Social Network Faceoff: Facebook Vs Twitter Vs Google+

In theory, all social networks — including Facebook, Twitter and Google+ — share a similar goal: To provide you with a platform to communicate online with your friends, followers, and encircled. In reality, each network has a considerably different culture, and as such, each is useful in very different ways. Here's a look at what each network does best.

Facebook made some compelling announcements today, and like the service or not, you can't deny that Facebook is building a powerful platform that extends far beyond what most of us think of when we're talking about social networks. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to ignore Facebook's massive platform and focus on direct, person-to-person interaction (where it's on the same basic playing field as Twitter and Google+).

Second, your experiences may vary. The different ways in which I've found each network useful clearly has a lot to do with how I use the different social networks. These results may not be typical of what you've experience; I'm just one user, and networks may behave entirely differently. (And I'm eager to hear your take in the comments.)

Google+ Is Like an Old-School Forum or Blog

Using Google+ feels to me a lot like I felt in the internet days of yore when I'd post questions to a forum. I mean this in the best possible way. I get more thoughtful, longer-form responses, and if I'm looking for help or advice on something, Google+ is the network that gives me the most and best responses. In many ways, it also feels like a blogging platform with a very active community. That causes some dissonance for people who want to own their content on their own blog, but it's also a testament to Google+ as a solid platform for deeper-than-normal interaction on social networks.

Twitter Is Great for Broadcasting, Taking the Temperature, and Starting Relationships

Twitter has done some incredible things in terms of tracking the cultural zeitgeist, but as an individual user interacting with people on Twitter, I've always found Twitter more useful for broadcasting and sharing links and other ephemera. As for harnessing the hive mind, Twitter's 140-character limit means you don't get a deep response (like you can on Google+) when you put a question, but it is really good for polling when the response is binary (yes/no) or multiple choice. Last, of all the social networks, Twitter is the one where I feel most comfortable approaching people I don't know and start building a new relationship — primarily because it's the service where I've had the most luck actually interacting with peers and colleagues I'm not already "friends" with.

Facebook Is Great for Friends

Like a lot of Lifehacker readers, I've never been a huge fan of Facebook. Privacy concerns notwithstanding, Facebook is currently without question the most massive and powerful social network for connecting with actual friends. For most of us, that's the entire purpose of a social network: To allow us to interact better with friends. Consequently, adoption is key to that interaction. I'd love it if all my IRL friends and family were on Twitter or Google+, for example, but they're not. They're on Facebook. They're not early adopters or Google lovers, and they're not likely to make the switch to Google+ any time soon.

While Twitter and Google+ are excellent platforms for people interested in reaching outside their social circles, Facebook is really good at reaching in and strengthening interaction within social circles that already exist outside of Facebook's database. Families; friends; co-workers. They're Facebook's bread and butter.

Three Social Networks, One Question

Yesterday I asked one simple question across Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ at the same time. The responses I received offer some interesting insight into the cultures of each network — or at least into how my friends, followers, and encircled interact.

Here was my question:

"Going to Santa Barbara wine country with my visiting parents this weekend. Any suggestions?"

Here were the results (as of a few hours after I'd posted):

This question by no means represents a scientific sample, study, poll, or inquiry. Still, these results provide a fairly accurate illustration of my experience with simple Q&A on each of these three social networks.

How About You?

Your experience may differ significantly based on the people you interact with on these networks, the way you've historically used them, how long you've been involved in each network, and lots of other factors. Tell us which networks work for you, and why, in the comments.


Comments

    I found this really helpful. I only have a facebook right now, but am highly considering making a twitter and google+ soon. what benefits can i get from these other 2 social networking sites?

    I use Facebook and Google plus but not twitter as i find it to cluttered and unpolished. Google Plus is very nice tho , just need more people to take it on board.

    Well I have lots of contacts on FB
    I use twitter a bit But to me its nothing like FB
    Now G+ - all I wanted to link to where Jamie Oliver wow the recipes and Larry Page for what is google up to

    BUT I'd have to get my contacts to go to G+ so I don't think so - FB is so well established...

    I don't see any advantage of facebook over G+. With right permission setup of your circles, you can make similar broadcasts to fb.

    Ok i give you games (still yet to see how G+ implement this).

    Ads-ridden, money-suckers, time-waster games in fb is the major reasons why i left it anyway.

    Diaspora* FTW!!!

    I prefer G+ and I'm thinking of dropping my presence on FB, because I find the idea of posting things like 'Just ate the best sandwich evar!' a bit....I don't know, wrong I guess. but it's become so ingrained in my everyday. That said I'm not going to delete my account, because there are many people who I'd lose contact with.

    I tried Google+ yesterday and it's pretty much useless.. I have 2 actual direct contacts and then a bunch of other people I have emailed who I actually don't know. For it to work, it needs to not be exclusive to Google contacts. For example, my girlfriend has a GMail account but doesn't use it unless her Yahoo account is not working (connection issues etc).. so it's unlikely I will ever be able to communicate with her through G+.. and the other of the 2 contacts is my Mum..

    As per previous posts, G+ is just so unestablished and it seems too clunky to get people over to G+ if they don't have a Google phone of some kind.

      Light, your girlfriend doesn't have to be using Gmail to be active in Google+. It's just a login in the end. I rarely use my Gmail account and that doesn't stop me using Google+.

    What I'm starting to not like about Facebook, is that they think that I give a shit about my 'friends' way more than I actually do.

    Now this is not meant to be nasty, but like most Facebook users I have a few close friends and the rest are family, relatives and people I went to school with.

    I like hearing about people having kids or landing their dream job, even if they are school chums who I never spoke to, but I don't like seeing EVERYTHING they do. My current Facebook is littered with "X commented on Y's photo" where X is someone I haven't seen in a decade and Y is their friend in Singapore who I will never meet.

    Google Plus (and Twitter) know that not everyone is your best friend since Kindergarten and instead delivers what you want with options to filter out the noise (e.g. mute posts, unfollow on Twitter etc.)

      You can control how much of your friends you see on facebook too. you can do it for individuals and the new lists filter friends for you too. if you don't want to see stuff, the option is there :P

    I got all three, and the one I use the most is Twitter. Facebook is the the second one I used the most. As for Google+... well, it's kinda dead right now.

    You see, most of my friends/contacts are on Facebook, while my closest friends use Twitter, or I talk to them through phone/msn/face-to-face. Right now, very few of my friends are using Google+ (but that might change soon, who knows).

    I use Facebook more out necessity (wanting to stay with contacts with friends) rather than pleasure. To be honest, I don't like Facebook, and the latest update (more specifically, that feed on the top right corner) has made the experience more annoying. Sure, I'll get used to it in a few weeks or months, but I'm not liking the path Facebook is going down, and the news of the new update coming soon doesn't make me happy. But I'd still use it, unless more people start using Google+. And to be honest, as far as my friends are concerned, I wouldn't be surprised if that happened.

    As for Twitter, I'm happy with it. =)

    I had google+ for 5 minutes. didn't like it. doesn't have any unique reason for me to use it over facebook, which contrary to common belief, does everything that google+ does really. i am planning to start using twitter more when iOS5 comes out, because it has some unique opportunities that facebook does not offer.

    I primarily use Twitter and G+, i dont have a FB account, i hate facebook. Twitter is great for small conversations and quick replies and questions and G+ has people posting awesome links and other stuff on it, especially since the cat gif phase ended.

    so butey fulll

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now