Why Rob Diana is right: Twitter gets the hype while Facebook will get the gold

Rob Diana just wrote “Sorry Twitter, Facebook is The Data Gold Mine.”

First, let’s go back to Ronn Owens. He’s a talk show host on KGO Radio. Actually, he’s the #1 rated talk show on the #1 station in San Francisco (if you exclude nationally-syndicated radio guys like Limbaugh). I was listening the day he discovered Twitter. He resisted at first (a guest told him he MUST be on Twitter, because it’s a good way to let his listeners know what’s coming up). The next day he announced that he had joined Twitter to his audience. I was follower #24 (he now has 558). I joined about 20 minutes after his announcement because I was driving. It was amazing to me that he had only gotten 24 followers in that time, which demonstrates the lack of engagement of a talk radio audience, but I’m getting off track.

What got him onto Twitter? (He’s talked about it several times since). Its publicness.

This is what is driving Twitter’s hype. See, for a celebrity like Owens, or a brand like CNN (which has several accounts on Twitter) the publicness of Twitter is like crack. Facebook might have more users, but it’s hard to be “public” on Facebook. Google’s spiders (the software that indexes web pages) can’t get into Facebook easily while those same spiders eat up Twitter.

The “publicness” of Twitter makes a TON of sense for someone like Ronn Owens who wants to reach a world-wide audience with very little work. Facebook makes less sense because it’s not only more work (there’s a lot more to do on Facebook than just write simple text messages from a cell phone) but it isn’t as public so it’s harder to get new followers.

But this is exactly why people tell me they use Facebook instead of Twitter. So, Facebook has the numbers (about 180 million for Facebook vs. about 10 million for Twitter). It is also why Rob Diana is right: people will put more intimate stuff, like having a baby, into Facebook rather than Twitter.

Only weirdos like me like sharing intimate stuff in a public forum and having conversations. Hint: for every weirdo like me, there are 1000 who are like my wife and only want to discuss that stuff with their “true friends.”

Which brings me back to Rob Diana’s point. It’s those intimate details that will bring advertising opportunities. “I’m having a baby shower in San Francisco at the Hyatt” is the type of thing normal people will share in Facebook with their friends but will never think of sharing in Twitter. Yet that’s the kind of information that a brand like the Hyatt needs to engage with you.

When I went to Las Vegas recently and said I was staying in the Luxor, someone got back to me at the Luxor on Twitter and said something like “let me know if I can help you, I can get you show tickets and make reservations for you.”

This kind of customer intimacy will be far more prevalent over on Facebook because WE are far more intimate there.

Rob is right, I wonder how Twitter is going to shift to get us to be more intimate with sharing the intimate details of our lives?

Oh, and I wonder how Facebook is going to keep us sharing the intimate details of our lives as it tries to add businesses to the social graph? The first time some business answers back a Facebooker like the Luxor did to me on Twitter they might get freaked out, so Facebook has to be careful here.

So, why would Facebook get any money from the Luxor? I can see a ton of ways. Can’t you?

Think of the Yellow Pages. Simple listings are free there (or were back when I advertised in the 1980s). But bigger ads that are more impressive cost thousands per month. Use that model on Facebook. Imagine a brand, like Luxor, just wants to say hi. That’s free. But how about post a link? That’ll be $4 please. And on and on.

Scoble responsible for destroying the utility of the social graph

The other day I was talking with someone who works at Facebook. She and I were having a fun conversation about number of followers and all that. At one point she emailed back that I was “destroying the utility of the social graph.”

How did I do that? By adding people who actually were not my “real” friends.

I asked her to define “real.”

Anyway, this morning, in the comments of my Facebook post I saw a comment from someone named “facebook user” that said “people may not be leaving, but i know plenty of folks who are trimming their friend lists down to true personal friends.”

Ahh, have you ever thought that this is behavior that Facebook wants you to do?

After all, how can they recommend the best sushi restaurant to you if you’ve added people you don’t even know?

Hint: the Facebook employee is right. I have destroyed the utility of the social graph — from her point of view. But I’m there to study patterns of early adopter behavior. For ME my social graph brings me stuff that no one else’s social graph brings.

Which points to what I want in the future: multiple social graphs for different things.

See, I know that Dori Smith (she’s one of the two people who convinced me to start blogging) is a Javascript expert who works in Sonoma. So, I bet she’s also somewhat expert on wine. But, I doubt she’s expert on baby strollers or Half Moon Bay restaurants. So, I want to add her to my “wine” social network. Who would be #1 there? Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of winelibrary.tv, of course. He knows more about wine than anyone else I know.

I really hate the word “friend.” It has no meaning anymore. No one can define what a friend is. Believe me, I’ve asked dozens of people to define it for me. My wife is my most “true” friend, for instance but if you trust her with picking a great wine (she doesn’t drink much) or picking a great sushi restaurant (she hates the stuff) you’ll be very disappointed. You’d be better off asking @garyvee about the wine even though you’ve never met him and he probably wouldn’t be listed among your “true” friends.

This is one reason why I like Twitter and friendfeed. Friendfeed in particular lets me follow different people with different contexts. I can put @garyvee into a “wine” folder, for instance. But I can also put him into “social media innovators.” Twitter doesn’t let me do that, but Twitter also doesn’t try to force me to subscribe to only my “true” friends.

Anyway, in the past eight years I’ve met many thousands of people face-to-face. Just last week I sent off more than 1,000 business cards to Allen Stern’s new business, CloudContacts (and that’s only a small fraction of the ones I’ve collected since I’ve started blogging). His business is scanning them and will build me a new social graph that I’ll bring into friendfeed and other places to study. I can’t wait.

Regarding whether I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph: that’s up to me to decide, not you. Not Facebook. Not my commenter. I get great utility out of what I’m doing. I see patterns before most other people do and those patterns are getting more and more useful. A year ago I didn’t have the ability to search Tweets or friendfeed items. Today I have very rich search features so I can go through my like feed, for instance, and find every item that mentions Evernote.

Think that’s not important? Well, Feedly, a company that makes a small toolbar that sits at the bottom of Firefox, is using friendfeed’s search API to find people who’ve said stuff about the pages you’ve visited. This is a new kind of application that simply was not possible a year ago.

Yeah, I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph, but on the other side is a whole new world that I’m discovering has great utility. You must destroy before you can build. Go have fun with your social graph and stop taking this friend thing too seriously. :-)