Facebook and Twitter. Two mighty Internet fixtures and both have grown beyond the pastimes they started out as. Today, these two mediums play their part in political uprising, cultural revolutions and have managed to seep deep into our everyday lexicon. Even though they may be performing similar roles, the way information spreads on Facebook differs greatly from Twitter. So the reach and influence they have on people also varies. Which is the more influential social network? We discuss.

Social networking giants

Social networking giants

Nishtha Kanal
It might probably sound non-committal, but I believe Facebook and Twitter can be influential social networks in their own rights. Put simply, Twitter can hold the attention of the audience in real-time, even as events unfold. Facebook, on the other hand, is a place where ideas can germinate and grow over a period of time.

Of course, Facebook has always come across as a place where you share funny pictures with your friends, talk about things that you enjoy and post memes. However, we cannot discount the fact that Facebook is a gold mine of influencers waiting to burst. What we need is the right kind of idea. Take for example, the article from The Independent titled “The dark side of Dubai”. The piece was first written in 2009 but crops up on Facebook timelines every now and then, spurring a debate.

Twitter has an attention span as short as its word limit. However, the amount of people talking about a certain topic ends up causing a buzz so loud, the world sits up and takes notice. This loud side of Twitter is seen best during events unfolding in real-time. From events like “bandhs” in Mumbai to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movement, Twitter has shown that it is a force to reckon with when the power shifts in any part of the world.

Facebook is more like the feeding ground for vultures when the battle is over. Facebook never really cared about real-time and is the place where long-form articles are dumped and shared.  A study conducted recently shows that the more you like and share an article, more the chances are that your peers will end up liking and sharing it too. That’s pretty much how influential Facebook can be. You end up spurring a debate and action with every like and share.

Facebook and Twitter are influential at different points of time in a single event. These popular social networks are definitely influential, but you should probably head to Reddit and 4chan to see real influence at work.

Anujeet Majumdar
Both Twitter and Facebook have been gaining a lot of popularity in the last few years. Trying to gauge which social network is more influential is a tough call. In my opinon, though, Twitter wins out. In terms of sheer networking and reach, Twitter is a better platform for both the professional as well as an individual who wishes to stay informed. Honestly speaking, though, it all boils down to how the individual views and uses these sites.

Both platforms give you a range of ways to reach out to people, including sharing your photographs, videos, thoughts, updates, playing games together and so on. Be that as it may, a number of differences do stand out between the platforms. For one, the design of Twitter is simpler. Each tweet is designed to keep statements short and crisp. More importantly, there is no emotional attachment when someone follows you on Twitter or vice versa. This is the polar opposite of Facebook, where there is obvious emotional connect when adding friends or liking a particular post.

The bottom line for any social network is communication. On Facebook, the amount of content and communication available can overwhelm a person. Twitter, however, streamlines the process and despite the clutter, you can reach out to a lot more people. It is important to note that Facebook is a good platform as it provides a plethora of services and is an excellent tool to stay in touch with loved ones. But in terms of reach and networking, Twitter wins out for sure.

Shunal Doke
I believe it’s Twitter. Facebook these days isn’t much about sharing and expressing opinions and thoughts as much as it is about sharing funny pictures. Twitter, on the other hand, focuses more on original thought, and to some extent, it even serves as a quick way to get news because of the constantly-updated Twitter stream.

One simply has to look at some of the uprisings that have happened in the past couple of years to see my point. While Facebook does play its part, for example, in the ongoing problems in Egypt and Syria, most of the legwork and awareness-raising is carried out on Twitter.

In fact, Facebook users have proven time and again that they’ll “Share” or “Like” anything that tugs at a couple of emotional strings without doing any proper research on them. You can just look at last year’s Kony 2012 debacle to see my point. Sure, this happens on Twitter too, but the extent to which it does isn’t nearly as large as on Facebook.

Twitter has been designed to type out a quick message and hit send, whereas Facebook has been more focused on sharing things like pictures and how your party was last night. Because of this, Twitter ends up being a much better source for newer information than Facebook, making it more influential in my books.

Have your say. Which social network do you think is the most influential?

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