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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 Twitter.com 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 Twitter.com 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….

All in all I’m continuing to see the fruits of investing time and effort into both Twitter and Blogging. What about you?

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. Gemma Went says:

    I’m a new user of Twitter and already can see the benefits. I do think, however, that it should be a tool that supports your other activities, namely your Blog.

  2. The best description I have heard of the relationship between Twitter and blogging is to look at Twitter as the party where you go to meet people. Once you meet those people, you invite them to your home which is your blog. I wish I could remember where I read this to give that person credit.

  3. Agent SEO says:

    I think blogging is more about driving sustained traffic and the articles should be well thought out so that they hold strong over years and not just days or seconds…

    Twitter is more for quick blurbs…its kind of like the 5-hour energy drink in comparison to blogs

  4. tim says:

    I was pondering the difference of follower numbers on your problogger and digitalps twitter accounts. One thing I noticed was that on the problogger account, there seems to be more human activity (you actually post comments and links) whereas on the digitalps there is more automatic updates from the blog.

    Just a thought.

  5. I am just getting the hang of twitter and find it very fun to use at times. It can easily make you get carried away tweeting things and reading posts that other people tweet. I am not too familiar with the retweet task and am not sure if I know how to retweet anything. Blogging is better (at least currently) because it allows me to get more in-depth and offer detailed posts which works for me because I usually need more than 140 characters to post most of the topics that I write on.

    Since I post on movies, what would a film festival screening look like on twitter? It would be a mess so blogging has an important place online.

  6. Belkis says:

    Blogging should always be a number one priority. Twitter and other social media tools just gives you another way to driver traffic to your site which is the whole point of having followers. Sometimes I think people forget this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reinforcing mine.

  7. J. Money says:

    I’m all about the twitter. if you have a nice site like I do (personal finance), twitter allows you to be more free and add some more personality behind the blogger….it also allows me to say random comments just for the hell of it ;)

  8. Solving Problems with Twitter (A mini case-study)

    This is not about the “Plane Down on the Hudson” or the “China Earthquake” kind of “moment,” but, nevertheless, this is an example of how Twitter helped us solve a problem we had run into in Mexico almost as quickly as it came up:

    http://www.nearsoft.com/ns/blog/Twitter-and-Yammer-at-Work.html

  9. Both have their uses. I use Twitter for social networking, and blogging to share my views/ideas/teach my customers/etc.

    My son recently had a tick on his neck – a simple tweet for help gave me lots of suggestions on what to do. Couldn’t have done that with me blog.

  10. Viraal says:

    Well I believe that, although, both blogging and twitter have their own strengths and weaknesses. I do have a feeling that twitter has an edge above blogging due to its inherent strength of getting followers very quickly.

    A blogger might have to face with those days where he might face blackouts and does not have anything to share but while using Twitter I haven’t faced such an issue. There is always something to share. Also, it can help you to engage in real time conversation with your followers which is a better experience than replying comments on the blog.

  11. I suck at Twitter. Seriously. I find that social networking in general is something I really have to work hard at because I am not a social person by nature and putting out the effort to be is exhausting to me. Twitter is more difficult that most for me to keep the conversation up because of the url shortening thing. I’ve worked in tech way too long to go clicking on links without being able to tell where they go – so I don’t … which means I’m not commenting on things people post referring to them.

    Of course, it could just be my age ;) I don’t ‘text’ either.

    Blogs… that’s the bread and butter right there. Articles, well thought out or spontaneous, filled with deep contemplation or mild bits of insanity, that’s where I enjoy spending time.

  12. jan says:

    @Nicole Hernandez:

    “I’ve worked in tech way too long to go clicking on links without being able to tell where they go – so I don’t … which means I’m not commenting on things people post referring to them.”

    You can use Tweetree. It displays shortened URLs in full below the twit. You can thus see beforehand if what you’re about to click is of great interest to you or not.

    In my experience with Twitter, I have yet to meet a user who posts link with malice or bad intention. Otherwise, he or she can only hurt his reputation or brand.

    Of course, you can just test the waters by following people you personally know or individuals who have unassailable reputation online. And take it from there – adding occasionally people recommended to you by people you trust.

  13. ITrush says:

    Blogging takes all my time also and next is tweeting..

  14. Pushkar says:

    Twitter is very useful for those who have large following, but for others with very little following it isn’t the most useful tool. Also your country of origin or region plays a big role as your blogs are more focussed to a particular region. Twitter is good for European & US blogs not for others due to limited number of twitter users in other parts of world.

  15. As you said and also rohit agree that both media have their own advantages.
    I thought, The blogging work well only when blogger have good immediate reply that not happen with all blogger except many include you too.
    So to say that both have its advantage and disadvantage vary from person to person.

  16. @jan

    That would definitely make me feel more comfortable using it, but they seriously need to build in a way to have one link display without regard to the character count.

    On the trust issue I was thinking more in terms of the rare people who will purposely send out malicious links, and the inevitable which is that somebody creates a virus that spreads itself by tweeting shortened links. Things like twhirl are installed software, and we all know what has happened in the past with viruses and installed email programs.

  17. When I check my stats I think I might get 2 or 3 people a month coming to visit any of my sites via twitter. Granted I don’t spend all day spamming it, nor do I have thousands of followers but if I had to rely on twitter for traffic I’d just give up.

    I’d be interested to know how many people have actually used twitter as their primary means of developing traffic as opposed to adding on to what they already have. Nothing wrong with doing that I’m just wondering how effective twitter is for getting the marketing engine rolling from a “dead stop”

  18. Darren,

    Thanks for the post. I like blogging better because this takes more time and is, thus, more thought out. I find blogging easier to convey my thoughts than Twitter. I like Twitter, though, to tweet out blogs I am reading, such as yours. Keep up the solid work.

  19. Moise Levi says:

    Ok people ; first, the facts ;
    I am NOT a tech expert like those you can find at techcrunch, engadget, gizmodo, and others.
    I have been blogging for years ; now on blogger (owned by Google) (GOOG) , and in the past via Geocities.
    Blogging is quite simple ; you open an account via Google’s gmail, then it allows you to create a blog via Blogger. It only takes around 15 minutes. Then ? you can start to set up the “monetize” button by adding ads sold by Google. You get a free blog ; you do all the writing, and Google sells you adspace and makes all the money :)
    Advertisers today prefer to see their ads on niche blogs rather than buying key words …..
    It makes sense ….. that is why most of the ads on my blogs relate to finance :)
    Now comes Facebook ….. and Twitter ….
    But let’s see how Facebook is quietly taking over ……
    I have been using Facebook for a while now and I finally see what they are REALLY doing.
    A few days ago, they once again changed their format.
    The blog you are reading here can be seen on my Facebook account (seen only by my friends), with ads ONLY belonging to Facebook….
    In the past, the RSS feed into Facebook was only uploading my posts in a simple format.
    Now these posts are available with ads from Facebook.
    I Tweet as well on Twitter ; guess what ? My Tweets go to my profile on Facebook, and you can add your comments on my profile …… you can also comment my Alpha Global posts ….

    Bottom line ?
    The blogger creates the content via Blogger and Twitter
    The content goes straight to Facebook …. and the advertisers know that a person on Facebook spends more time there than on Google search ????

    With all the applications available on Facebook, why do you need to go elsewhere ?

    Like I said, I am not a tech expert, but Google (GOOG) is facing some real challenge here.
    And the blogger ? he/she does not make a penny by driving content to Facebook

    As of today, I STOPPED uploading my contents (Blogger and Twitter) to my Facebook profile.

  20. I agree with you and wrote on the topic in a post called “Social Media Success Stories”. Essentially my blog was fed by Twitter retweets. Twitter is another channel to promote my thoughts and content. It’s been a lot of fun as well.
    @chadhorenfeldt

  21. I think for me, Blogging is much more important. Twitter does not help me to build trust with my clients. As an acupuncturists, people care less about one line ideas and links than explaining what is going on with my TCM philosophy, how to do some exercises, or choose some healthy food. Although, I recently read your post on Twitip about Tweeting for acupuncturist, I think that blogging for the moment, is more powerful because you can take you time to explain something.

  22. It’s like comparing lemons and oranges, the two are completely different, and Twitter in large part can really be an incredible distraction and waste of time.

  23. appleblogger says:

    i guess, twitter still famous. But people fine with blogging way.

  24. ECStewart says:

    I view Twitter & my blog (site) like tea & cake.

    Twitter is the watercooler where I have community tea. It’s when I invite them to my home for cake (blog/site) for consume meaty information.

    Thanks for the Tweetmeme button info -I’ll have to check that out.

  25. I think you hit the nail on the head. I don’t have much to add to this post. Twitter is fun, but blogging is fun too, and both serve a purpose unique to each other.