Twitter Vs. Facebook: Which Is Better For Driving Purchase Activity?

Compete recently published a blog post called Four Things You Might Not Know About Twitter. Based on its consumer data, Compete concluded that:

“Twitter is more effective at driving purchase activity than Facebook. 56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicated they are “more likely” to make a purchase of that brand’s products compared to a 47% lift for those who “Like” a brand on Facebook. This is further evidence that marketers can drive ROI with Twitter by engaging followers through compelling content.”

My take: Nonsense.

Compete is off-base concluding that Twitter “drove” purchase behavior simply because a larger percentage of Twitter users are “more likely” to purchase from a brand than Facebook followers do. The only way to conclude that a source is a more effective driver is by comparing actual purchase activity resulting from specific messages or offers.

In addition, without a measure of what consumers’ purchase intention was before following a brand on Twitter or liking it on Facebook, it’s impossible to determine if Twitter or Facebook is having any impact on the customer relationship (Compete’s use of the term “lift” is inappropriate in the context it was used in).

Even if Compete had that benchmark, a change in purchase intention could not be attributed to Twitter or Facebook unless the messages, content, and offers were identical.

Bottom line: This is just one example of many that claim the “superiority” of one social media platform over another. Sadly, all of them are based on flawed data and assumptions, and misses the important point:

Different platforms are better suited for different types of messages/interactions.

It’s blindingly obvious how Facebook and Twitter differ in terms of the types of messages, interactions, and content each are suited to. As a result, the only way to determine which is more “effective” is in terms of an individual company’s objectives and needs regarding engaging with customers and prospects. And that means that “effectiveness” is based on the message or content — not the platform.

In other words, neither Twitter nor Facebook is “better” for driving purchase activity.

p.s. Note to bloggers/researchers/consultants/pundits: When publishing data that purports to claim that one social network is superior to another for driving purchase activity, ROI, or whatever metric you’re talking about, it would be very helpful if you talked about WHY one platform is better than another. I don’t think I’m asking for too much, here.

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One thought on “Twitter Vs. Facebook: Which Is Better For Driving Purchase Activity?

  1. Spot on Ron. For instance:

    A friend of mine (yes I have some friends) owns an online specialty sportswear company. He has a shopping cart on his company’s Facebook page where you can buy some sort of specialty Frisbee. You have to “Like” the page and then you can buy the Frisbee out of the shopping cart. He advertises it with Facebook ads and targets by demos and interests. Certain folks really like these Frisbees and he sells a ton of them on Facebook.

    Conversely, I landed a deal with an environmental cleanup company yesterday (e.g. they were in charge of cleaning up that big medical center – next to the Super Dome – after Katina). They want to be more visible and see online marketing as a cost effective method. So video, article and blog marketing – etc, etc. I told the president of the company that we can’t just rely on searches…we need to look at multiple methods to drive traffic. So amongst other things, Twitter would be a great way for him to engage folks and generate interest. I also told him to Google “Ron Shevlin” and look at how you do it. (We talked about the ROI investment chain as well.)

    Anyhow, my point is – I agree. “Different platforms are better suited for different types of messages/interactions.”

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