I think people have it all wrong about Twitter. I really don’t think Twitter is any more a social network than email is or text messaging is. The only difference between Twitter and those tools is that its wide open.
I think a social “network” is something you enter into mutually with other people. It’s a community. Twitter is a 1-to-many relationship. You can’t join my Twitter network. You can follow me, in which case you can receive my updates. But just because a lot of people follow a person and receive their updates, that doesn’t make them a “network”. It’s no different than joining my email newsletter list.
Here’s an example. When you go to a conference and hear someone speak, do you have a social relationship with them? No, of course not. That’s Twitter. Sure, you can raise your hand and ask a question during the Q&A, but that’s about the extent of your relationship.
Facebook, however, is a social network. It’s a relationship that two people mutually agree to enter into.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I’m on a panel next week at the Integrated Marketing Summit in Atlanta. The topic is, “Can email and social live happily ever after”. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that they are two completely different things. I think the real question might be, “Can your brand.com website survive in the social web.”
I know most of you reading this think Twitter is very much a social network. Let’s debate.
* full disclosure, I had this debate a while back with @ivey. I doubt he has the stones to jump back into it with me.