There are no words for what is going on right now from events in Ferguson, Missouri to the death of Robin Williams and even to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and events in the Middle East. It's a lot to take in, and this blog isn't about breaking down the larger and more important meaning behind these events, but it is about how they are coming to life — online in powerful, tragic and even humorous ways.
These represent what is best about online communities in the way they add speed and reach to incredibly important messages. Of course, this comes with trolls, organizations like ISIS that post horrific images to get their message out and, of course, everyday cyberbullying. Online reflects offline with a back-and-forth between the best and worst of what humanity has to offer.
People have flocked online to update each other on what is going on, grieve, share news, comment on current events and show their support for worthy causes, and all of this is taking place in the most critical piece of social real estate from a marketing perspective — feeds.
Events are unfolding on Facebook News Feeds and Twitter Timelines, and as marketers we can learn a lot from how conversations are unfolding.
Facebook ≠ Twitter
It's amazing to see how much content is copied and pasted by marketers between their brands' Facebook Pages and Twitter profiles because users clearly view them as distinct channels with nuances that make duplication ineffective.
As Digiday points out, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is dominating Facebook News Feeds. Each time I check my feed, a new friend has posted a video. It's really all there is to see at this point, while events in Ferguson, Missouri and the Middle East are being shared, commented on and followed on Twitter. There, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is virtually invisible.
What is being shared online at the present time carries a great deal of importance, and as marketers, we'd be remiss to ignore what people are sharing and how they are sharing it can teach us for the future.
Filtered Facebook and Unbridled Twitter
What people want, how they think and how they create online is distinct to each platform:
- Real-time vs. Anytime - Twitter is a constant update of the latest, greatest news. It's not a place to reflect on the past. It's what is going on here and now, while Facebook and its users have no problem taking their time, revisiting and displaying content that is old and buried by fresher content days or even weeks ago.
- News vs. Updates - Twitter is about sharing news and experiences that affect us all, while Facebook is about sharing updates about what is going on with you personally. Twitter used to be known as the platform where you share what you had for breakfast. Now, it's about sharing what is going on in the world, while Facebook is the more likely place to showcase the photo of the delicious meal you've had.
- Raw vs. Filtered - Twitter is pure anarchy. It's an onslaught of content and information. Facebook is meticulously curated based on our behavior and what people care to share with us.
- Discovered vs. Curated - Twitter will always present you with something surprising and unexpected. Serendipity is what you go there for. Facebook is carefully packaged just for us. We know who we're getting content from, and Facebook's algorithms choose who and what to highlight for us.
- Others vs. Self - Twitter's focus on news and events encourages people to share the happenings of others, while Facebook is a bit more narcissistic, allowing people to create profiles featuring all of their interests and creating content about themselves. This isn't meant to say one is better than the other but to show that they each play different roles in human fulfillment.
As marketers, our goals are to create experiences related to our brands that people want to seek out and share with the ultimate goal of driving them to purchase. Creating experiences people will care about starts with understanding the environments where these experiences can be built. A Facebook experience is very different than a Twitter experience, which differs from a website, email and other platform experience.
There's a lot we can learn from how current conversations are unfolding, but perhaps the biggest takeaway any of us can have as we think through what our organizations can accomplish is we all should strive to make the world a better place.