For the past weeks I have been experimenting with Twitter and Facebook. I have checked out the value of statuses (Facebook) and tweets (Twitter) over these two social network tools. For those of you who do not know, Facebook is a social network platform which lets one not only to add friends and content, but also add an actual status. Equal to Twitter, it allows only a limited number of characters and it is often used to express emotions, things you do, or raise questions. I wrote some while ago a post questioning whether Twitter makes sense or not? I have to say I have changed my opinion at a certain extent and now I believe Twitter and statuses can really enhance your social network experience.
Facebook and Twitter both have some great incentives but also some downfalls. Where does the network value lies? For Twitter, in the beginning I wondered why exchanging short 140 character messages is of any good. So I started using the two tools during the last weeks and concentrated on information exchange and sharing. I also subscribed via RSS to the statuses of my friends in Facebook, and was quite surprised about their activities. This leads to 10 reasons why statuses and tweets are a key for social networks:
- Satisfaction It fits perfect to most people’s desire to express their thoughts and to get a response. For example, it is interesting how many people sooner or later start updating their statuses in Facebook. To write short messages is inviting.
- Closeness Statuses let you follow what your network feels, thinks, works or simply wants to know. Different to blogs or entries in forums, it is rather informal and shows moods or curiosity and some times even anger. It is an important channel for people working intensively on the web, and more and more people will eventually do so.
- Collaboration It opens new venues for small collaboration and can still support existing collaboration because it is an asynchronous and synchronous form of communication.
- Openness In Twitterer people invite each other rather easy. Everybody can be addressed; a short conversations can develop and an answer might be there in minutes.
- Sharing You can quickly share links, information or quotes in a quick way. A request is send out by on one click to a whole network and opens a channel for other types of communication to conventional ones such as email etc.
- Change Alexandra Samuel has a nice post about how twitter and statuses can promote collective action for change.
- Connectedness Through statuses you find out a lot about your peers and find overlapping interests. Tweets can connect people and topics which otherwise would not be possible that easily. Distanced friends or colleagues in the next room read your thoughts or know what your work on.
- Network effect Its network effect comes from the overlapping of the connected people. In Twitter a message can be transmitted that way from one network of people to another and can reach their audience quickly and directly.
- **Mobile ** This micro-blogging can be followed from everywhere on the go. It connects you with your social network or group wherever you are.
- Pull not push Other than email, it is up to you, the participant, to read it or leave it. As long as some peers are following and reading, there is always a potential answer or reaction.
To conclude, statuses and instant communication through twitter build a closer social network. It enables real synchronous peer to peer exchange and has decisive network value if it is used for real sharing. It clearly shows how slowly email is being replaced by instant communication (e.g. Skype, Twitter etc.). Together with the mobile phone I think it will be another step to make the web independent from the PC. In my opinion, it can be perfectly used to sustain and stimulate a social network because it is a pull-method. Every user decide when to engage and when not to, but when the network is big enough somebody will respond and the network effects will raise in real time. It is basically another evolution of communication, whether we like it or not. Next post I will highlight the downsides.