Why We Have Such a Crush on Twitter (and Not On Facebook)

Stack of Business Cards Next to a KeyboardIt’s no secret PR professionals have an unhealthy relationship with Twitter. Despite the existence of countless other social networking platforms, including Facebook (which actually has much higher numbers than Twitter), people working in PR seem to naturally gravitate towards the micro-blogging service more than anything else. We give out our Twitter handles at networking events and print them on our business cards, which is especially interesting considering LinkedIn is probably the most professional social media platform out there. However, professionalism doesn’t have everything to do with it- Twitter is as much for creating friendships as it is for forming business relationships. So why are all of us flacks such hopeless (and I mean hopeless) Twitter fiends?

1. We’re Natural Born Networkers: Networking is such a huge part of our business, whether it be on behalf of our clients and company, or for a personal desire to move up in the industry. Twitter provides the perfect platform for networking since it is meant to connect new people instead of friends and family members. Any PR professional can attest to the powerful hand Twitter has had in increasing their network, and many can even share a story of how it helped them get an interview, job, or a new contact that benefitted their client.

2. We Love to Spread Information: Who are we kidding? Flacks are suckers for a good story or piece of information. The media IS our business. Not only that, it’s in our DNA to promote and spread the story of the companies and brands we work for. Twitter arguably provides the best platform for us to do this. Sure, you can share a link on Facebook, but that piece of information will undoubtably exist in a bubble unless you accept every single friend request you receive. Think about the amount of links you see on Twitter on a daily basis- it’s becoming the biggest source of news for many of us.

3. It’s Where Our Demographic Hangs Out: Even though Justin Bieber is literally CONSTANTLY trending, it has been proven time and time again teens aren’t on Twitter yet. I have a 13-year old sister who swears she will never join. This is a great indication Twitter just isn’t completely mainstream at this time, which means most people aren’t being followed by absolutely everyone they know (parents, grandparents, etc.) like they are on Facebook. We as PR professionals have been able to turn Twitter into our little sphere where we can discuss the business without getting a “huh?” comment from that family member that just loves to tease you- for the most part at least. This probably won’t last forever, but it’s nice to have in the meantime.

4. We Understand the Importance of a Public Image: Our business is all about branding and image, and most flacks I know are very smart about what they broadcast through social media because they know it affects how people see them. It’s really hard to limit what people see on your Twitter account (without going completely private) which means you have to think about every tweet before you send it. This is why we tend to use Facebook for our personal lives and are very selective about who we friend (that way only our friends get to see our embarrassing photos!). Thanks to Twitter’s public nature, it’s a better platform to share with business associates.

5. We’re Fantastic Researchers: In order to be a great PR pro, you have to posses exceptional research skills. Twitter has turned into its very own search engine due to the large amount of information that is broadcast and shared on a daily basis. This fact has been recognized by Google and Bing, who added tweets into their search results not too long ago. It’s a fantastic resource for discovering the top news of the day, gauging the sentiment of people towards a particular issue, finding out hot topics, etc. Additionally, the other great researchers- journalists- are using Twitter just as heavily for the same purposes, so it makes it a great place to connect with them.

These reasons help us take a tiny step towards understanding why Twitter has become such a lifeline for PR pros. Why do you use Twitter more than any other social networking platform?

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  • medallionfinder

    Nice post, Jess. You took all of my random questions in my mind (why do I spend so much time Tweeting vs FB) and organized them. I've found Twitter very valuable to my business and great relationship builder.

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  • Great compilation. Agree on all fronts!

  • jeffespo

    Jess – I love this post. The reason that I use Twitter more than any other network is that it is fast and has always been open and transparent.

    The benefit of Twitter is also that there are no Farmville or Mafia Wars invitations.

    Facebook's initial allure was that it was a place for your “friends,” now the network is looking to increase their openness going back on their initial value proposition.

    Only thing I disagree with is thinking about every Tweet. Getting into conversations that may not BC or “work appropriate” are commonplace for me. I have no problem talking poop or self degradation. The folks I communicate with I see as friends as well as contacts so its a way to get personal with the network.

  • silvasq3

    Makes total sense. Awesome post.

  • I think I'm the oddball, but I tend to use FB for a completely different purpose. I use FB to keep up with college friends and HS friends, and just people I love. I use LinkedIn or Twitter for networking or business, but I would never use FB as a networking tool.

    This stems from the fact that I was a freshman in college in 2005 when FB was first really becoming popular and that's just how everyone used it, so that's how I continue to use it!

  • stephmajercik

    Love this post Jess! I agree with everything you said! My favorite is number 3. All of my friends constantly ask me who I talk to on Twitter, and its all PR students, professionals, and others in the business!

  • That was great. Hopefully Twitter will remain a tool for professionals. I rely on it as my number 1 resource for information and new trends. I hope Twitter stays mostly with the professionals. If Twitter goes mainstream, maybe they will set up different channels so professionals dont have to watch valuable information get sucked down into the social minutiae. See ya this summer!

  • Becca Meyers

    I too use facebook for keeping up with my friends probably 98% of the time and am now just starting to use it for networking. I dont know why, maybe because I am lazy and facebook requires a couple extra clicks then tweetdeck?

  • Fun fun! Great insights! I know I'm drawn much more to Twitter despite Facebook's bigger numbers. Its just so much easier to connect with people without revealing TOO much of your personal life. (Considering all of us original Facebookers were in college when it first took off!)

  • I'm with you guys. Facebook is for friends, Twitter is more networking, meeting new people, and learning about the industry.

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  • Good points all, to which I would add one extra. We get paid to love it. Or at least to use it. Maybe the loving would have happened anyway for the reasons you state but it's nice to have it officially endorsed!

  • seanathompson

    I completely agree with every point you make, Jess, and the discussion here of Facebook being for people you know IRL and Twitter being for networking.

    One other characteristic of Twitter that lends itself to networking is you can follow most people without them having to approve it. People with thousands of followers that we all know likely wouldn't accept friend requests from even a third of their followers.

    I think we have a firm grasp on how to use Twitter to network, but are still figuring out how to use it professionally. Point #3 still limits our potential audience on Twitter for marketing and PR for our clients/companies. However, many of those people we'd like to use Twitter to reach ARE on Facebook.

  • I agree! Although the lines have definitely started to blur. I'm adding more and more of my co-workers as friends, and I have definitely had some people from Twitter add me on Facebook. But I definitely don't use it for networking.

  • Thanks for the feedback, I'm glad you liked it!

  • Thanks Lisa!

  • Jeff,

    I definitely think that's a personal preference, and it totally depends on what point you're at in your career. If you were currently job-hunting, you might not feel as comfortable about talking about poop (boy, i think you've been spending too much time chatting with @CTMichaels). I definitely tend to get personal, but I feel like I always have a certain line that I won't cross. I feel a little bit more comfortable on Facebook, because that forum contains a limited audience for the dorky things I tend to say 🙂

  • Thanks!

  • Thanks 🙂 I agree, I'd say that's largely who I interact with on Twitter, although there's definitely a little bit of crossover.

  • Hey Kyle! Thanks for the kind words 🙂 I feel like Twitter gets a little more mainstream every day, but for some reason it stops short of becoming Facebook. It will definitely be interesting to watch. Looking forward to working with you this summer!

  • Thanks! I definitely agree.

  • Interesting. That definitely wasn't ALWAYS true (because PR agencies weren't always fully supportive of it) but I'm sure there are a bunch of PR pro Twitter users that do use it for that reason. I'm happy to say that I'm not in that camp though 🙂

  • Thanks Sean! I agree, and I think that's a large part of why Facebook feels more “private” to people. You're definitely putting yourself out there on Twitter.

    I also agree with your second point- Facebook is very important to us as marketers. It definitely shouldn't be ignored.

  • jeffespo

    Talking about poop was just an example Jess, but yes I have talked to CT about it.

    While I agree that you need to watch some of the things you are saying while job hunting ie – who you are interviewing with, what you honestly think of the process or slandering the person who interviewed you (yes I have seen all three while monitoring the brand account), if I were hiring for a PR or SM job, I would want to see some personality.

    For example if I saw your Tweets, I would see a foodie who is gaga over pop culture. It also shows that you can build relationships out of the traditional PR/media space. Anyone can just RT the SM luminaries and Mashable – its how you use the tool that is the key. Someone talking about poop, well I would make sure it wasn't of biblical proportion but would see the person as having a sense of humor and fun to work with.

    Just some thoughts – feel free to disagree.

  • Yet another insightful post, with some really keen observations, particularly about the idea of the bubble. My main concern about the notion of constant information (in terms of links) is that this bombardment may eventually make us numb to all the information. I always try to keep up with the very insightful, engaging content, but what if I stop even for a day?

  • So true…it's scary.

  • So true…it's scary.

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  • Awesome post! will definately RT this 🙂
    @FloetryCatnap YAY! INFOBLOG!

  • As a PR I use Twitter because it's so instant.
    I can raise my profile by actively sharing useful information and helping people.
    I can see leads from journalists and respond instantly.
    I can use it as a news feed and keep up to date without trawling the internet…..what was that search engine called….began with a g….?!

  • I love this post! It is so true, at least for me, because I tend to use Twitter a lot to find out news. All five of these reasons we public relations people tend to crush on Twitter are great because I feel like i do fall under these categories. Thanks for this great post!

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