15 March 2009

Blogging Tips : Blogging vs Twitter [A few Random Thoughts on the Two Mediums]

On Twitter yesterday Yaro asked me whether I like Twitter more than Blogging.

My reply was of course limited to 140 characters and as a result not overly comprehensive:

“no I like blogging more than Twitter but Twitter is fun and a useful part of the mix of what I do - both have their place”

I thought perhaps it was a topic worth expanding upon here on ProBlogger. While I’ve shifted most of my blogging about Twitter to TwiTip I thought it might be worth sharing a few of the thoughts on how I’m using Twitter here on ProBlogger.

What follows is both a more extended answer to Yaro (and others) but also a collection of thoughts on my experiences of working with Twitter over the last few months.

Blogging Remains My Primary Activity

While I tweet more often than I post to my blog - my blogs remain my primary focus and what I spend most time building.

It may not always seem like it when you look at the 20+ tweets that I produce a day on my twitter account but when you consider that a tweet takes seconds to write and a post can take hours - the blogs I run do take considerably more of my time and focus to produce.

My thinking around this is something that I’ve talked about previously in my description of how I use social media as outposts as opposed to my blog which I see as a home base.

In essence my use of twitter is something I do as a support to my blogging.

I guess the question will come at some point whether I will need to change this approach a little when my Twitter follower numbers go past my blog reader numbers. I suspect my approach won’t change at this point - however it’ll probably present some interesting challenges in working out priorities.

Blogging and Twitter have Different Strengths

Having said that blogging is my primary focus it is increasingly obvious to me that both mediums have their own strengths and that Twitter is able to achieve things that blogging can not (at least for me).

The immediacy of Twitter and the fact that it is a network that can spread word of a story, idea, question or thought quickly around the world to many thousands of people very quickly makes it unique.

For example one of the main ways that I find Twitter useful is getting quick feedback or answers to questions from a diverse group of people. While you can get similar feedback from a blog post Twitter is much faster. On the other hand a blog lends itself more to discussions among readers that are a little more considered, in depth and interactive (between those responding).

Blog are also great for more in depth posts. This post is a perfect illustration of this - when Yaro asked me his question on Twitter I had 140 characters to sum up a lot of different thoughts and experiences and ended up not really saying a lot whereas this post is able to explore the topic in depth.

While some people see the strengths of one and the weaknesses of the other as reason to choose between Blogging and Twitter - I’ve come to see the power of using both in tandem. The key is to know what you’re trying to achieve with your online presences and to understand what each medium can do to help you achieve this.

Twitter and Driving Traffic

I’ve written previously about the topic of Twitter driving traffic to a blog and each time have talked about how much traffic ProBlogger gets directly from Twitter. The figures have increased each time I’ve written on the topic as my own follower numbers grow and of late the numbers have continued to grow considerably.

My Google Analytics stats show that is now the 3rd largest referrer of traffic to this blog (only behind Google and Direct Traffic). This probably sounds a little more impressive than it is - overall it sends around 4% of my traffic (Google is 46% and Direct Traffic is 21%). This doesn’t count traffic arriving from Twitter applications - so the figure is probably closer to 10%.

My other two blogs illustrate that Twitter’s ability to send traffic is varied depending upon your site. TwiTip has over 16% of its traffic directly from and Digital Photography School gets 0.34% of its traffic from Twitter (although my DPS Twitter account has considerably less followers).

Twitter is Quick but Takes More Time to Use Well as Follower Numbers Grow

Actually tweeting on twitter is a relatively quick and easy process. I’ve used a variety of tools in my use of Twitter that have helped me manage the process really well - however as my number of followers has grown so does the amount of time needed to manage the account - at least if I want to remain interactive and engaging.

The number of @replies and DMs that one gets as follower numbers goes up also rises and there comes a point where a Twitter user needs to decide how interactive that they can be.

As I write this my follower numbers are just over 42,500 - to this point I still read all replies and DMs but it is becoming more and more challenging to do and I’m aware that I’m going to have to make some tough choices in the coming weeks and months if the number increases as it has.

The ReTweet is Powerful

The practice of ‘ReTweeting’ has really come into its own over the last 6 months. While people have always ‘re tweeted’ what others have tweeted - a lot more tools and services have risen up around the practice of late. Some see retweeting as a measure of authority of a twitter user - I’ve personally been more interested in its viral nature, particularly when your link is the one being retweeted.

If a link gets retweeted widely it can drive many many thousands of visitors to a blog post.

In the last few months we’ve seen more and more bloggers adding retweet buttons to their blogs in a similar way to how social media buttons are often added to blogs - I’ve done it on TwiTip with a button from Tweetmeme which has worked well but I suspect we’ll see more and more tools released.

Usefulness Remains the Key to Both Mediums

I can’t stress it enough - the key to both success in both mediums is to become the most useful resource that you can to those who you come into contact with online. Solve problems, meet needs, connect with people where they are at and both mediums will come into their own for you.

All in All….

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