-Speak)’s name, but what do you think? Is it better to do this, or interact as yourself?  What do you think of the updates as a whole? Will it make any difference to you as a user? Or if you’re an admin, can you see the update improving how you use Facebook? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

The Battle for Web Dominance – Who will Win?

This is a guest post by Neil Jones who is head of marketing for eMobileScan, one of the UK’s leading Barcode Reader specialists.

The search engine wars, where engines fought for domination over their rivals, were only the warm up act for what is likely to take place this year. The undisputed champions of Search and social are inevitably going to lock horns sometime soon.

The ever increasing need to grow, expand and dominate is what is forcing these to internet behemoths to collide and if you haven’t already guessed, it’s Facebook and Google. Both reign supreme in their respective sectors but both want domination and whoever wins it is going to mean a big shift in how we interact with the web.

Let’s take Google first; A couple of years ago their position of power was unquestioned and barring the occasional uprising from either Yahoo or Bing, and then a combination of the two, Google had everything thing their own way. Google are great at a lot of what they do; their search results are usually pretty good, their email is great and Google maps are all an excellent addition to the internet. What they have not been good at is social media, but it’s not from a lack of trying. Wave and Buzz are all failed attempts to move into the social space. I’d say it’s safe to suggest that Google have failed in their attempts to move into social media.

And now for Facebook; The stats about Facebook are jaw dropping and it’s fair to say that they really have dominated in the social sphere. For instance Facebook is now the largest photo sharing site on the net. Before researching I had assumed Flickr was the dominant force here, but seemingly not and there are plenty of other similar examples in the social space where Facebook has crushed the competition.

The one thing that Facebook hasn’t tried yet is to move into the search engine space, but it’s only a matter of time. I believe that they are drawing the battle lines and here is how they are doing it. Going head to head with Google in the search engines would be a crazy so instead they plan to use social connections made by their members to connect the web, interlinking pages and sites with Facebook as the hub.

By building a set of buttons, widgets and plugins they are essentially letting their members spider the internet for them.  The first goal is to get as many sites as possible to add their set of buttons and the second is to get their members to share the links and click the “likes” button on these sites.

Presently, Facebook members share in excess of 1 million links in just 20 minutes. In that same timeframe nearly 8 million “likes” are generated, and on average 10k sites a day are adding Facebook’s widgets.

Facebook’s whole plan is based around building a semantic web and with those figures I think they are making a pretty decent start.

The first Sideswipes

Both companies have been trying to undermine each other’s power. The first blow came when Google tried to invest in Facebook only to miss out to Microsoft (Google’s oldest enemy). Facebook countered by continually trying to poach some of Google top execs. Google bought a considerable stake in Zynga who develop social games on the Facebook API and are one of the biggest spenders on the Facebook ad network. Google have also been buying stakes in some of the other companies that have risen to prominence through Facebook. Facebook, on the other hand, announced the launch of the Fcommerce platform where webshops can be launched directly on Facebook. Both sides are continually adjusting and adding new features but who will make the first real assault is still a little unclear.

It’s safe to say that there is no love lost between these two and I don’t think it will be long before we start to see the first real all-out assault on each other’s territory.

What do you think? Are Google and Facebook gearing up for an almighty web-war? Is there space for them both on the Internet, or are they intrinsically destined to fight for the same user base? We’d love to know your thoughts, so please tell us in the comments.

Facebook unveils new messaging system

Kevin Tea, over at Web 2 And More asked this question yesterday: Is Facebook about to launch a “gmail killer” today? Well, the Facebook announcement came, and the answer is… “sort of… maybe… maybe not”.

Facebook didn’t just come out with a new e-mail service, but a whole system of messaging that incorporates e-mail, instant messaging, chat, and SMS. Mark Zuckerberg was clear that this is not a “Gmail killer”, or indeed an “e-mail killer”. Rather it incorporates e-mail into the whole system. I don’t know, though – I’d bet it crossed his mind at least once that giving 500 million users the option of a facebook.com e-mail address might cut into Gmail’s market share a little!

Using a facebook.com e-mail address won’t be compulsory – apparently Project Titan, as the new system was codenamed, will route messages to you however you choose to connect. If you do want to use a facebook.com address, though, you’ll want to set up a human-readable username by visiting http://www.facebook.com/username/. If you have any pages, and if they have enough fans, you’ll be able to set up usernames for those too.

The new messaging system will be rolled out over the next few months, with users being invited to try it out at a more controlled rate than everyone jumping in at the same time. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes communication through Facebook, and whether it will change communication on a wider scale too. Watch this space…

Why Facebook Places Will Succeed… and Why I Won’t Be Using It

I’m a bit of a sucker for new toys – and with the UK launch of Facebook Places last week I just had to try it out. I’m already on Foursquare, so I get the whole checking in thing, but what does Facebook Places have to offer that the other services don’t?

In short, Facebook Places offers a massive user base. Foursquare has nearly three million users, while Facebook reports over five hundred million. Foursquare is good, but Facebook Places has just put location check-ins in front of a whole load more people… including your mostly technophobic Aunt May (you know, the one with the moustache).

Aunt May will make Places a success

OK, maybe not Aunt May specifically, but the sheer number of people Places is available to, including people who would never normally think of location services, gives it a huge lead over other services. All those people who keep telling you in their status that they’ve popped out to ASDA for some shopping can now use a dedicated interface to do the same thing, assuming they’ve got a suitably equipped mobile phone.

I guess this is a bit like the Ping social network that Apple recently launched. The sheer number of iTunes users will, I’m sure, make Ping a success, and the sheer number of Facebook users will make Places a success.

So, why won’t I be using it?

Honestly, it’s just this: I can’t be bothered. I’m already seriously waning in my love of Foursquare and, while it’s been fun to collect mayorships, I can’t see the point in broadcasting my location any longer. Facebook Places lacks the mayorship element at the moment, so it’s just about telling people where you are… and I’ve never done that on Facebook before. So why would I start now?

I understand the social element of tagging the people who are there with you but I figure they already know they’re there with me, so do I need to tell them via Facebook?

I’m fully aware I’m coming across as a grumpy old man, but I think I really have had my time with location check-ins… except for trying to score that free pizza for being mayor of Domino’s obviously.

What’s your experience with Facebook Places, Foursquare, or any of the other check-in services? Are you finding them useful? Fun? Or are they a bit pointless? I’d love to know your thoughts – feel free to share them in the comments.

Halifax suggests your perfect holiday via Facebook [Paid Post]

This is a paid post – what does that mean?

Ah, summer. Apparently it’s here – although if the weather is any indication it seems to turn up for brief periods before heading off on its own holiday and leaving Mr Rain to feed the cat while it’s away.

Mario's holiday destinationIn celebration of summer, Halifax have released a Facebook application that will analyse your profile and Facebook usage to suggest a holiday destination. On top of that it will also suggest where you should stay at the destination, what you should do, and what you should eat… all based on what the app thinks it knows about you from your Facebook data.

When I tried the app it told me I wasn’t sharing a lot on Facebook (that’s true) so my recommended destination was a desert island. I have to admit, that does sound quite nice. To get the result from a more frequent Facebook user, I asked my wife to try it out… apparently she’ll be with me on the desert island. It does make me wonder how much information you need to be sharing to get a different result, or perhaps if there’s specific information (like interests and hobbies) that has an impact and we just aren’t sharing that.

OK, here’s some of the marketing information that might explain why Halifax created their app:

The Holiday Match Maker from Halifax. It’s one of those rare things, a Facebook application that is genuinely useful and entertaining at the same time. It’s also pretty clever. By analysing the content of your profile, it will ’calculate’ what your ideal holiday destination is, where you should stay, what you should do, what the weather’s like at the moment and how many plastic Eiffel Towers you can buy for a fiver. Now it doesn’t get much more useful than that. Oh, and it will also point you in the direction of Halifax Travel Money, something you might find handy when going on holiday.

Did you catch it? OK, yes, it’s fun and will help place Halifax in your mind when you think about holidays but it will also point you in the direction of Halifax Travel Money, where you can buy the currency you’ll need on your break (of course, I’ll be paying for everything with coconuts). So there’s a dual purpose here – to increase brand awareness though a fun application, and to drive business to Halifax’s foreign currency outfit. Sneaky? Not at all – that’s what advertising and promotions are all about, it’s just that you might actually find it fun this time.

The Halifax holiday matchmaker can be installed by clicking here (Facebook app link).

Disclosure: I will receive financial payment for posting this article. Please be aware that I will never accept offers of paid posts where I am required only to give a positive review – objectivity is important to me and you can be sure that what I write, even in paid posts, is what I really think.

Internet statistics to blow your mind

I’m a bit of an internet statistics junkie – I actually enjoy checking the visitor stats for this site. When I send out an e-mail newsletter it interests me to see how many where opened and what content people found the most useful.

Mashable posted a great video on Friday that outlines some statistics on Internet use, and I wanted to share that with you here:

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from Jesse Thomas on Vimeo.

There are some amazing numbers there: 81% of all e-mail is spam!? Thank goodness for spam filters. I was (for some reason) surprised to see that there are more Internet users in Europe than the US. I don’t know why, but I often think of the US as being the market to crack… but perhaps I’ve been ignoring European users. Of course, then there are the massive numbers in Asia to be considered too!

The huge amount of traffic Facebook receives is just mind blowing, although I can see why that would be the case given the social networking, applications and games offered there. That massive user base is one of the reasons Geek-Speak has a Facebook page too – you have to go where the people are if you want them to hear about you!

I’m also a bit surprised that just over half of all web pages are blogs, according to the video! If ever there was an indication of the massive take-up of blogging, that’s it. Sure, I guess a lot of those are failed or failing blogs (ones that the owner hasn’t written on for a long period of time) but it certainly shows there’s an interest in people setting up their own piece of blogging real-estate.

What went through your mind when you watched the video? Did anything surprise you? Is there anything you’d dispute? I’ve love to know what you think, so please leave a comment!

Twitter vs Facebook, which would you have?

Let’s try something new today, a quick and easy question for you. If you had to choose between Facebook or Twitter, which would you have?

Would you miss the ease of tweeting? The games and applications of Facebook? Is there a killer feature of one of this pair that you just couldn’t live without?

Tell us in the comments! And ask as many of your friends to chip in with their opinion too (if you’re on Twitter you can use the re-tweet button below). I’d be really interested to see which one, Twitter or Facebook, comes out top.