17 Sep 2012

The Life of a Social Media Update: Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter & Pinterest

As the social media user you are likely to have noticed that there are several ways to send an update to your social media stream: you can send an update, comment on your friend’s update, like your friend’s update and share your friend’s update.

So what’s the difference? What happens when?

The Differences

To make it even more difficult, things are called a bit differently on various social media networks.

Let’s try to make things easier for Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest:

  • You make an update on Facebook, a Tweet on Twitter, a post on Google Plus and a pin on Pinterest. In all the cases this update is published to your profile and shared with your followers or friends in their streams.
  • You can comment on all the four networks and that comment is not published on your public profile or your friends’ streams but the person whose update you commented on, is likely to be notified by email (unless his/her email settings disable email notifications.)
  • You can like anyone’s updates on Facebook and Pinterest, favorite / star it on Twitter, “plus” it on Google Plus and your like won’t be sharedwith your friends in their streams (but is most likely it will add to your friend’s update rating which means, more people will be able to see it). In most cases, your likes can also be accessed using a separate feed:
    • For Facebook, your like is visible on your public profile: facebook.com/username
    • For Twitter, that’s twitter.com/username/favorites
    • For Google Plus, that’s plus.google.com/XXXXXXXXXXX/plusones (this one is private for other users except for the author)
    • For Pinterest, that’s pinterest.com/yourusername/pins/?filter=likes

You can share your friend’s (or any public) update on Facebook and Google Plus, retweet it on Twitter (proper-Twitter-retweet; don’t confuse it with DIY RT retweet that works like a regular tweet) and re-pin it on Pinterest. In all the cases, your update will be shared with your followers and friends via their news streams. With Twitter, your followers will see it as coming from the original Twitter poster (that’s something many people fail to understand).

To make the long story short, here’s an infographic explaining the difference:

Life os a social media update

Digging Deeper: Who Sees What

So we have already figured what gets posted to your public stream (updates and shares), what gets to a separate feed (favorites and likes) and what remains between you and the poster (comments). Now, who actually sees your stream?

  • On Facebook and Google Plus: Your stream is available to your friends and the rest of the world (unless you block that from your privacy settings or when posting an update).
  • On Twitter, you cannot set a separate tweet to be private – you can only limit access to your whole stream. Note: For direct replies (starting with @username) the update is limited to the user you are addressing it to and your common friends (all the rest of your followers won’t see it unless they go directly to your profile)
  • On Pinterest, each update goes to the public stream. So far, there’s no way to create a private board to limit access to the unregistered users or non-friends.

Here’s another graph that would probably make things harder, but there’s no easy way to describe where your social media update could travel:

The journey of tweet
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by GDS Infographics