Social platform integration – Which platform is right for you?

Although I’m a fan of integrating as many social platforms as possible in external sites and application, it’s clear that marketers are sometimes forced to focus their efforts and budgets on one platform or the other.

Having a clear strategy and goals in place can help make smart choices. For example, if you are planning on integrating social authentication in your site or app you will probably want to consider a wide range of authentication providers, including Google and Yahoo, but if your focus is on sharing user activities and driving traffic, you are probably debating whether you want to integrate Facebook, Twitter or both. In this post, I’ll try to focus on driving traffic to external websites and applications and compare between the two platforms.

Facebook has 600+ million users, compared to 180 million Twitter users. But is user reach the critical factor in deciding which platform you should integrate more tightly? it really depends.
A young startup that is trying to maximize traction and word-of-mouth, targeting tech-savvy early adopters with minimal costs, might consider Twitter as your top option, while a mature brand, which targets teens, will probably consider Facebook as a top priority.

The fact that there are so many Facebook users out there is not always positive. With Facebook you get a larger audience that includes consumers that might not be in your target segments. This requires potentially leveraging targeting technologies to reach the right audience and you might need to put in more effort in outreach to drive clicks.
On the other hand, Twitter conversations have gaping holes in the middle, often leaving Twitter users hanging with just bits and pieces, and leaving them with quite a bit of questions. This could potentially be a con for the brand conversation you are trying to develop on Twitter. Also, Twitter have had a history of security breaches and uptime issues that are just trouble for services that integrate with them.

A recent study done by SocialTwist, in which they analyzed more than one million links on both platforms, indicates that Facebook’s shared links average only 3 clicks, while Twitter’s embedded tweets generate 19. There might be a few good explanation for that:

  • The relatively new Twitter interface that includes the split screen and view pane design is good for marketing. Businesses can effectively share updated videos on their Twitter profiles, instead of just repeatedly tweeting messages, and users are potentially better exposed to those messages.
  • Twitter’s audience is more tech-savvy. with third-party applications through and features such as scheduled tweets and searches and with only 140 characters, a lot of tweets leave readers waiting for more. This factors into a desire to click on more links and drives click-through rates per items posted higher.
  • Twitter requires less time for actionable exposure and reaches a more specific audience and consumer base. The amount of distraction on Twitter is also far less than the amount of distraction on Facebook
  • For B2B marketers, Linkedin might offer an interesting opportunity as well. Back in April 2010, the business-oriented social network gave users the ability to follow companies in addition to following users. Even before that, Linkedin added newsfeed activities, such as “like” and “comment”, very similarly to Facebook’s newsfeed, and enabled users to integrate their Twitter accounts into their LinkedIn feed.
    My overall feeling (unfortunately, I don’t have any data to back this, it’s just a hunch) is that all those features have substantially increased user engagement on the platform. LinkedIn, like the other platform has API in place that enables sharing links, and as professionals spend more time engaging with LinkedIn, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the platform can deliver good results in driving interest for business products.

    To summarize, choosing Facebook because everybody else does it is not always the right answer. One best practice would be to have a clear understanding of your target audience and use publicly available data to figure out in which platform your core audience spends more time in, helping you deliver more bang for the buck.

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