Comparing Facebook data with Twitter TWTR +0.31% data is both enjoyable and pointless, much like social mediaitself. The two social networks have wildly divergent user totals (1.3 billion versus 255 million), and those users interact with each other in substantially different ways (posts, likes and comments versus tweets, retweets and favorites) and over different time intervals (hours and days versus seconds and minutes).
So if I tell you that there were 3 billion total interactions about the World Cup on Facebook over the 32 days of the tournament, versus 672 million tweetsabout it during the same period, does that tells us anything worth knowing?
Not a lot. But narrowing the focus somewhat might. One place that the usage patterns on the two platforms diverged interesting was in which match saw the most activity.
On Facebook, the final between Germany and Argentina was the most talked about fixture of the tournament, with 88 million people worldwide combining for 280 million interactions. (Again, that includes posts, likes and comments.) The U.S. led the world in talking about the match, with 10.5 million people participating, followed by Brazil (10 million) and Argentina (7 million).
But on Twitter, the final was only the second-biggest match of the tournament. More people actually talked about the July 8 semifinal between Germany and Brazil, which generated 35.6 million tweets, versus 32.1 million for the final. (The next most tweeted-about match was Brazil-Chile on June 28, with 16.4 million.) In fact, Brazil-Germany was the most tweeted-about sporting event ever, beating the 24.9 million tweets from the most recent Super Bowl.
Why did the semifinal outdraw the final on Twitter but not on Facebook? Sure, Brazil has far more Twitter users than Argentina — but that’s true for Facebook as well. Similarly, both sites see a sharp falloff in clicksover the weekend compared with weekdays.
I think the answer has to do with the nature of the two matches. The Brazil-Germany semifinal was exactly the sort of event Twitter was made for, a mixture of outrageous and boring. Think of this year’s Academy Awards, with the group selfie, or the presidential debate where Mitt Romney made his “binders full of women” gaffe. An event that provides easy fodder for humor or offense and then plenty of downtime to express it — those are the ingredients of a perfect tweet storm.
The final, on the other hand, was less a news event than a milestone, like a birthday or a wedding. Aside from one dramatic late goal, nothing particularly interesting happened. But, like a birthday or a wedding, even if people had nothing much to say about it, they wanted to say something anyway to acknowledge the occasion.
Twitter is where people go to talk about surprising, unexpected events as they’re unfolding. Facebook is where people go to record their feelings about big, shared milestones somewhat after the fact. The World Cup told us what we already know.
Authored by Jeff Bercovici via forbes.com.