Facebook Is Stuck in Limbo … and It Makes My Job Easier

Why a Facebook That's a Step Behind Is Actually OK for Advertisers

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Twitter has become the social platform for communicating and discovering what's happening in the moment. Many think that this what fast-tracked its surge to prominence and a successful initial public stock offering. Meanwhile, Facebook, once the darling of the Internet, is now chasing Twitter by introducing new features to grab a share of the real-time marketing budget pie.

Twitter introduced us to trending topics. Google+ and Facebook followed. Then Twitter pump-faked us all by reprioritizing the search function and training us to use it, which makes sense when you consider how Google has made its billions and compare potential search volume to a limited-inventory trending topic. But instant conversation and news remains Twitter's strongest weapon.

In an attempt to balance Mark Zuckerberg's original vision of open and connected sharing amongst friends with changing human web habits, Facebook has found itself stuck in limbo.

Facebook has introduced new News Feed algorithms that claim to filter through your friends' and pages' most important updates. But at the same time, it has prioritized trending news from outside your social graph. Couple those dueling priorities with Facebook's now-fierce user privacy settings and an inability to proactively search for news content and you get a cloudy experience that competes with its stated vision.

For example, I spent last Sunday watching football and second-screening on Twitter. As expected, live sports and Twitter went hand-in-hand, enhancing my viewing experience and that of those I tweeted with during the games (I hope). And even though the numbers show that Facebook saw more than three times the amount of NFL chatter that day, I could see hardly any of it. Then on Monday at noon, my Facebook News Feed showed me a post from a friend that was published prior to Sunday's games even starting. To avert this, I would have to manually filter for recent updates each time I logged in.

Despite its attempts at doing so, however, I'm relieved that Facebook has not succeeded at turning itself into Twitter. As someone who makes his living helping brands navigate social media, my job is easier when we know how people use different networks. So long as Facebook remains a web platform for non-timely, broad storytelling (and that's OK), we can build content specifically for our audience there. And perhaps that means more time for football and Twitter.

Bryan DeSena is associate director of social media at Mullen.

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