Twitter vs. Flickr a View Count Comparison

Twitter Rolls Out View Count on Tweets

Yesterday Twitter announced that they were adding view counts to tweets on Twitter. I thought I’d use this announcement to very unscientifically compare the number of views one of my photos received on Twitter vs. Flickr. While some might call this an “apples vs. oranges” comparison, and Flickr is admittedly more of a photography centric social network, I find that I engage with photographers on both platforms, even if I also engage with more non-photographers on Twitter.

A few notes on my unscientific test. Interestingly enough I have about the same number of followers on both platforms. As of today I have 50,211 followers on Twitter and 53,363 followers on Flickr. I’ve been active on both platforms for well over a decade. I joined Twitter in 2006 and Flickr in 2004. I use both networks daily, although I’d say I’ve been much more active on Flickr over the years.

After almost 24 hours of posting the two exact same photos at the same time (on a Thursday evening) on both networks the results are in.

Twitter views: 5,010

Flickr views: 2,496

Oddly, Twitter generated almost exactly 2x as many views as the exact same photo on Flickr.

Views on Twitter vs Flickr
Views on Flickr vs Twitter

There are other metrics to look at as well.

Likes on Twitter: 75

Favorites on Flickr: 176

Comments on Twitter: 9

Comments on Flickr 18

The Twitter photo also got six retweets (Flickr doesn’t have retweets).

I’m not sure exactly what any of this means other than while my photo got 2x the number of views on Twitter, it also got 2x the amount of engagement on Flickr (as measured by likes and comments).

I didn’t do anything special to promote either of the two photos myself other than engage in the comments on each as I normally would. Other than posting a link in my Flickr group American Photographer, I didn’t post anywhere else on either link. I also put the photo into the pool in American photographer and added it to other groups as invited on Flickr (I would normally do this anyways).

I should also add that I don’t know exactly what constitutes a “view” on either platform. I’m assuming that both platforms apply the term as liberally as possible and it’s meant to mean any time your photo was seen anywhere on either site on a computer, tablet, or phone screen.

Update: a day after I wrote this blog post, the photo in this blog post hit Flickr’s popular Explore page where Flickr each day prominently features 500 photographs from the site. This caused this photo’s view count to rocket higher on Flickr.

As of this morning the view count comparison now stands at:

Flickr: 14,860

Twitter: 5,995

I do regularly have photos featured in this popular area of Flickr. Since I’ve been using Flickr, in fact, 963 of my photos have been featured in Explore.

Is Twitter Afraid of FriendFeed?

Is Twitter Afraid of FriendFeed?

Disclaimer: If you are not familiar with FriendFeed this post may not make so much sense to you. If you are familiar with FriendFeed, congrats to you, you’re on the cutting edge. If you’re not familiar with Twitter, what the hell rock have you been hiding under, time to stop taking so many photos and spend a little time on the internets no?

An interesting post over on FriendFeed by Steve Gillmor asking a simple question, "what is the delay between tweets and arrival in FriendFeed?" Steve is talking about how long it takes for a Friendfeed user’s tweets on twitter to show up on FriendFeed. It’s not the first time that Gillmor’s raised this issue.

For those of you unfamiliar with FriendFeed, it is the current mother of all aggregators. It %*$*%ing rocks. FriendFeed pipes in all of your various playgrounds on the internet (Twitter, Flickr, Zooomr, Google Reader, your blog, Digg, Delicious, Reddit, etc. etc. etc.) into one easy to consume feed. It’s been the most interesting thing to come out for a while. It’s a better way to follow your flickr contacts, a better RSS reader than anything else you might be using right now, and one of the best communities currently on the web.

FriendFeed also though is probably the closet thing Twitter has to a real and viable competitor. As a photographer, the simple fact that FriendFeed offers visuals whereas Twitter is entirely text based alone is enough for me to call FriendFeed the superior platform. Essentially you can do anything on FriendFeed that you can do on Twitter but, well, better. In addition to posting real time post updates on FriendFeed (that are not limited to 140 characters) you get a far more complete run down on what your friends are up to.

The thing is though, one of the things that makes FriendFeed work so well is that you can leverage the existing larger communities elsewhere on the web at places like Flickr and Twitter. This is all possible because of cool things like open APIs and the whole culture of sharing kumbaya stuff that Web 2.0 (for lack of a better name) is supposed to be about. All our data belongs to us. All our data ought to be portable. Companies are able to thrive in 2.0 because they put our (the producers) best interests above theirs. You know the speech.

Unfortunately though, one thing that I’ve noticed in the past month is that my tweets that used to be instantaneously posted from Twitter to FriendFeed seem to be slowing down sometimes. I’m not sure why this is, but a part of me worries that maybe Twitter is doing something to slow down the firehose from Twitter to Friendfeed because they are afraid of FriendFeed as a competitor.

Last month Dave Winer suggested that the reason that FF isn’t overtly challenging Twitter right now is because if they do, "they might find their firehose slows down or develops gltches it didn’t used to have." And, well, that’s what it feels like may be happening. Do keep in mind that Winer did not accuse Twitter of this or any other wrong doing, he merely suggested it as a huge "if" as a possible scenario.

Now I have no idea if the reason why tweets do not seem to be posting as fast to FriendFeed as they used to has anything to do with Twitter. For all I know there could be a technical problem on FriendFeed’s end causing this. But I think the fact that tweets have slowed down on FriendFeed deserves a conversation about the causes.

Of course two of the things that may raise FriendFeed as a greater competitor in the eyes of Twitter could be the recent move that FriendFeed made to allow people to auto subscribe to their Twitter contacts on FriendFeed and to automatically post their FriendFeed postings to their Twitter accounts. Every one of these FriendFeed updates posted to Twitter includes a link back to FriendFeed. This is probably a very useful tool for constantly reminding the Twitter community that a better way to do lifestreaming exists over at FriendFeed.

As an interesting side note, Robert Scoble suggests that in Twitter’s recent move to begin "suggesting" Twitter users to new and existing subscribers that they seem to have bypassed the two FriendFeed users with the most followers, Scoble himself and Leo Laporte. Both of these users have been active on FriendFeed and Scoble probably more than any single other person has been instrumental in promoting FriendFeed as a service online. "I think Twitter is being threatened by friendfeed. The two most popular users of friendfeed (Leo and me) were left off of the twitter recommended friends list over on Twitter," says Scoble in the Gillmor’s thread.

If you’d like to follow my updates on FriendFeed you can do that here. If you’d like to follow my updates on Twitter you can do that here too.