If Twitter is the social media site that swoops into the slipstream to speed over the surface of the earth, then Facebook is a two-ton behemoth that trudges over the landscape, its every step shaking the ground. Twitter’s super-short messages may have quick engagement, short shelf lives, and limited reach, but Facebook has become a worldwide phenomenon, reaching every corner of popular culture, transforming its founders into billionaires, and even catching the eye of big-name Hollywood director David Fincher. So given its prevalence and influence, it makes sense for us to ask the same question of it as we did of Twitter, namely has Facebook replaced SMS as people’s preferred form of mobile marketing?
The picture appears a bit more rosy for Facebook than Twitter. Recent statistics indicate that 1.15 billion Facebook users access their accounts on a mobile device each day and approximately a billion of them have the Facebook Messanger app installed, a program that directly competes with SMS. “Five new profiles are created every second,” and by the end of 2013, some 16 million local businesses had created their own Facebook pages. Those are pretty impressive figures and they ought to make even the most diehard SMS aficionado take note.
Of course, some of those numbers should be taken with a block of salt. Because Facebook doesn’t require any verification to create an account, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that 83 million profiles are bogus—and those are just the ones the experts know about. While no one should sniff at a communication medium that connects with nearly 15 percent of the world’s population, don’t forget how I mentioned earlier that SMS can access more devices than there are people to hold them. Facebook can’t yet hold a candle to that kind of technological diffusion.
Also, individuals seem to prefer to receive messages in an SMS format. According to DNM, “mobile users read 98% of all of their text messages versus just 29% of tweets, 20% of emails, and a mere 12% of Facebook posts.” In matters of breaking down your audience into discrete groups and ramping up your communications, Facebook suffers from all the same limitations as Twitter. And when it comes to expenses, SMS is still superior, especially if you run your campaigns through UltraSMSScript.
Finally, we shouldn’t overestimate Facebook users’ receptiveness to marketing messages. Sure, they’re more open to them than other social media fans, especially since Zuckerberg and company have managed to successfully migrate sponsored posts into most news feeds. But the way Facebook introduced marketing has left a lingering bad taste behind. An article by The Next Web recalls how Facebook caused a huge brouhaha in 2007 by having its marketing algorithms clandestinely tap user histories without any way to opt out. “What’s fascinating is that we’ve never seen protests about privacy of this magnitude about any other website or online service,” The Next Web opines. Facebook eventually allowed for greater privacy controls, but the effects of its early misstep linger to this day.
One thing is certain: Facebook is here to stay, and companies should carefully consider its marketing charms. Indeed, many may find it worth their time. Yet in terms of expense, outreach, scaleability, and segmentation, SMS clearly speeds right on past it.