The Competition for Your Social Graph

This is the unabridged version of my current contribution to TechCrunch, “In The Fight Between Facebook And Twitter, Which One’s The Mac And Which One’s The PC?


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Facebook is much more than a social network. Twitter is much more than an information network or serendipity engine. Each represent a dashboard for your attention, a foundation for conversations and collaboration, and a matrix for your social graph and contextual relationships. In other words, Facebook and Twitter essentially represent the entrée to the future of the social Web as each strive to host, what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and others, refer to as our personal social operating system (OS).

What Windows is to PCs and OS X is to Macs, Facebook and Twitter are to our social architecture and enterprise.  Certainly there’s a David and Goliath element here depending on which company you immediately view as Microsoft or Apple. However, Mac and Windows are simply operating systems, not networks per se, and that’s where the metaphor of OS’ break down. Either way, there is the perception that there is a competition between Facebook and Twitter for your attention and your network.

Why? At the very least, Twitter and Facebook combine the elements of productivity and interactivity, combining a social OS, a global network, and a platform for open development.

The fabric of our online activity stems form a sophisticated social framework that facilitates the exchange of information and the sustenance of professional, conversational, and contextual connections. Facebook and Twitter, like Windows and Mac, allow us to interact cross platform, while hosting dedicated applications that support our engagement, productivity, and communication.

As much attention as we pay to this mythical clash between Facebook and Twitter, the truth is that it’s not unprecedented to maintain networks in more than one ecosystem. For example, I use both Mac and Windows-based systems.

According to new data from Hitwise, it appears that the epic battle between the two perceived leaders in Social Media is one-sided – or perhaps better stated, dominated.

As of October 2009, Facebook accounts for 6 percent of all U.S. Internet visits while Twitter represents only .14 percent. In fact, visits to Twitter.com peaked at .20 percent between June and July 2009 and has slowly lost attention in the interim. At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco recently, co-founder Evan Williams acknowledged the slow down in traffic to Twitter.com in the U.S., for now, but he also stated that they in the process of finalizing new features that will reverse the downward trend. Williams also reminded us Twitter continues to recognize growth in both mobile and abroad.

And, for those who take solace in the hope that traffic is migrating from Twitter.com to mobile clients, there is some truth to the theory. However, new visitors count for everything and Twitter needs to do a better job capturing new users and holding their interests after they register. The company needs to look further than its resident celebrities to attract and sustain traffic.

For the time being, regardless of numbers, Facebook and Twitter serve a purpose, and thus, remain the Mac and PC in the lives of many, including me.  And, until the day that I am forced or compelled to pledge allegiance to one or the other, I will continue to cultivate relationships and value across multiple landscapes and suggest that you do the same.

I am a Mac and I am a PC. I am Twitter and I am Facebook.

What do you think?

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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