What is the value of Facebook over Twitter? Is there a difference? When do you use one or the other or both? In writing our book, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Barb Giamanco and I discovered that some businesses prefer Facebook; some prefer Twitter and some use neither. We decided to take a look at the two platforms to help you distinguish which is best for you.
As we’ve stated many times in the book, the ultimate decision about which social network to use lies with your company culture, goals and customer. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that you cannot choose “none of the above,” if you want to survive the new digital economy. Therefore, the question is which do we choose and how do we begin?
This article will help you begin to distinguish between the value of Facebook for business and the value of Twitter for business.
It helps to understand the evolution of these two platforms to get an idea of what works best for each. Facebook began as a social networking tool for college students. Launched in 2004 in response to MySpace which linked young people together throughout their high school years, Facebook targeted the student entering a college campus. In the early days it was a highly social network, similar to MySpace.
Twitter, on the other hand, began as a way for people to communicate fast and in short bites. The founders had no idea that the platform would take off the way it did. Begun as a way to simply say to fellow workers, friends and colleagues, what was on your mind at any given moment, the founders created a powerful communication tool.
Knowing how the two platforms began helps you understand the strengths of each and how you might best capitalize on those strengths.
Both Facebook and Twitter effectively target the population of 35 and younger. Facebook, however, currently boosts a significant rise in the number of boomers using the platform. As far as consumer use goes, however, for business to consumer (B2C) purchases, the demographics are similar. Both attract mid to older players, with higher education and income.
Value of Facebook to Business:
• Primarily a social site. On Facebook you can share as much or as little personal information as you’d like. You can post photos of yourself and your family or of your company and employees. Facebook gives you an opportunity to create a personal as well as professional profile of who you are. People learn more about you as a person. In sales we talk about the know, like and trust factor before a sale is made. Businesses that focus on other businesses (B2B) as clients understand this factor. Facebook gives you a great opportunity to let down some barriers and help your business customer learn more about you.
• Versatility. Facebook enables you to set up a personal profile, a professional profile, a business page or a fan page. You have all kinds of choices for putting yourself and your business in front of your customers. People like to feel part of a business. You can enable that by setting up a fan page for your business or for a unique product that you offer.
• Facebook ads. For business Facebook gives you the opportunity to purchase a pay-for-click ad to target a unique niche.

Value of Twitter
• Speed and real time. Twitter’s biggest strength is its speed. When you Tweet something, it goes out to masses of people immediately and in the moment. That is why it has become the world’s roving reporter. When things happen around the world, Tweets start pouring in. To get a message out quickly to lots of people, Twitter reigns king.
• Information and Research. On Twitter you get fast information and links to blogs all the time. If you are curious about what is happening in your industry, Twitter will keep you up to date quickly. If you’re curious about what people are saying about your industry or your business, Twitter will tell you.
• Versatility of response. Both Facebook and Twitter give you a versatility of response. You can respond to the entire population in Twitterville when you post a Tweet. On Facebook your status updates go to all your friends. People can see what you are up to or what is going on in your life all at once. Both Twitter and Facebook give you the option to send a private message that goes directly to that person. On Twitter, however, messages are more public than they are on Facebook. Wall posts on Facebook go to all your friends and all the friends whose wall you posted on.

There are many more value differences between Twitter, Facebook and the other social networks. Ultimately, you must look at each platform and decide how you can create a social media strategy for your business.
The New Handshake will give you lots of tips and ideas as well as a guide for creating a social media sales strategy for your business. Watch for its release in the coming months. Meantime, join us on our blog at http://www.thenewhandshake.com

Author's Bio: 

Joan C. Curtis, EdD will release her third book in 2010. The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media published by Praeger Press tells you everything you want to know about the social media and sales. Written with Barb Giamanco, who worked as director of sales for Microsoft, this book is a must read for everyone confused by the social media and wanting answers. Check out Joan and Barb’s blog, http://www.thenewhandshake.com