When I first really started paying attention to Twitter in late November 2007, I succinctly lamented the lack of a Facebook connector. Twitter was, after all, a status tool, and it would only make sense that I could keep the two in sync. Facebook Mobile was not yet the most developed thing on the planet at that time, and I thought it would be nifty to send a service a text message to keep my Facebook friends up to date.
Then a funny thing happened; I started using Twitter as a microblog, with more frequent updates than pithy status messages on Facebook. I also thought the connector’s “is twittering” — a limitation of Facebook status then was that it was required to start with the word “is” — was kind of lame as well. So, I decided to stop synchronizing Facebook status with Twitter status and let the two run their course.
However, more and more Facebook friends started populating their Facebook status with their tweets, even though they may send many, many tweets a day (as I do). I got to thinking about perhaps reuniting the two; after all, I still have maybe 10% of my friends using Twitter, which means a majority of my friends are missing out on my wit. ;) I’d been tossing this idea around for a few weeks when the other day I ran across this provocatively titled Inquistr article by Duncan Riley. In the article, Riley notes that his response rate on Facebook has been more substantial than he ever thought possible. That was it; the one that pushed me over the edge, in essence.
So, Monday, the experiment resumed: I re-linked my Twitter and Facebook statuses. And the response? I’ve seen some decent response rates. But the mess? Oh, the mess. It speaks for itself:
First, that’s a lot of status updates. In my deliberation of whether to relink, I’ve said that Facebook is a “slower” service, as it’s not intended to be something that one would run in the background as a real-time application (though the function is available). It’s something people check and then generally head away from. Services like Twitter or FriendFeed, though, are predicated on the idea of near-real-time interaction. Thus, bombarding Facebook with Twitter updates — generally, any update not intended as a reply to another Twitter user is published in the News Feed — doesn’t really fit with how I perceive the service. Additionally, “Jared I can’t help but wonder…” does NOT make grammatical sense. Facebook’s status system intends to maintain the integrity of a complete sentence in its updates, and doing less really looks funny. (Thus, as crazy as it sounds, Plurk’s structured status updates make far more sense for synchronizing to Facebook.) Certainly, I could start my Twitter status updates as incomplete sentences, but that’s not how I construct messages on that service. This is one of those “irreconcilable differences” that my writer self is struggling with. Finally, people not used to the noise could be tempted to un-friend me (much as I’ve sustained many unfollows on Twitter over the last year because of my verbose nature).
However, I can’t argue that there’s been results. Some tweets have touched off some neat conversation, and the goal of getting those tweets out to those people who may never read them did indeed work. Indeed, it’s a double-edged sword.
In a perfect world, Twitter’s Facebook app would give me the option to insert tweets into the News Feed on its own without changing my Facebook status. I do want Facebook people, after all, to have easy access to my Twitter updates as they’re a huge part of my online presence. In lieu of Twitter-specific News Feed items, I’d like to at least free the box holding my Twitter status from the Boxes tab and place it prominently on my Wall tab. Unfortunately for months I’ve gotten this failure message when I’ve tried to do that (and yes, I have reported it). This has to be fixed. I am very judicious about what displays on my Wall tab, and Twitter status I consider too important of an item to be confined to a Boxes tab that nobody but the most bored will click.
In the end, I’ve decided to once again separate Twitter and Facebook. Links to my Twitter profile are pervasive throughout my profile if they want to get at it. My Twitter timeline is also available, with comments and “likes,” on my FriendFeed tab. The clutter and spamminess of the whole thing just did not sit well with me and how I use the service, and thus it’s best to keep this separated for at least a while longer, in my mind. Here’s hoping that some of the alternatives I’ve laid out can come to fruition, as I feel very uneasy keeping these services in silos. Of course, these are purely my perceptions. Some of you out there won’t care about grammatical correctness or News Feed overload. What’s been your experience? Why have you — or have you not — linked your Twitter to Facebook?
Update: Andra Watkins does a great job explaining the benefits of synchronizing status. She makes some great points, especially when noting that people can, in fact, turn down noise from specific folks in the News Feed. (I forgot about this feature, as I generally like to have everything there.)