What did I do?!
I posted an identically-phrased note on Facebook, Friendfeed, and Twitter at around 1:30am PDT Friday morning. Specifically, I posted this: “Could you kindly help me with a super-quick experiment (takes less than 30 seconds)? I’ll share results 🙂 Thanks!”
I was curious to see which set of friends/subscribers (henceforth referred to as “contacts”) would be more apt to read my note and reply.
As of nearly 40 hours after posting…
So does this mean Facebook is better than Friendfeed and Twitter?
No. Is a particular service a better fit or a more powerful promotional vehicle for some people or for some needs or interests? Probably. But my experiment doesn’t prove that. This is based upon my sets of contacts, and was limited to a single test. I know it would make for a far more popular blog entry to trumpet this with a title of “[servicename] the [other servicename] Killer?!?!?” or “[servicename] Beats the Pants Off [other service name]” or — best yet — “[servicename] Set to Trounce Google?!?” — but I refuse to support such memes or pageview-increasing tactics. At least until I receive a very lucratic offer and then decide to sell-out :D.
So what does your little test suggest?
It means that — with my sets of contacts — I’m significantly more likely to get engagement and actions from my contacts on Facebook.
- What’s the contact acquisition rate? e.g., how many folks subscribe to / follow you each day?
- What’s the contact retention rate? How many people stick with you (vs. defriend or unsubscribe)
- What’s the attention rate? How many actually read what you post?
- What’s the engagement rate? How many click on your links?
- And lastly, what’s the action rate? This is just subtly different than engagement, but I mean this to distinguish between clicking on a blog post link and actually posting a comment there.
- Acquisition: I’ve found that I acquire contacts on Twitter far more rapidly than on either of the other services.
- Retention is a bit harder to assess.
- Attention: Not sure how I could possibly measure that. There’s no user-available “analytics for Friendfeed / Facebook / Twitter” that I know of. Bummer.
- Engagement, or click-thru rate… in the past, I’ve found that I’ve gotten proportionally the most clicks from Twitter contacts, followed by Facebook and then Friendfeed.
- Action is where things get a lot more complicated.
- Interconnection: Lots of interconnection between the services! Twitter is integrated into FF and FB, for instance. However, I don’t import my twitter feed into my Facebook account, and I also immediately deleted the twitter-post in Friendfeed to help mitigate this issue.
- Facebook UI change: Facebook just switched over to a new format. This could have increased or decreased attention to my link.
- Timing: The timing wasn’t necessarily optimal. Posting it so late on Thu night meant that — by the time most people accessed their account on the various services — they likely already had a ton to look at… e.g., my post was no longer “fresh” at that point.
Difference in contact symmetry:
Anyone can follow me on Twitter and FF (assymetry / self-selection), but I pick (and am picky about) who I friend on FB (due to both its symmetrical friends model and my own preferences).
Difference in contact type:
My contacts on FB are far less geeky than my contacts on the other services. They also tend to be typically personal friends rather than acquaintances or fans. In contrast, my contacts on Twitter seem to be largely online marketers, SEOs, and geeks. Same on FF, but with a much higher emphasis of online marketing / uber-geeky folks who are deeply excited about stuff online. Many of my FB friends just dabble a little bit online and most tend to be buddies from school, work, dance, etc.
Why Friendfeed / Facebook / Twitter and not [blah blah blah]?
Because these are the social networking/broadcasting-type services I predominantly use. I have also tried Friendster, Myspace, Orkut, Tribe, Multiply, Jaiku, and likely many other services I’ve forgotten about, but the three above are the ones I’m active on.
And now for some notes from the respondents:
In addition to the main survey question asking people where they clicked on the link from, I also invited people to leave a freeform comment. I’m not sharing all of them (due to privacy concerns), but have excerpted (and replied to in brackets) some below:
- Did worry it might implode my computer with malware, but hey, I’m leaving the company in two weeks! 🙂[Yeah, I hadn’t even thought of how my impersonal-sounding click-here request might be misperceived. Wonder if that lowered the clickthru rate?]
You’re my hero, Adam!
[Aw, and you wrote that even before you read this blatheringly long blog post. Hope you still feel the same way :-)]
Uh, it’s WAY too soon to be talking engagement — I mean you just confirmed we were FRIENDS yesterday!
[What if I added you to my Top Friends app list in FB? Would that win your heart?]
When you write up the results, please keep emphasizing that these are just your friends and try not to generalize.:-D
[I hope I’ve suitably emphasized that!]
Although I clicked through from FB because I have FB chat turned on in Pidgin and it shows me status updates right there.
[That’s a very good point. I wasn’t thinking about how use of third party tools could skew this experiment.]
- Good idea Adam, though I wonder if it may be slightly different results for others. After all, you are “the Adam Lasnik”. [I doubt my micro-celebrity status (in the webmaster world) would affect things one way or the other. Might be responsible for getting me more subscribers on Twitter and Friendfeed, but that’s why I listed proportional results above :-)].
Hmm, I think you’re missing a subtlety. I selected Facebook because that was the source of the thing I saw. However, where I actually saw it was in Google Reader. I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to get Facebook stuff *out* of Facebook and into the applications I prefer to use. FB does not really make this as easy as it should be. Also, I usually end up getting stuck with two copies of things when someone, for example, imports their Twitter posts to FB. But at least in Reader I can really quickly scan all the updates in a list, skimming over the duplicate or uninteresting ones. (I just wish I could get a FB feed for a friends sub-list!)
Wow, that experiment was neato! Can I do that, too? Should I do it? Are you gonna repeat it to see how things change?!
Yep! Technically. Probably not. Unlikely.
Frankly, I’m guessing my friends would get highly annoyed with me if I identically repeated this experiment, and — worse yet — I bet that people in the webosphere would get really pissed at you (and me) if this experiment was duplicated ad nauseum. So sorry, I’ve got first-mover advantage. Take solace in the fact that I likely won’t get rich and famous from this, though. Unless I’m offered a book deal along the lines of, “A Completely Unscientific Experiment Exploring User Engagement With Three Darlings of the Interwebs — The Untold Story” for one MILLION dollars. But that also seems at least somewhat unlikely.
P.S. — You’re welcome to check out the click-thru data of my original request via bit.ly :-D.
And now… YOUR turn!
Do my experiences match yours? Do you see similar demographic differences in your friend/follower sets amongst the services? What kind of response rates have YOU seen? Other thoughts?