Non-Profit Social Media: How do Twitter and Facebook differ?

Today I came across this article 5 Important Differences Between Twitter and Facebook, and wondered “how can these differences affect the social media presence of non-profits?” Yes, I know, seems like I might have some invested interest in this topic. While I’m interested in social media strategy in general, I volunteer for a non-profit and am always looking for ways to get our message out. So here is what I gathered from this article.

While Twitter takes only about 13% of the US market, it’s often a more niche group of followers (minus all the spam of course!). And while “a Tweet has by far a much shorter lifespan than a Facebook update” there’s a better chance to reach someone who really cares about your cause. For example, the American Red Cross has been able to successfully translate Twitter support into donations for disaster relief. While this is an outlying case, without Twitter those funds would have been lost.

Sometimes I personally feel that Facebook “likes” are a way to make your followers think you identify with a brand’s message, even if you don’t. For example, someone might follow the American Cancer Society, because they generally care about their cause, but they won’t really engage with the brand by donating, reposting, or attending an event.

However, Facebook can be used for “timeless news and updates.” I see this as a big win for wanting to convey a steady message, or have a good timeline for events, relevant news and friend interaction. Used often, this could also be a great way to interact with friends by responding with rich feedback to posts. According to an article, Facebook: Is it Worth your Nonprofit’s Time? “80% of nonprofit staff said that Facebook helped them build better relationships with their existing constituents by helping nonprofits stay in touch and build community around their issue.”

So if I’m a non-profit, do I use Twitter, Facebook or both? I feel if you have a consistence flow of content and time, use both. There will be overlap somewhere, but with Twitter you can post quick and often, ideally more updates and interaction with  specific “interest.” And then with Facebook, a slower cadence of news and updates with people who “like” your actual organization. But remember that social media needs interaction from both sides! If someone DM (direct messages) you on Twitter, or posts a question on Facebook answer them back, and always thank people for “liking” or “following” you.

Want to read more about non-profit social media tips?


Facebook’s “Event”… stay tuned for something anticlimactic

Zuckerberg’s official rebuttal to “The Social Network” has press clamoring to learn what will be unveiled at tomorrow’s press conference. I personally roll my eyes since Facebook is riding the coat-tails of “The Social Network,” which portrays Zuckerberg as “irreparably damaging and scathing.”

TechCrunch gives a good shot at guessing what all the fuss will be about tomorrow:

  • iPad: The lack of an official Facebook iPad app has been glaring since the device launched six months ago, and while some third party apps have stepped up to the plate (and done very well financially), a Facebook app is still nowhere to be seen.
  • (More) Places: Facebook Places launched in mid-August, and it’s still missing some key features, particularly on the desktop version of the website. Likewise, we could see a much larger campaign urging local businesses to become active on Facebook Places.
  • Credits: Facebook Credits are being used in more games (they frequently came up in the gaming event last month). But what about a broader launch that lets anyone use them?
  • The Facebook Bar – Facebook has been working on a Meebo Bar clone for ages now — they even announced it at f8. Where is it?
  • The Facebook Phone: They denied it existed. Then they said it sort of does. A full launch is the next logical step, obviously.
  • Update: As has been pointed out to us about a dozen times now, the invitation also uses the word ‘Event’, which could be a hint pointing to news around Facebook Events. Or maybe Facebook just used that word because it’s, you know, an event.

I think this announcement has something to do with a partnership, rather than an actual item…possibly Google and the mountain of personal data Facebook has been sitting on? I doubt it. I tend to think the buzz has grown too much, and we won’t be rewarded. And, like in the past with privacy adjustments etc, users have not been overly accepting of changes. Tech News World prints, “anything short of the sale of Facebook to Google, or purchase of Twitter by Facebook, will be anticlimactic,” joked Paul Levinson, head of the communications department at Fordham University.

Internet Censorship in Iran

According to Rahimi and Gheytanchi in Politics of Facebook in Iran, “the Internet is viewed by the ruling clerics as potentially a dangerous domain, which requires harsh measures to control its content.” Although, it is not the content that is being controlled, it is the citizens of Iran. I can see how the Internet can be so scary and dangerous, with stories of a “saber-toothed cat in armor” that ate dinosaurs, visually offensive but fascinating galleries of Wal-mart shoppers, and heaven forbid multiple points of views on important issues! But all of these things are hidden inside a glass box. Maybe it is the assumption that consuming certain one dimensional data will have three dimensional thought and action.

I don’t think it is right to censor the Internet…there, I said it. Especially when it is, according to Yochai Benkler, what drives us to be more creative and explore our culture using a different medium than the past. By censoring the Internet you are effectively saying “don’t engage in understanding your culture.” There is so much ammunition for the “pro-Internet” side that it seems Iran is denying citizens their basic human right. In fact Finland just signed into law the right to have broadband Internet access because it’s that important! Continue reading

Social Networking on the XBox

This is great, finally social networking is getting the recognition it deserves as being a technology that is shaping our culture and the way we communicate. (Wow so dramatic!). Check out this Venture Beat article about how and when Microsoft will integrat these technologies into their gaming system. “Microsoft will now integrate the Facebook social network into the Xbox 360 dashboard…Microsoft said players can also post on the micro-messaging service Twitter from the Xbox Live game dashboard, so you can Tweet your friends while playing games. Both are coming this fall.”

Digital Native, side effect of technology

Digital natives is a fascinating topic as it presents a shift in culture due to technology. In the past society has changed due to technological advances, but in my opinion not so greatly as with todays technology. But what is a digital native and how does it present a culture shift? According to Wikipedia, a digital native is “a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3.” Taken from they are “are young people whose use of technology is completely ingrained in their lives -they have grown up always-on and constantly-connected. Unlike those even a little bit older, these Digital Natives didn’t have to learn to “be digital,” they learned in digital the first time around.” It is weird to realize that children born today will always know what it is to send an email, text their friend from across the room, or play an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). 

Growing up with this technology at our fingertips makes digital natives perceive life differently from those who remember writing letters, visiting a record store and making a mixed tape for your friend. Being able to shoot off a tweet, download a song, or “poke” your friend provides a sense of immediate gratification that is not so ingrained in older people. But what does this immediate gratification do to culture? I don’t think the jury is in on that yet. What we can determine is that with a simple click, it is much easier to share all your personal information, which can then be used by others. Continue reading

Facebook Pwned Friendster and Hi5

“With more than 150 million active users, Facebook is, quite simply, where it’s at,” writes PC World’s Brennon Slattery in an article called Happy Birthday, Facebook: 5 Reasons We Love You. Why does it matter if we have a winner when it comes to social networking sites, and is Facebook that winner? People want to be included in what’s hot right now, even if that means cancelling your old Friendster or Hi5 accounts and jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. Ultimately you want to be were your friends are, otherwise there is no point. In this sense, Facebook has pwned Friendster and Hi5 because of popularity. The concept of “pwned” is derived from online gamers and has gained increasing momentum. It’s used to describe the total domination of one item over another. According to, it’s domination “by an opponent or situation.”


With active members in “more than 35 different languages and in 170 different countries” along with 150 million users and counting, Facebook is the one to defeat. Launched in 2003, Friendster and Hi5 hold an audience of 95 million and 60 million users around the world respectively. Friendster has been struggling with past issues surrounding technical problems and an uninformed management which has impacted their popularity. Critiqued in a 2006 New York Times article, “Friendster ended up with three levels of V.P.’s, C.E.O.’s and board members who…were not connected to the social networking concept and didn’t really use Friendster… as Friendster became more popular, its overwhelmed Web site became slower…Web page took as long as 40 seconds to download…technical difficulties proved too pedestrian for a board of this pedigree…the board devoted most of its time to talking about potential competitors and new features.” In a video report, New York Times reporter Gary Rivlin stated that Friendster created “a new industry” but ended up being “unrealized promise.” (Click to see the 2006 video: Fall of Friendster.)


Continue reading

Myspace 2.0, Taking Cues from Facebook

Screenshot of Facebook profile using PageRage.

Screenshot of Facebook profile using PageRage.

Recently there was talk of Facebook taking cues from Myspace by providing access to custom layouts from Pagerage, allowing the use of video applications and having an increased problem with spam. But now it looks like the tables have turned. A recent New York Times article talks about Myspace’s new profile by saying “profile 2.0 is going to make a lot of MySpace users unhappy, but only if they’re truly happy with their current profile. We think anyone that’s been waiting for Myspace to do some serious spring cleaning on how users can customize their profiles is going to love Profile 2.0.”

There are some good and bad things about this change. Myspace 2.0 will make it easier to customize your profile allowing you to drag and drop modules and switch between layouts. Among the bad are issues for the more advanced users who’ve in the past relied on 3rd party layouts to modify their pages (Lovemyflash, Flaashy). Unfortunately the new Myspace 2.0 profile will not work with this additional code, “profile 2.0 will break most of the custom MySpace themes available. If you choose to try out Profile 2.0 MySpace reserves your 1.0 profile just in case you don’t like what you see in Profile 2.0.”