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Twitter still several plays ahead when it comes to real-time

06 Feb 2014
By Iain

If last year’s introduction of hashtags and the more recent addition of its ‘Trending’ feature are anything to go by, Facebook is determined to convince users and advertisers that it’s a credible alternative to Twitter for real-time conversations.


Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was seen by many commentators as an important battleground in the ongoing fight for real-time supremacy, so how did the two platforms stack up?

– Danny Sullivan reported that Hashtags were used in 57% of Super Bowl ads, up from 50% last year

– 30 ads used a hashtag but didn’t mention Facebook or Twitter

– Facebook was mentioned in 5 ads

– Twitter was mentioned in 4 ads

It’s interesting that Facebook was mentioned in more ads than Twitter. That said, Twitter has popularised hashtags to the point where most people associate the phrase with the social network*. Facebook and hashtags are not yet this closely associated in people’s minds, so it’s possible that the 30 ads that used a hashtag but didn’t mention Twitter, did so because they didn’t need to.

What’s more, Forbes reported that 29 of the ‘top 100 brands’ (as determined by Interbrand) used Twitter for real-time marketing during Sunday’s game – up dramatically from only 8 last year. The number of brands that used Facebook for real-time marketing was not only much lower, but was down on last year.

Personally – I turn to Twitter for all my real-time requirements. Last night for example, when I wanted to know why there were hundreds of people screaming on Camden High Street, a Twitter search gave me the answer in seconds (turns out Prince was playing at the Electric Ballroom).

A quick straw poll of the atoms shows I’m not alone. Everyone I spoke to uses Twitter for both real time news searches and as their ‘second-screen’ when they want to keep track of what people are saying about the TV programmes they watch.

“I always use Twitter, it’s much easier to search”

So who’s ahead in the battle for real-time supremacy? The answer, it seems, is much clearer than my understanding of American football.

*Facebook copies Twitter yet again, launches hashtags to let users add context and discover shared interests –

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