Which are more Profitable? Facebook Likes or Twitter Tweets ?

A study by “Eventbrite” published on March 16 concluded that Facebook “Likes” are more profitable than Tweets. The company monitored sales and traffic over a six month period, an extension of a previous 12 week study. The average Facebook Like returned $1.34 cents per share compared to the $0.80 cents with a Tweet.

Here are some other factors to consider…

‘Followers’ vs. ‘Friends’
Friends require a two way relationship so there is a certain amount of trust. It does make the endorsement by a true Friend more valid but there is a higher signal to noise ratio. In comparison, people tend to follow a Twitter account because they are interested in the content. Twitter does not require a reciprocal, exclusive relationship so it is possible to reach a larger pool of people. Twitter works more as a broadcasting system with occasional feedback and Facebook more commonly works more like a forum or exclusive social network. This is why I would suggest the person who has the top amount of followers has much more than the person with the top amount of friends.

In fact, Facebook has changed their fan pages to be more like Twitter so that you can ‘Like’ someone (this used to be ‘Become a Fan of’) but you don’t have to be their ‘Friend’. Some Facebook pages need you to ‘Like’ it before you can view anything which could be viewed as a rather heavy-handed technique to get a ‘Like’. The Facebook fan pages generally require you to have a Facebook account to view the page. On the other hand, Twitter does not require you to have an account to view the content apart from the relatively few protected accounts. However both require you to have an account to share content.

The Like Button
Referring to the Eventbrite study, it mentions “…the Facebook “Like” button, the lowest-friction social sharing tool on the web. On our order confirmation pages, we integrated the higher-friction but stronger “Publish to Facebook” tool. It requires more work from the user to share than with a Facebook “Like.”

The Eventbrite study however makes no mention of the new Facebook changes to the ‘Like’ button despite it being posted well after the changes. On February 27th, the night of the Oscars interestingly enough, Facebook changed the function of the “Like” button virtually without any notice. Users were unaware that when they “Liked” something on a site outside of Facebook, it automatically posted to their wall. What used to be one line is an entire post with a thumbnail image, link and short blurb. The “Like” function is now essentially a Facebook “Share” but without triggering the dialogue box.

Some sites have accused Facebook of ‘bait and switch’ tactics. The change does actually take agency from the user because there is no way to add anything unless you comment on your own like at your Facebook wall. However in terms of social media marketing, it does increase the presence of the “Like.” It is no longer the lowest-friction social sharing tool though and users may become more selective about what they do “Like”. Considering that Liking something now registers as Sharing, has the new “Like” made “Share’” obsolete?

The question Eventbrite posed is the involvement and effort put into the action and how that translates to real results for the company but I think the changes warrant further study.

Driving traffic back
Eventbrite published that consistently across all channels: one share drives seven visits back (Facebook itself up to 11). It does depend on the type of event of course. Now that Facebook has surpassed Google as a source of information, it will be interesting to watch to see if this trend continues. To ‘Friend’ someone and to ‘Like’ something is to add them to your Facebook news feed so it is following Twitter quite literally.

Despite the Eventbrite results, I wouldn’t be throwing out my Tweet button yet. The study does not make mention of users that use both platforms – a not uncommon feat in today’s hyper-connected online community. However you might want to try and make use of the Like/Share by placing them in different positions (top and bottom of content maybe) for a double Facebook effect.

What we can be sure of is that social media is no longer the next big thing – it is the current big thing. It will be exciting to see how this changes things and whether the backlash regarding the changes to the “Like” will affect the profitability of “Liking” something and whether people will continue to use the “like” button.

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