Twitter beats Facebook hands-down for the FTSE 100

Latest figures from Three_D (social media division of Threepipe Communications) show that out of the 100 top companies in the UK only one third have a Facebook page while the rest prefer to use Twitter. These prove interesting statistics for online marketing managers who are using, or thinking about using social networking as a way to boost their company's online presence.

33 of the FTSE 100 use Facebook as a means to network with the public and create awareness of their products/services; 63 choose to Tweet updates to their -followers'- a useful tool that acts as a broadcasting platform.

The difference between the two networking sites is quite apparent; Facebook is far more personal than Twitter. Users generally know the people on their -friend's list' and so can reach out to them with their -status updates'. Twitter is an open forum and allows people more of a presence than Facebook; the latter has a closed platform and due to the personalised settings on others' accounts, it can mean that status updates are often bumped down on the feed or disappear altogether.

Facebook friends are likely to be people you know on a personal level; perhaps you went to school with them or work with them. You could be following Lady Gaga on Twitter but it is doubtful that you were in the same music lesson as her!

Companies such as Unilever are a good example of why Twitter is favoured by the majority of the FTSE 100. Launched a year ago, @Unilever_Press currently has 6200 followers. Online marketing managers at the company credit Twitter for the PR tool it provides; its target audience of journalists don't tend to use Facebook in the same way.

Ellie Bowden, Unilever press office Digital Lead, says: -Of course, when we launched the account we knew that it wouldn't only be followed by journalists, we're also followed by consumers, NGOs, competitors, employees, analysts and so on. But whoever they are, we want to engage and connect with them and hopefully help build Unilever's reputation by inspiring advocacy.

-We would never rule out using Facebook for these purposes, but for now we think that Twitter better suits our objectives.-

Bowden's view seems to be shared by two thirds of companies in the FTSE 100 and it is clear to see why.

Marks and Spencer uses both Twitter and Facebook to increase online marketing and awareness of the brand. They advertise new products, answer customer queries, occasionally retweet its followers and promote offers and competitions. Reaching out to 27,000 followers on Twitter and 303,000 fans on Facebook, you could say the Online Marketing Manager there is on the right lines.

Facebook does however have the advantage of visuals, where Twitter is predominantly text only.

What it boils down to for the FTSE 100 is the usability of the sites; Twitter wins the simplicity factor hands-down. All that is required is to sign up, pick a profile picture and off you tweet.

Often online marketing for major companies really can be that simple.

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