Should You Focus on Facebook or Twitter?

A new study suggests Facebook engages fans better than Twitter, if the biggest brands on the Internet are any guide.
Business Writers
March 27, 2012

A new poll of small-business owners found that entrepreneurs ranked their time as their business's most valuable asset (yes, even ahead of their computers).

So with time scarce, and with business owners performing multiple roles, something has to give. Should it be Facebook or Twitter? (Sproutsocial, a startup that builds social media management tools for small businesses, suggests as a rule of thumb that Facebook is better for business-to-consumer marketing, while Twitter trumps for business-to-business.)

A new study suggests Facebook engages fans better than Twitter, at least if the biggest brands on the Internet are any guide.

Social media analytics company SocialBakers compared top brands' Facebook and Twitter presences over a month-long period. It concluded that brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Playstation and McDonalds were getting better results—sometimes dramatically better results—on Facebook.

Starbucks, for example, which has spent millions on Twitter efforts, gets 80 percent engagement on Facebook but less than 5 percent engagement on the microblogging site.

Of the 10 brands studied, just one—Oreo—got eye-popping numbers on Twitter: Nearly 80 percent engagement. Oreo gets just under 20 percent on Facebook. It and Skittles are the only two of the 10 brands that do better on Twitter than on Facebook. (Check out Oreos' Tweets, which seem heavy on chances to win some free sandwich cookies.)

Coca-Cola and Pringles did equally well with Twitter and with Facebook, though "well" is a relative term; Coca-Cola's engagement rate was about 5 percent, while Pringles's was 10 percent.

The study did not offer analysis of the results, though mediabistro's AllTwitter found them surprising.

Observed Lauren Dugan: "McDonalds and Starbucks, for instance, have been among the beta testers for Twitter’s advertising products, Promoted Products, since they launched. Both brands have spent millions on advertising on Twitter, offering coupons, free coffees and discounts—but their engagement rates are between 1 and 5 percent on Twitter, while they’re seeing between 30 and 80 percent engagement on Facebook."

How to improve your own engagement rates on Facebook? Socialbakers suggests taking advantage of the site's new "Facebook questions" feature, which can be used to ask questions of fans without forcing them to add any applications to answer them (a deterrent).

Socialbakers gives the feature's "viral-ability" a thumbs up, observing: Questions appear not only on your page’s wall as full stories but each time one of your fans answers the question, it appears as a full story on all of their friends feeds. If their friend answers, then it also shows as a full story in their feed and so on. Anyone who sees the poll can also post comments and “follow” the question to be alerted of future comments and outcomes.

Have you noticed a difference in your engagement with fans on Twitter versus Facebook? Have you tried Facebook questions?

Photo credit: iStock

Business Writers