Data Shows: “Twitter”-Centric Stories are Not Heavily Shared on Facebook

A couple of weeks ago, I started collecting a new dataset and I’m really excited about it because it’s the first time I’m collecting data from the mother-of-all social media sites: Facebook.

I’ve begun by capturing links posted to social media sites from 10 extremely popular news outlets. Some of the top blogs, both mainstream and geeky, as well as a handful of the most web-enabled newspapers of record. Then I’m counting the number of times those links are shared on Facebook (in three different ways) and on Twitter (through good old ReTweets). I then find the average number of “shares” for links posted to each site and compare the individual stories to the average in percent form and then combine those numbers to get a percent “effect” as a positive or negative number away from the average.

At this point I’ve got well over a thousand links and counting with full information stored. I’m also getting better at retrieving the data I want faster and more reliably.

I’ve already got a bunch awesome of things to show you, so keep your eyes out for more, but first lets talk about “meta mentions.” A meta mention is when someone on a given site, say Facebook talks about Facebook, or when someone Tweets about Twitter. Typically with ReTweet data I’ve seen that talking about Twitter gets you a lot of ReTweets, and this is to be expected since most people on Twitter are into talking about Twitter. Of course with older technologies like email, people aren’t really “into” email so much as they just use it to get stuff done.

So far my data shows that while articles that use the word “Facebook” in their title get shared more often than the average story on both Facebook and Twitter, stories that mention “Twitter” actually get shared less on Facebook. My assumption here is that Facebook is less of the early adopter crowd that wants to sit around all day and talk about Twitter, while Twitter users are more likely to be social media geeks.

The key takeaway is to know your audience. If you want to go viral on Facebook, don’t talk about Twitter.

And since I’m just starting to get into Facebook data like this, what kind of stuff would you guys like to see?

If you liked this post, don't forget to subscribe to my RSS feed or my email newsletter so you never miss the science.


Dee March 1, 2010 at 1:58 pm

What I’d like to see, after your awesome Facebook research.. :) is a simple, step-by step plan on how to incorporate FB into our social media model, in 30 minutes a day! I’ve been focusing on content and Twitter, @AustinConcert, but know I need to get up to speed with FB.. Thx for asking.. OH! BTW, your ‘Science of Retweets’ is most helpful in my Twitter strategy.

terjedyb March 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

I'd like to see how often people promote eventrelated topics and links to promote parties, djs, nightlife, cafés etc. What are their motivation behind doing it? Are the clubs specificly targeting carefully picked people to promote their nights through facebook? I'm actuallt doing a paper about this now.

Ani Christina March 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I’d love to see more stats on successful viral marketing strategies that incorporate a sound understanding of facebook and twitter audiences respectively. Thanks for this current bit of research data – I’m tweeting about it as we speak.

Dan York March 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Dan, I’d be interested in analysis of how often links actually get shared by Facebook users as compared to Twitter users. In Twitter, retweeting is part of the fabric of what you do there, but I’m not sensing the same volume of link sharing. When I post a link out to our company’s Twitter account, I can see the retweets. When I post the same link to our company fan page in Facebook, I see “likes” and comments, but it’s not clear to me that the link is being shared as it is in Twitter. So I would be interested in any view into how effective link sharing is via Facebook versus Twitter. Thanks for asking.

nateriggs March 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Dan – fascinating stuff here. Nice work.

If each different medium is essentially a great big conversation, than each medium also has a different communication context. It's not surprising that more shares would take place for a topic related to that medium. We know that information shared in these mediums often results on a click to an article or blog post or whatever.

But here's a question: From your data, which medium (Facebook or Twitter) is converting readers on an action at a higher rate? Have you looked at that yet? I have some assumptions based on a project a few friends and I did last fall, but your approach makes a ton of sense, and I'd love hear about what you've seen thus far.

Dave Linabury March 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Dan, since the post doesn't go much into detail, I'd like to know more about the methodology. For example, did all the studied sites have identical tools for sharing to FB and Twitter? The reason I ask, is the number of simple sharing tools for Twitter vastly outnumbers the number of FB sharing tools, despite FB having a much larger audience.

What was the placement of the tool? If for example, TweetMeme was used, generally in the top of the post, and the FB tool is buried at the bottom, TweetMeme will likely get more usage.

You see where I'm going with this. Not ripping on your study. Just curious if those type of details were part of the study. Lastly, did time of day factor in to when a post was more likely to be shared, or is that out of scope?

lauriecreasy March 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Time of day! I'm getting a general feel for it through our FB page, but I'd like to know in general when the hot spots are for posting information.

This is great stuff, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.


TheCoolestCool March 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hmm, Interesting comment Dave – However… I think you might be looking into this data a bit too much. I'm not convinced that the location of the tweetmeme button or FB share button would be that big of a factor. Facebook and twitter are very different social networking tools – largely because of the way people use them. No one wants to flood their friends home page on FB – However, on Twitter its acceptable to send out 5-10 links a day. I don't know many people who share more than 2 links a day on Facebook. While on twitter you can find people spending an entire day just pumping out article after article…

If you share something on Facebook you're going to make sure its valuable to your friends. Because more than likely you won't be sending out anything else for the day (maybe week). On twitter however, you have more and more opportunities to share links without flooding peoples home page. Thus, people aren't as concerned with which links they shared this week compared to last.

Finally, when you look at the people on twitter it tends to be a lot of marketers talking to other marketers about marketing. When it comes down to it – Your audience on Facebook isn't the same as your audience on twitter. Unless you use Facebook solely to connect with colleagues and people in your industry your FB account will consist of your highschool friends, neices, cousins and old room-mates. For that reason, its unlikely that you'll be sharing tons of information about twitter, linkedin or any other tool for that matter. Because its unlikely that your “friends” will actually care…

danzarrella March 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I compared stories to the average on each individual site, thereby controlling for variations like this.
I haven't looked at time of day yet.

Ike Pigott March 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Dan, I think this is just a sneaky way of getting us to share an article that contains both words, so you can map the overlap. ;)

michaeldaehn March 1, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Not sure if you have access Dan, but I am curious about the efficacy of Facebook ads. Keep up the good work :)

arizona dennizen March 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm

i'd like to see data on what makes people drop their friends most quickly… not hide them… but deleting them from their facebook or twitter lives…

i'd love to know that farmville drives some people crazy… but i'm likely gonna be disappointed…

Shon, Joe & David March 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I used to help run a large promotion group out of Long Beach CA called Pure Evolution Productions (check them out). Not only does the club have a following, but so do the promoters on the night. We tried to add 50 people per day to our FB account, as this was all FB would allow, and we would target obviously by age range (21 to 28). We would have all of our sub-promoters (40 to 50 of them) promote on their individual accounts as well. Pure Evo would create the initial event post including; event flyer, times, drink specials, theme of the night, how to get on guest list, any party buses available, talent for the night, etc. (see their FB page for examples), and we would then send it out to all of our sub-promoters to copy and paste to their FB page. We had them post it 2 times per day, or whatever they felt would influence their friends the most. Worked out very well.

Shon, Joe & David March 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm


Great post! We look forward to seeing more collected data on this!

geekyclown March 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm

…and mentioning YouTube will have you de-friended on both networks.

Lisa Thorell March 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm

The FB data indicate the worm has fully turned: If you can unwrangle the log axes enough in this Facebook stat post… to compare the Twitter vs Facebook data (Trends 9 and 10), it looks like “Twitter” was nearly as popular as the term “Facebook” in the Mar-May 2009 Facebook data. Am i reading this right, Dan?

Thomas Pfeiffer March 2, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Hi Dan,

how did you collect sharings from facebook? There is no such thing like a public timeline or a search over all accounts, is there?

Thanks for your great work,


Lindy King March 3, 2010 at 1:09 am

Lisa, It appears that Dan's analysis is still spot on, as the figures are different on the left and fb still outnumbers by what looks like a pretty high margin. Ha, but I'm a novice, so may be misreading…

Lindy King March 3, 2010 at 1:10 am

I second Michael 100% on this one.

smitchell March 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Well, duh. Twitter is the “command line” version of Facebook.

Lisa Thorell March 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I took a look at Facebook vs Twitter “meta mentions” (as you say – great term!) on social bookmarking sites in this post:

Deborah March 4, 2010 at 2:50 am


I LOVE the way you think. You are a social marketing scientist. Follow your posts almost religiously. Keep ‘em coming. :-)

Deborah Diak
“The Music Marketing Maven”

Dave Linabury March 4, 2010 at 3:08 am

Ah, try sitting in on some usability testing some time. Placement is shockingly important.

Dave Linabury March 4, 2010 at 3:09 am

Very cool. Thanks for the reply, Dan!

PRBristolblog April 29, 2010 at 10:27 am

Think that people are turned off Twitter in Facebook by the number of people that connect the two together. So often a Tweet makes no sense what so ever in Facebook! Remember you have more characters and therefore you don't have to use clipped English.

{ 12 trackbacks }