Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pushing My Twits to Facebook Considered Harmful

Like many Twitter users, I always had a Facebook application setup to pull my twits and post them on Facebook as status updates. Thanks to this application, all my twits where making their way to Facebook, showing up in my friends' news feed. A couple of weeks ago, it became clear to me that there was a problem with pushing twits to my Facebook friends. So I stopped.

Why? Simply, because the little pieces of information I publish on Twitter are interesting to me, but let's be realistic: what is interesting to me is just that; interesting to me; most likely it isn't interesting to most people in general, and to my Facebook friends in particular. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is something pretentious of me forcing this information on my Facebook friends. Yes, I know, you can opt-out and "hide" some of your friends on Facebook, so their updates don't pollute your news feed. But many don't know about this feature or are reluctant to take this measure. I would rather see people opt-in, as they do on Twitter by voluntarily "following" someone, than force people to opt-out.

(Note that the title of this post is Pushing My Twits to Facebook Considered Harmful. Even if you are pushing your twits to Facebook, what I say here may not apply to you. But if this is something you are doing, you might want to ask yourself: "are my friends going to be interested in my twits?".)

5 comments:

Olivier Bruchez said...

Twitter and Facebook have different audiences, obviously, but the problem is the same. Are your "friends" going to be interested in your Facebook status? Are your "followers" going to be interested in your twit?

I must say I'm quite intrigued by the fact that "the little pieces of information [you] publish on Twitter are interesting to [you]". To you only? Aren't you supposed to be interesting to your followers? :-)

Alessandro Vernet said...

Olivier,

Interesting comment. Let me try to clarify.

The Twitter and Facebook audience are not just different like, say, people interested in gardening are different from those interested in hiking. People are connected to you on Facebook because they have a relationship with you, very loosely called "friendship". On Twitter people follow you because they somehow find what you have to say interesting. It is a self-selected group of people.

If you write about things that are interesting to you, your friends might not find it interesting. But you don't have to worry about your followers: they will find it interesting, otherwise they wouldn't be your followers (or will stop following you; problem solved). Your Facebook friends don't have as much of a choice.

So unless you know that most of what you write will be interesting to your friends, pushing all those updates to your friends feels a bit disrespectful to me.

Olivier Bruchez said...

> On Twitter people follow you because they somehow find what you have to say interesting.

That's the theory. In practice, though, I think most of my followers are users that want me to follow them back (because they found a relevant keyword in one of my twits, for example). They don't really read what I write. And if I remove these users, what is left? Basically people I could be friend with on Facebook! (And, guess what, most of them are actually my friends on Facebook.)

I'm aware that this not the case for everybody. High-profile users really need asymmetric relationships.

> So unless you know that most of what you write will be interesting to your friends, pushing all those updates to your friends feels a bit disrespectful to me.

But who are your friends on Facebook? Real friends, family members, colleagues, people you haven't met since high school or even longer, etc. Can a single status update be interesting to all these people? I don't think so. Are you saying we shouldn't post Facebook updates at all?

I guess that, after more than 1000 twits, I'm still not convinced by Twitter (and the "real-time" concept in general, I guess). I use it mainly to make my updates public and to be able to back them up. I even use Google Reader to read the twits I don't want to miss... :-)

Olivier Bruchez said...

And I just realized you can post a Facebook update to one of your "lists of friends" only, if you want. It's something that could be useful. Maybe.

Alessandro Vernet said...

Olivier,

As usual, it is hard to draw a general conclusions about how people use Facebook and Twitter. Like you say: it depends who your followers are. If it mostly people from the same group who follow you on both social networks, cross-posting makes perfect sense.

As far as I am concerned, I see a significant difference between the Twitter and Facebook crowd. It turns out I don't know personally most of the people who follow me on Twitter, and most of those I know are people working in technology. The folks on Facebook are quite different: they are mostly friends, or friends of friends; the kind of people who are not so interested in reading about that cool time-saver keyboard shortcut for OS X I just learnt about ;).

There is also a starch difference when it comes to gender: active Twitter users I follow are almost men, while the active Facebook users amongst my friends are predominately women. Could it just be a coincidence?

Alex