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How I separated the usages of Facebook and Twitter

As a humble node of the vast "inter-brain", I would like to keep on emitting receiving, and passing signals over those networks.

I recently bought shares of Twitter3. I felt the company became more sophisticated about inserting advertisements in the timeline, and it started to be good at displaying images and videos along the tweets. Be it Meerkat or Periscope, the live videos on the timeline simply increases the user engagements of Twitter. Fundamentalists love the revenue increase in 2014, and technicians got excited about the cup-and-holder. To me, the technology stock is still a semi-speculative, high volatility asset that I may or may not make money at the end.4

Enough about money. I wanted to write about how I've been using both social networks recently. In short, I use Facebook strictly for exchanging personal updates among friends, and Twitter for news feed, and keeping in touch with the people in several special interest groups for my professional growth.

That may nothing special or new to many, but it took a while, actually I went through 5 stages, to reach the clear separation of usages:

Stage 1. Signing up

Six to 8 years ago, I signed up to both networks just because I like trying new sites. It was clear from the beginning that Facebook was for keeping in touch with "real" friends, and Twitter for serendipitously connecting with random people.

Stage 2. Thought dumpsters

As it happened to many people who decided to do social media detox, I found both sites to be rather distracting with the short bursts of signals and noises. So, I closed the browser tabs that were always showing the social media, and created a habit of reading books and longer articles. But I didn't stop using neither of them. I like to keep the online notes of thoughts, and I kept updating timeline with short lines of ideas. Thus, both Facebook and Twitter became the thought dumpters. I just did not come back to the site as often as I used to to read the updates from others.

Stage 3. Facebook as news feeds

I read a lot online. After liking several news sites on Facebook, I realized one day that Facebook timeline became the major source of my reading list. I read what my friends shared, but direct feeds from the media were equally paid attention. Meanwhile, Twitter kept losing the share of my time because I followed too many people throwing random topics all mixed in a timeline. Twitter timeline just lost relevance that way.

Stage 4. Rethink Twitter

Since the beginning of this year, I was rethinking Twitter. Though it was less relevant and less engaging than the real friend network on Facebook, I still thought Twitter was a nice place to stumble upon the ideas and people who I don't meet offline. Data science, startup, and productivity have been the areas of my interest, and I was wondering if Twitter can increase the inbound and outbound influences on those topics through following and hashtags.

Stage 5. Clear separation

So, here I am. I made these tweaks to clearly separate how I use Facebook and Twitter.

  1. I use Facebook only to check out what my friends are up to. I unfollowed all the updates from the news that I had liked1.
  2. I unfollowed most of the people that I don't know off the internet2. This made my timeline much more relevant.
  3. Instead of following, I put people on Twitter on separate lists so I can switch the "channels".

Tweetdeck screenshot Here is how my Tweetdeck columns look like

As for the last point, using the Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, I can create columns of list-based timelines. For example, I have a column for news feed, I have a column for data science, and I have a column for the random people who I used to follow. Now I can focus on picking which news to read. I can focus on the special topic. And in the weekend, I can take a look at the tweets from the random people for serendipitous encounters. I like switching modes.

I have to see how this separation goes over the time. Regardless of how it turns out, I think both networks have their own use and I would keep on using them. Social media are organically connecting the like-minded people and even people with opposite opinions or different tastes into the web of brains. As a humble node of the vast "inter-brain", I would like to keep on emitting receiving, and passing signals over those networks.

Report grammatical errors here


  1. I noticed that I tend to pay attention to the articles with thumbnail images, and Twitter caught up with Facebook in displaying such images over the past year. I use instapaper to share what I read. Twitter apps have an option to save to instapaper while Facebook app don't. I guess Facebook app is too obsessed in keeping people on their timeline rather than handy integrations. 

  2. As I started to use Twitter partly for personal branding, I'm experimenting to treat following/followed rate just like Page rank. My objective is to be followed by more people from the target audience (data science, startup, productivity, and etc) without "link exchanges". 

  3. I bought at $49.15, cost basis. 

  4. Here is my piece on investment. 

Original post: April 2, 2015 | Last updated: April 7, 2015

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