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Twitter is a Complete Waste of Time!

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Every time I’ve written about Twitter (or FriendFeed or most other social media) I see comments left saying ‘Twitter is a waste of time’.

My response is simple – yes it is.

Twitter is a waste of time…. unless you use it in a way that isn’t.

  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like blogging can be a waste of time.
  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like going to conferences and talking to people face to face can be a waste of time.
  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like other micro-blogging/life streaming/social messaging tools like Plurk and FriendFeed.
  • Twitter can be a waste of time just like talking on the phone can be a waste of time.

I would argue that there’s never been a type of communication invented that can’t be used in a way that is a waste of time.

The key is the way you use it.

Twitter can be beneficial to bloggers in many ways (I’ve written 9 ways that Twitter benefits me here) but the key is to work out how you want it to benefit you and to go about using the tool (and it’s nothing more than a tool) in a way that takes you a step closer to it paying off in those ways.

If you’re just on Twitter because everyone else is and you’re using it in an unfocused way then you’re unlikely to see it as anything more than a waste of time.

I would also add that I don’t think Twitter is ever going to be something that everyone should use.

The way people talk about Twitter (or any other type of social media tool) sometimes reminds me of how people used to talk about Blogging.

Four or Five years ago I heard people speaking about blogging as though it’s the answer to every problem that a company or individual might have with their online presence. It was claimed that blogging could do almost everything and fix any issue you faced. The truth is that blogging can be great but it’s not right for every situation. The same is true for Twitter.

It takes a certain type of personality to click with Twitter and it will only ever meet some of your needs and even then, only if you’re smart about it.

If not, it could well be a waste of time!

A Question to Ask about Your Use of Any Medium

When looking at Twitter, or any medium for that matter, the question to ponder early on is ‘what are my goals?’ Once you have them nailed down you then have a framework to begin to think about how you’ll use it and how you measure whether it’s a worthwhile medium to use.

So what are your goals for Twitter?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. INconstantIN says:

    I perfectly agree upon that. There were several examples when I got posts ideas from those I follow on Twitter. It always depends on the way you manage to use the opportunities it hides.

  2. I felt the same way but then I couldnt understand its popularity so I did some digging around and realized the key lies in using what it has to offer to your advantage

    I’ve compiled a list of how Twitter is-used/can-be-used to give value to the user:
    http://sachendra.wordpress.com/2008/04/04/why-we-tweet-what-value-does-twitter-bring-on-personal-and-business-front/

    And how Twitter tools can be used to improve the twittering experience:
    http://sachendra.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/improve-your-twitter-experience-with-these-tools/

  3. I still think it’s a waste of time, but I signed up anyway. But who knows, maybe I’ll get it some day. Thanks for the tip…

  4. ulla says:

    Darren,
    I actully like the title of the post! I am using twitter and I find it useful for me. I am following about 20 people who focus either on writing, blogging in general or taking photos and writing. With twitter I very quickly get informations about new postings or new photos at Flickr, and I use it for informing about my new posts. twitter ist just a tool – and you can use tools for useful things and just to play around.

  5. Michael says:

    I completely agree with you, Twitter is of a waste of time, but isn’t TV, Radio, and the Internet. I’m glad that you realize that Twitter can be incredibly useful as well, just like TV, Radio, and the Internet.

    I just wish more people would realize this, Twitter is a great tool for communication, when the telephone was invented people thought it was dumb and just like that Twitter is thought to be dumb by many, they’ll learn, eventually.

  6. Elit Alice says:

    id love to use twitter as other bloggers do, i did register, but i just have nothing to say! i simply cant force myself to wash my personal life together with my blog. i dont feel comfortable with it, i want my personal life for myself, no matter how big part m blog is playing in it.
    so all i could twitter about is useless stuff liek hoho the blog is updated!
    so as much as i understand how useful it could be to make connections with others, its never gonna work for me, and probably one of the reasons why im never gonna be out of the b-list category is my lack of personal addition. but oh well. i couldnt do any other way. im happy as it is. :)

  7. Lee Odden says:

    We’ve run a “Twitter Waste of Time or Great Tool?” survey and of the 200 plus responses so far, it’s pretty close with 58% voting that Twitter is a great tool and 42% voting it a waste of time. See the live poll here: http://tinyurl.com/576cpd

  8. blog4net says:

    twitter is still young and many people are really getting crazy with it because till now there was no medium which was letting them express what they are doing at a point of time in such short sentences. The servers are jamming at times. Let another year pass, majority of the crazy people will slow down or go off twittering.

    That’s when the real power of twitter comes out thanks to those who have been using it responsibly and the way it should be right from the beginning.

    people are so crazy that i dont think even this article will change them.. people are crazy to get followers, to follow and to post so many twitters.. etc..

  9. Kelvin Kao says:

    Twitter can be a waste of time, just like watching baseball can be a waste of time (to some people). BUT, I love baseball and I love Twitter. If something makes me happy, it’s not entirely a waste of time. True, I might not be productive in that time but who’s to say that something is either productive or then it’s a waste of time?

  10. I like the way I am presented with a random selection of choices at any given moment on twitter.

    I can add a link or follow a link from someone who I trust to give good links, ask or answer a question, or simply chat.

    It’s free so what’s the beef with this?

  11. Squeaky says:

    I have used Twitter for a few months now and I just don’t get it. Seems like you have to have a lot of friends in order for it to work for ya. For me being a directory and blog owner, just doesn’t work for me, but maybe I am missing something.

  12. Jack says:

    Here is another great article I read about how Twitter and other forms of microblogging can benefit your business:
    http://www.metaspring.com/blog/marketing/5-ways-business-embrace-microblogging/

    It truly all depends on the way you use it.

  13. Dan says:

    Twitter isn’t a waste of time.. Its a tool:

    You can use it to control your Mac, send mass txt messages to large groups of people quickly and easily, and many other features.

    http://www.maciverse.com/control-your-mac-with-twitter.html

  14. Reginald says:

    Thanks for the article.

    I have the very same impression about twitter and other social networking sites.

    Hence, I appreciate you providing the extra related twitter articles at the bottom of this one.

    By the time I have read all these articles, my perceptions of twitter and other social networking sites will not be so negative.

    Thanks for the information.

  15. Syed Balkhi says:

    I agree with you Darren. Twitter is only a waste of time if you consider it to be a waste of time. I joined twitter and I am enjoying every bit of it.

  16. Dee Stewart says:

    Twitter is a great tool. I use it at my blog to promote new books that have come in, book deals, time sensitive discounts, and casting calls.

    Last week I used Twitter to promote an online writer’s conference i was teaching with a host of published authors and editors. Some of our registrants came to us via Twitter.

    This Monday I will be using it as the second installment of Christian Fiction Blog’s Book Promotion Experiment. We tried in January with an author’s book. She said she received some traffic to her site and a few book sales, which is a great, if Twitter can translate into product sales. That’s a free form of marketing. We will try it again this Monday as a part of a blog tour. Two published authors and myself will chat about the book. This weekend we will invite our mailing list to join Twitter and participate.

    I also use Twitter to alert my clients(I am also a publicist) fanbase to their whereabouts. They can stay intouch via their cellphone. I am liking it more.

    My only drawback is that its popularity is hurting their servers. Lately Twitter has been unreliable. I’ve been playing around with Yahoo Messenger to drive my Twits there when the site is down so that we can chat. I hope we don’t have to do that on Monday.

    In short, I think if you’re creative and can move people from one destination to the next they will follow you on Twitter and elsewhere.

    My Twitter username is deegospel

  17. Donna says:

    As per the link to my website, I just published an article on, 5 Good Reasons to Use Twitter for Business and Personal Use. The power behind Twitter is in the apps and the creative or focused use behind it. Not to mention I have one problogger feed on mine. :-)

  18. Chris Hough says:

    I disagree. Twitter has helped me to keep an online blog like no platform has allowed me to do in the past. It is simple, quick and effective. I think Twitter is a powerful client and for those of us who can’t spend hours crafting a well written blog post, its a great tool.

  19. Darren, you’re right on the money when you say that Twitter can be misused and it can also be used in a good way. Just like almost everything else in the world. I’d like to find something that doesn’t have a potentially negative use. Pretty close to impossible in my opinion.

  20. zayıflama says:

    I’ve invited my blog readers to follow me. Also, since my business is national in nature, following and being followed by those in my business has already yielded gold — both literally and in ideas.

    Now all we have to do is get twitter to be reliable. My understanding is their newest capital injection will result in exactly that.

  21. GettyCash says:

    Some people think it is waste of time but some people found that Twitter is a useful tool for them.

  22. I didn’t see the potential of Twitter at first and didn’t use it for a a long time after signing up. But once I started following other bloggers and members in my niche, I started to see the potential not only to provide updates about new content on my blog, but to give readers a personal connection with me that they probably would not get otherwise. I put a
    “Follow me on Twitter” button in my sidebar last week, and my following has increased, so I’m going to keep using it and see where it takes me.

  23. Ian Cowley says:

    There are many useful ways to use Twitter for business. Here’s great 18 ways to use it: http://tinyurl.com/62gvxt

  24. Franz says:

    There’s an actual voting-site about this:
    http://isusingtwitternothingmorethanawasteoftime.com

  25. When any new technology is introduced everyone freaks out. Yea, sure we might get a little distracted by it, but we’ll all grow up and move on.

    If you’re going to procrastinate and not do what you should be doing you’ll find a way to do it.

    Twitter isn’t a waste of time, its a way to waste time, just like, SMS, email, facebook, talking to friends, eating a pie, going for a walk…

  26. zayıflama says:

    Thanks Darren. You made my day with this post.

  27. Darren,
    Great post, and great comments. I sent some to my journalist sister.
    I initially signed up for twitter and didn’t use it that much other than to send out tweets to fans/friends about upcoming shows. But now i use it for various things……including linking to my site.
    After reading Darren’s blogs i’ve adopted a more mature way of twittering……at least me thinks.
    Basically, if people want to “waste” time on twitter, then they should do it with gusto, and if they want to use it to educate themselves……they should do that.
    It is like any great thing……….it can be used for good, or evil!!
    Kevin

  28. Tanya Ryno says:

    The problem with Twitter is that it REALLY can be a waste of time because (for the most part) it’s a one way street. Unfortunately most people aren’t using it for work or for research, communications, etc. Truth is most people are using Twitter to follow people that aren’t following them.

  29. florentino says:

    I feel TWITTER and BLOGGING and ALL of the Internet
    time consuming. Im really only taking a moment to type this. Im 52 we NEVER had this stuff with technology in my fun young years in the 70′s and 80′s. Its was exciting just to to hear about the first PAGER. We had more social skills, we called people on a phone and sent cards and handwritten letters. Sad how technology has that bad edge. Doctors say that people are more overweight than ever I blame it on all this constant need to have to only be in touch by internet. Remember walking to see Johnny down the street, or a group riding bikes to the beach, time was better spent on things that meant something. We SIT and blog, we SIT and Twitter. People are more into this stuff than spending time getting healthy or having a good life. Why do you need to tell people what your doing all day long. Maybe im old fashioned but i could care less if i use a cell phone or even use the computer…..well im off to write a letter and see how my heirloom tomatoes are growing……