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Agent to Agent: How Twitter Is Used Differently than Facebook

By Gini Watterson, President
Massey Insurance Services

The initial phase of adapting your business to social media can be a challenge. With so many different platforms out there, it’s hard to understand what each one is actually used for.

On the surface, many of them look relatively similar: LinkedIn and Facebook both utilize the “profile page” concept and make it possible to “friend” or “connect” to people you know. Twitter, like Facebook, has the ability to share locations and express thoughts by sending photos, videos, and various links to your followers. Although the goal of social media platforms is relatively consistent—to connect with others—exactly how that is accomplished is what sets each platform apart from one another. Looking at Facebook and Twitter, two of the most popular social media platforms, one can easily get confused as to how to spread awareness for a business. Because Twitter has many less components than Facebook, it’s pretty simple to use. However, using it effectively can be a challenge.

As local California personal and commercial insurance brokers – seeking a way in which we could better connect with our community – we made it our mission to understand the fundamental differences between the two platforms; that way we could ensure we were using each social media outlet to its fullest potential. Here’s what we learned:

The chief difference between Facebook and Twitter is the amount of content you can include and how you use it. Facebook, from a business standpoint, attempts to create awareness by urging people to become fans and “liking” their pages. Additionally, whenever something is posted on your Facebook page (whether it’s a photo, video, link, etc.) it is added to your “wall.” Your Facebook fans and friends are then able to “Like” the post or comment on it. This is how you chiefly get people to notice your page without directly letting them know.

Twitter, on the other hand, is different in that it takes a minimalist approach to social media. At first glance, Twitter seems like a less ideal platform to spread awareness for your company. The inability to view photos and posts en masse can be a turn off to those new to the service. However, Twitter extracts a certain social trait that Facebook and its users have not seemed to latch onto: sharing information. While Facebook’s primary concern is sharing photos, creating events and more, Twitter is more concerned with supplying its users with valuable information they wouldn’t normally get any place else. Because each post is limited to 140 characters, Twitter is useful for posting articles, announcements, and short updates. Although the range of things you can do with Facebook as oppose to Twitter are greater, Twitter’s importance cannot be understated. In fact, as of February 2011, more people from the ages of 26-44 are more active on Twitter than Facebook, a valuable demographic for insurance providers to pay particular attention to.

Ideally, you want your Facebook profile and Twitter feed to be marginally different, that way you are not repeating yourself over and over again; boring your consumer. You want the content and information you spread to not have regularity, but to be unique, interesting and ultimately engaging.

We’re really just getting started with our branded social media accounts, but we’ve found that what really works the best is just being genuine. We post and share information we know our community wants to be made aware of—whether it’s state-wide local news, coverage or policy-specific explanations or just fun, light-hearted updates that coincide with holidays and local activities. Always keep in mind who your consumer is and tailor your content to them—doing that while also utilizing Facebook and Twitter’s specific strengths will set you up for social success!

July 30, 2011