Twitter announced the upcoming release of its new profile pages today, which will offer you more space for photos and for more types of personal information. Mashable summarized it well: “Overall, Twitter’s new profile pages are better-looking than their predecessors, but the reliance on large pictures and really large fonts is a bit overwhelming.”
They also, and this can’t be denied, look a lot like Facebook’s profile pages. The sarcastic comments are rolling in: “Facebook much?” “this looks familiar” and “the new Twitter profile pages look awfully familiar…” just to quote a few. Om Malik goes all the way and says: “the grand Twitter quest to be Facebook is finally complete.”
While this may be true in regards to profile pages, I still think that the major product differences between the two social behemoths are in the news feed and not the profile. The news feed is the product, and the profile plays a very minor role. The sentiment is best expressed by Mat Honan: “Sure, I like my new profile page, but when do you ever look at someone’s Twitter profile?” Yes, the profile page has importance for brands, celebrities and new users and it’s great that Twitter is providing these groups with a better platform, but that doesn’t turn Twitter into Facebook!
I feel that users spend more time in the news feed than on profile pages by far (I wish I could find a source or stat for this) and it is the news feed and how we control it that offer the major difference between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter shows you everything that everyone you follow has posted and it’s up to you to filter it, make lists and otherwise narrow it down. Facebook, on the other hand, completely controls its news feed and it alone decides what to show you. The news feed algorithm is just as complex and sophisticated as Google’s search algorithm and can be a real source of frustration when users feel they’re not seeing what they want to see.
So Twitter, by all means, make your profile pages friendlier to celebrities and brands and make it easier for all users to find new people to follow. Just don’t start playing with the news feed.