The social media websites that most of us use on a daily basis maintain their popularity by being unique. At least that’s always been my view.
Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIN… They are the most popular social media sites, and each serves a different purpose. And that’s a big part of what I preach to my social media clients. Each of these sites has a unique audience and demands a unique message.
But this pending Twitter update confuses me.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a screenshot of US Olympic Luge team member Kate Hansen’s updated profile:
(Why use Kate Hansen as an example, you ask? Well it’s Olympic season…oh, and she has the best warm-up routine ever)
To fully understand my confusion, here’s a screenshot of her Facebook page:
While the pictures she uses and content are slightly different, notice any similarities? Twitter has basically redesigned their layout to be damn near a carbon copy of Facebook. The profile picture…the header image…the content format…even the Follow button – it’s almost exactly the same.
On the other hand, the post layout is different from Facebook. Instead of a completely vertical, newest-on-top, setup, Twitter updates are set to show in multiple columns at various heights. So at least that is a unique idea…Oh wait…My fault – that’s stolen from Pinterest.
But I shouldn’t just pick on Twitter. Facebook stole their Trending Topics idea, as well as the hashtags from Twitter. Google Plus recently allowed you to turn posts into ads; something Facebook & Twitter had previously developed. So I guess they all get inspiration from each other.
And I get that. I get that if a user/customer really loves something about a competitor of yours, you’re going to want, and sometimes need, to replicate it. But there has to be a line. Whatever happened to differentiation? It seems like the go-to-market move for social networks is disruption, but they stay alive through feature homogenization and monetization through ad spend. From a business’ perspective – the people who are going to spend the money on these things – it’s getting harder to tell what the unique value for each network is. Why choose, say, Twitter over Facebook? Or vice versa, for that matter?
The closer these networks get to each other on features, layout, and audience size, the harder it’ll become to establish that competitive differentiation to their target customers (ie: the businesses they want to hang out there.)
With that said, the people running these goliath-sized social media sites have built billion-dollar empires and I still order regularly from the dollar menu. So maybe it’s not my place to criticize.
Instead, lets embrace and adapt.
What This Means for Your Twitter Marketing
1. Your header image is now much larger: 1500×500 pixels. Use this space to highlight your brand in a positive way, while avoiding the urge to be all salesy and spammy. Also, use a high-res photo.
2. Get creative with the “Pin” feature. This is actually a unique feature and a really cool one. You can select a specific Tweet to highlight at the top of your page. Use this to promote your latest blog post, product, event – whatever. But change it up often (it will drop down your follower’s feeds as it ages) and make sure you utilize an image to draw attention to your pin.
3. There are currently no more background images. If you were utilizing this before as a branding tool, make sure you log into your account soon and update your banner image with all of your branding info.
My social media speech always involves educating my clients about the need to deliver unique content to each of your social media profiles. In other words, don’t post the exact same post on Facebook as you would Twitter or Pinterest. Understand why someone is on that specific site and tailor your message appropriately. Facebook is more private – people post about their kids and their dogs. Twitter is more public where the message is shorter, more open, and the context is completely different than Facebook. LinkedIN, Pinterest, Instagram… Each one is different, so your message should be different.
I still maintain this position, even though the social sites are becoming more and more alike in their design. The remaining differences are still fairly significant. Twitter’s limit to 140 characters and public nature of status updates will always attract a different audience and message than Facebook, even though they are trying to look more like them. I think as long as those things remain the same, and Twitter never decides to change the content limit to 500 characters or something, then the importance of having a different message will remain.
By the way, as of today, you may or may not actually see the new Twitter profile on your end. A small portion of Tweeters have seen this update as it’s slowly being rolled out, but most won’t see this take effect for a couple weeks.