Facebook goes after Twitter and its lock on 'immediacy'

Analysts split on the threat to Twitter from Facebook's move

When something big is happening in the world -- a political coup or a natural disaster -- people turn to Twitter to find out what's being said about it.

Facebook would like to change that. Facebook may be the largest social network in the world, but when it comes to immediacy, Twitter has a lock.

"This is big for Facebook," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Facebook knows that if it isn't known as the real-time social media property, they will start to lose audience. Look at all the growing media around us -- it's speeding up. Facebook's popularity could be directly correlated to their ability to get that."

To that end, Facebook has been taking some steps.

In June, Facebook began to roll out the use of Twitter-like hashtags to help users find online discussions and compose posts directly in hashtag feeds.

Then last month, Facebook took another page from Twitter by beginning a test run of Trending Topics, which track what topics users are talking about most on the site.

Both hashtags and Trending Topics could boost Facebook in its efforts to dig in to real-time discussions about major events, including the Super Bowl, political campaigns and natural disasters.

When a major event occurs, such as an election, Twitter lights up with comments, rants and information searches. But with hashtags and Trending Topics, Facebook is looking to become the site users immediately turn to instead.

How to command conversation: 3 social media centres
More Australians are accessing social media via mobile devices
Coping with social media's unpredictability

In another effort to become more immediate, Facebook on Monday took the wraps off two new APIs that enable news organizations to tap into user comments and display them online or on TV in real time. The tools enable news services to use real-time Facebook posts, likes and stats.

Initially, the tool is restricted to a small group of news organizations, including CNN, NBC's Today Show and The Economist, but the group is expected to expand in the coming weeks.

"Facebook wants to steal some Twitter thunder when it comes to hot topics and events," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "The goal is to get users to utilize Facebook just like they do Twitter. The immediacy is key because it gives a real-time view of what people think, what they're doing, and what they're feeling right at that moment."

He noted that some TV shows are inserting live Twitter feeds into the broadcast of the show, giving users a chance to be an active participant. It makes viewers more engaged.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said Facebook realizes that at some point social networking users might limit the networks they use, and Facebook doesn't want to be discarded.

"I think Facebook recognizes that at some point folks are going to cut back on the services they support, and the one that has the best breadth of good services will be the survivor," Enderle said. "It goes to their long-term survival."

Analysts are split on whether Twitter is in danger.

"I don't think Twitter is in danger because I don't believe Facebook can own immediacy," Moorhead said. "Immediacy and depth work against each other. Just as Facebook owns depth, Twitter owns immediacy."

Olds, though, has a different take.

"This is certainly something that Twitter needs to consider in its strategy," he said. "Facebook has a huge user base and has the resources and reach to make their Twitter-like features prominent. They also already have an advertising-based business model that will make it easier for them to monetize this feature. Facebook is definitely a threat to Twitter."

This article, Facebook goes after Twitter and its lock on 'immediacy', was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

To DMP or not to DMP?

There are plenty of brands that can benefit from plugging into a data management platform. But should you engage an agency to run one or bring it in-house?

Ben Willee and Richard Taylor

Spinach Advertising

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

It is really inspiring to see that medial psychology & machines are going hand in hand to innovate new things and even are improving ...

CBT Professionals

How psychology is shaping better machine learning

Read more

Anything is achievable when you talk the talk .. good luck

Mo Al Hooti

Data Creative crowns Matt Bates as new CMO

Read more

Great hire and good luck Andrew. I am sure you'll do a fabulous jobRob

Rob

Amaysim marketing and commercial chief joins property tech investment startup

Read more

I need to be reborn before i can grow up & become a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

I hope The Block, will continue for many many more seasons.When i die, & grow up, I want yo come back as a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in