Facebook makes up 78 percent of traffic among all social network sites and micro-blogging site Twitter accounts for 5 percent, but on average "tweets" with embedded links get 19 clicks while Facebook's shared links only get three clicks, according to a study by SocialTwist.
The marketing firm, which offers viral social media marketing campaigns, analyzed more than a million shared links through its Tell-a-Friend widget that lets people share information on Websites. SocialTwist measured success by a clickthrough rate, a term for the number of clicks on a link that takes a user to a specific destination.
The survey yielded other surprises, such as that MySpace still has 15 percent of social media market share.
If you're using Twitter or Facebook to reach out to customers, here's what each service has going for and against it.
165 million registered users
There are 165 million registered users and 100 million messages sent a day from Twitter, according to Bloomberg. Never mind that Twitter execs hope to get a billion users without a real plan -- that's all bravado anyway -- there are still millions of users out there
New Twitter Layout is Better
The new Twitter interface offers a split-screen and view pane that lets users share video and photos from at least 16 different media providers like Flickr, YouTube, and TwitPic. Now, instead of repeatedly tweeting a message in the hopes of attracting attention from different people at different times, a business can share a video of its new developments and know there's a good chance that someone might see it in Twitter's detailed pane.
It's for the Social-Media Savvy
Twitter, which recently began offering promoted tweets for $100,000 a day, is a different kind of beast than Facebook. If you doubt this, then take a look at who inhabits the "Twitterverse". Just in my followers alone, I count scores of social media professionals. I also watch what they do, because one of the best things about following people is learning how to use Twitter better.
You can use Twitter solely through its Website, or with a third-party client that offers such features as scheduled tweets, searches, paneled views of lists, or other Twitter identities and metrics.
It's a Cocktail Party
A social media maven once told me that Twitter is like a cocktail party. People flitter around, listening to conversations and partaking in ones they find interesting -- but it's off to the next, new thing within minutes. You can't blame users; they have a veritable buffet of information and conversations to follow. Coming back to a cocktail conversation an hour later will get you a lot of "Huh?" and "What?" reactions. That also gets the same response on Twitter.
Although some of the security issues have lessened with the new Twitter revamp, malware can be spread easily when users click on unknown, shortened URLs planted by those looking to spread viruses or download account information.
Twitter's Fail Whale, the icon used to explain its down and over capacity, is well-known and derided endlessly. And while its dependability has been better lately, Twitter still has frequent service outages and hiccups.
600 million users
Facebook is now more popular than Google, not really a surprise when you realize that users can not only update statuses and check on friends, but also play games, take quizzes and generally waste a lot of time.
Although Facebook apologized last month for a 2.5-hour outage, that's nothing compared to the legendary, frequent appearance of Twitter's Fail Whale.
Facebook users have been able to use a number of shared multimedia tools from almost its inception, including video, links, photos, quizzes, and news. Twitter only recently began offering video and photos on its site.
General Audience of All Backgrounds
Facebook's "pro" is also its "con". It has so many people on it -- moms, children, grandparents, millennials, and baby boomers -- that it may be hard for businesses to find the right audience without some expert navigation.
The Clicks Aren't There.
While a business can get noticed on Facebook, chances are it will have do so with a broad campaign connecting with a larger numbers of users than it takes to get the same amount of attention on a more focused medium such as Twitter.
More Like a Dorm Than a Cocktail Party
On Twitter, generally people are only interested in what you're talking about in the last half-hour or so. If we take that to be true, then Facebook is like the floor of a college dormitory or a cruise ship, where users may see each other every day but don't become something akin to friends until weeks or months later. It may be a place to bare your soul, but not the place for a hard sell. This is where your social media efforts must be placed for the long-term.
Which to Use?
It's not surprising that Twitter is the tool of choice for many in marketing because it offers more return on investment, less time for more exposure, a quick-hit approach to conversations, a more savvy population, and few distractions from the endless streams of information.
Any businessperson on Facebook should know that it is competing with the same games, quizzes, and attention from loved ones that brought users there in the first place.
Because the two social sites are so different, businesses should know they will have to evolve with each medium and establish campaigns that fit each of the service's strengths.
Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter: @bhern.