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Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

This guest post is by Dona Collins of CreditLoan.com.

For anyone starting a revolution, or a business, Twitter can be a success. For the rest of the world, it can be a waste of time that doesn’t get the message out to people they want to reach. And for some, it’s no more a bunch of nonsense limited to 140 characters—as this infographic shows. I’ll discuss it in more detail below.

Twitter infographic: is Twitter a waste of time?

Is Twitter a waste of time?

Twitter was very popular during the crises in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen earlier this year as it worked to spread the word about where protesters could meet, and tell the world what was happening. Indeed, it and other social media platforms (mainly Facebook) have been attributed with helping to keep the revolutions moving.

Businesses also prosper from Twitter by keeping in constant contact with their customers—within limits. The Flowtown blog recommends posting tweets every few hours, not every few minutes, and planning promotions a few weeks out with videos and other links. Having conversations with customers on Twitter is better than preaching to them.

Most Twitter users spend their time on the service getting information about companies, with 42 percent learning about products and services, and 41 percent providing opinions about products and services. A good—and bad—point about Twitter is that 33 percent of its worldwide traffic is inside the United States. That’s great if you want to reach a global audience, but not so good if you only sell domestically.

Twitter, like Facebook, is also a popular way to learn about news. The death of Osama Bin Laden was all over social networks before news agencies reported it, and some Twitter users have used it as a way to report news live, before websites do.

Still, having thousands of followers may still be a colossal waste of time, especially since Facebook has three times as many accounts as Twitter, and 20 percent of Twitter’s users produce at least 80 percent of the site’s content. It looks like a few are preaching to the masses. Looking at the statistics, it seems that a lot of people get on Twitter and give it a try, then give up: 25 percent have no followers, about 20 percent have been followed by no more than 11 people, and only five percent have more than 50 followers.

As with any form of communication, how well you use Twitter will determine whether or not it’s a waste of your time. Blogger Darren Rowse says Twitter benefits him by acting as a research tool, expanding his personal brand, promoting content, and finding new readers, among other uses.

Twitter can definitely be a way to get things done. The UFL conducted its draft by live tweeting on Twitter. The United Football League isn’t as widely known as the NFL, but UFL coaches Dennis Green and Jerry Glanville make it a league worth following on Twitter with their updates on what their teams are doing.

Beware that famous people have been phished on Twitter, including people as disparate as President Obama and Miley Cyrus. Twitter, like any other website, can be hijacked by hackers. And remember, Twitter messages are archived and searchable, so anything you say is online forever. Just ask anyone who has been fired over a tweet.

Do you consider Twitter to be a waste of time?

Dona Collins, a part-time financial blogger, along with CreditLoan.com, helps to unravel these fascinating complexities.

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Comments

  1. Never say that TW is a waste of time…infact it gives you followers largely.

    • I agree with you Peter. I strongly believe that strategy is very important in having number of followers and if you don’t have It only mean that your strategy is not effective and you have to work some more.

  2. jezza101 says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Twitter seems like the Emperor’s new clothes to me!

    It seems that almost everything can be done better through different media:

    Want to reach out to an audience? I bet you’ll get more eyes on your message through email.
    Need to follow new posts from a website? RSS is fantastic at that already (in fact I tend to read the few Twitter feeds I follow in my RSS reader!).
    Want to stay in touch with friends? Facebook does that great – with some privacy too!
    Got something to say? Start a blog.
    Want to keep up to date with job opportunities? Use one of the excellent job boards.
    Need to know about special offers? Subscribe to company’s emails.

    I think about the real thing Twitter does better is using it for stalking celebrities! This is about the only media I can see any kind of dialog with Joe Public opening up.

    As much as I try (and I have tried!) I just can’t see that it offers more value that other forms of comunication. Twitter is fun but I’d rather have 1000 people on my mailing list or subscribed to my RSS feed than 1000 followers.

    Twitter messages just seems too transient.

    • J Marriott says:

      “Twitter is fun but I’d rather have 1000 people on my mailing list or subscribed to my RSS feed than 1000 followers.”

      I’d rather have both and 2000 followers. Seems an odd business decision to not reach out to as many potential customers /clients as possible.

      • Kazi says:

        I am fond of twitter. But trying to know appropriate way of enhance traffic in my site.

    • Jezza 101 (or should I write @Jezz101): I like your style. Your conclusions match mine. Well said. Are we renegades?

    • Twitter is an excellent communication tool. If used properly and responsibly it can be a viral marketing tool for reaching 1,000s of individuals quickly and efficiently. So use it wisely and carefully!

  3. Dina says:

    Twitter can be quite addictive. If you follow a lot of people, then your feed is constantly being updated, and there is such an urge to see what people are saying. For me, Twitter is not the social media tool that I use to keep in touch with friends and family. That is Facebook. Twitter is the social media I use to follow celebrities and persons of interest that I don’t personally know. Some examples are musicians, actors, political commentators, and people in the library field. I follow everyone from Chris Colfer (Glee) to Keith Olbermann to Stephen Abram. And its cool to be able to see what they’re saying. If feels so much more intimate than reading their words in a magazine. And even better, you can respond to what they’re saying. Maybe they’ll read it, maybe they won’t, but you have a better chance of someone reading one of your tweets than if you mailed them a letter. Twitter is also a way to connect with people who have similar interests. For example, when I develop an interest in a new musician, I can look on their feed and see who else is responding to their tweets, and sometimes I start following fellow fans. I am not Facebook friends with people that I don’t personally know, but I do follow people on twitter that I don’t personally know.

  4. ace says:

    I don’t understand it, to be honest with you. I don’t have the time to do it. There are a million things you can do with your life other than that. You have way too much time if you have time to play around with twitter,

  5. Andy Walpole says:

    I love this line in the infographic: 45% of the mass communications posted are nonsense

    That’s almost at the same level as “56% of statistics are made up”

  6. John Royle says:

    We don’t think it’s a waste of time. In fact we have just produced a free eBook called “A Business Guide to Twitter”. You can download it from http://glanton.com and don’t worry, you don’t have to sign-up, subscribe or give us any personal info.

    Hope you find it useful.

    John Royle

  7. fjpoblam says:

    Sure, I listen to several news feeds on Twitter. They’re valuable. But I also look for conversation. I follow several folks hoping for @ replies. If I don’t receive replies to my tweets, I regularly prune my followings and drop silent partners. Quality, not quantity. I have about 150 followings and about 100 followers. (I’ve neglected to prune recently.)

  8. Saskia Eaton says:

    I’m new to the whole twitter thing. I must admit that I find twitter WAY more informative than I thought I would. I don’t generally have the time or the patience to trawl the internet for interesting information, but I do find that by being selective with the people that I follow on twitter I am able to keep track of current happenings and find information relative to my life and my business.

  9. Glynis Jolly says:

    Yes, I do think both Twitter and Facebook are a waste of time. I prefer the forums myself. I can get to know people without necessarily reading their blogs. I can make the decision from the forums whether I want to subscribe to their blogs or not.

    With that said, I do use both social sites to get info. about people. I use it to contact people I can’t seem to find an email address for.

  10. Is Twitter a waste of time!!
    Thats a real hard question and i can break in down in 2 sections

    ~ when twitter first started i was on it everyday and it seemed like an amazing place from where to direct huge amaounts of traffic to my affiliate pages!
    I then meet a guy with some awesome software to automate my twitter accounts 100% on autoplit.

    I used the software to put me on the top of the GDI affiliates leaderboard for weeks with some very nice commission.

    Once twitter cottoned on to people using these tactics they stopped all automation of that kind.

    I then did it all by hand as on one account i had 90k followers,
    They then shut my account down.

    I tried to start again with twitter but they seem to make it harder and harder to build.

    Im not a fan of twitter for use of socialising and sharing content, its very hit and miss and seems like a lot if effort for very little outcome.

    Right having said that, what i love about twitter is the blog updates running to my accounts, everytime i update my wordpress blog it tells twitter, which i think is awesome.

    Im sure if twitter is used the right way it can be great, but for me i cant waste hours of my day on it.

    So yes i do think twitter is a waste of time for internet marketers of any level.

  11. shenoyjoseph says:

    i didn’t like twitter there is no chat sessions and image storage system

  12. For me, Twitter’s biggest benefit is that it allows me as the Owner of the Mitaroy Goa Hotel to present a face to prospective guests.

    My profile on Twitter is like my personal profile. It shows my prospective guests that a real business is behind this business.

    Cheers
    Mihir

  13. I don’t think Twitter is a waste of time. However, keep in mind that, just like everything else, it has it’s limitations. As a new website owner/developer and completely new to the game, I found that it is helpful as a means of getting my content out there as well as being exposed to similar sites from which I can learn something. It’s biggest drawback is the 140 character rule but, then again, you could look at that as a way to learn to be more precise in your communication.

  14. I have over 7,000 followers and a good amount of my traffic comes from my tweets promoting my posts. So I don’t think it’s worthless. Also I don’t just use Twitter to promote my blog, I actually tweet random stuff and talk to anyone that @’s me. This makes people more likely to check out your blog, if you talk to them they’ll know you’re a real person.

    • Nick Ali says:

      You are exactly right and this is what a lot of people miss. If you are just trying to promote your product or services, no one is going to the listen. Twitter is no different than any other relationship, you have to connect with folks. Its give and take. Get involved in their conversations, tweet about things your followers might be interested in besides your direct products and services. Then mix in what you are doing and put out what you want to promote, people will be a lot more apt to listen.

  15. Jeff says:

    Twitter has been useful to keep up with events and people within my niche, but that is about all. I know people who tweet every few minutes. I can’t justify the time needed to keep up with them, especially during work hours. I often wonder how others tweet so much and actually get work done.

  16. Chris says:

    We’ve shown Twitter to have some pretty phenomenal ROI successes for the company I work for, while offering a very good communication platform as well as research.

    I think it all depends on the user (like most things) and what you hope to get out of Twitter. Use it the wrong way and, sure, it’ll be a waste of time like most things. But businesses and people who use it for the right reasons whether research or communication, have found real benefit and certainly don’t think it’s a waste of time.

  17. Chris says:

    We’ve shown Twitter to have some pretty phenomenal ROI successes for the company I work for, while offering a very good communication platform as well as research.

    I think it all depends on the user (like most things) and what you hope to get out of Twitter. Use it the wrong way and, sure, it’ll be a waste of time like most things. But businesses and people who use it for the right reasons whether research or communication, have found real benefit and certainly don’t think it’s a waste of time.

  18. joemommie says:

    I like twitter just fine..its like instant-messaging, sms-ing..the entire world! Its also a great way to get news and subject of interests! However, I dont like the amount of “spam” on twitter…

  19. rakesh kumar says:

    I like twitter, right now trying to harness it’s true power to enhance traffic on my website. Though i am not a pro in twitter marketing , still manage to get some good results.

  20. john roeske says:

    I like both twitter and facebook. But can i ask a question ? Traffic from TW or FB can be counted as backlinks? if not, TW and FB is only for entertainment. But you still can advertising via FB and TW, sometime it bring benefit.

  21. oh WOW! This infographic is just AMAZING and details everything so perfectly.

    I do not think that Twitter should be deemed as a waste of time as it has some good rewards such as great networking and building friendships over interestes (ie: through celebrity fan accounts as seen with the young users) but you make some good points. :)

  22. Dave says:

    I concluded that Twitter is nothing if not the biggest spam engine ever created. Certainly it has value for prominent people with a following but as the data presented above shows, much Tweeting goes into the void. I dropped out.

  23. David Sanger says:

    This story is a waste of time.

    Dona, do you even use Twitter?

    What is your username? It certainly isn’t easy to find if you do.

  24. Joe Duncko says:

    I believe you are missing one thing about Twitter when comparing it to Facebook: it can give you feedback. On Facebook, one must “Like” you in order to communicate with you (and if they like you, what do you think they are going to say?). On Twitter, on the other hand, a business can search for their products and keywords, giving them the ability to offer help, see trends, see issues, and easily get feedback.

  25. Like the infographic and the story – agree it would take a wall to map out the full real picture but that’s a great start.

    Aside from individuals who use the site to be social, Twitter like any of the other major social network sites is useful if businesses are clear from the outset what they want their page to achieve i.e. Twitter forms part of their marketing communications plan. Too many companies have jumped into the band wagon blindly – then again those are the same businesses who run their operations without a robust marketing strategy!

    Like any channels, Twitter is a great site and tool if used smartly.

  26. I believe it is a large slice of pure luck for “ordinary mortals” who are not already well known…. I started a Twitter campaign for a new book written by myself and a friend about Business Travel in the 21st Century (Please Step Aside – I AM A FREQUENT FLYER)…It has great independent reviews but using Twitter has resulted in little sales…Even being contextual in the tweets, trying different tactics and using specific related Flying and Frequent Flying Groups and related groups and followers…There are millions of people on these groups but sadly there was little or no real interest…

    I looked at why and realised that Twitter is a TRANSMIT technology – Birds tweet to attract a female…There are lots of male birds chasing females…in the Twittershpere there are lots of Tweeters putting out their messages – I have been trying to follow some specific subjects in Digital TV and find that probably as per real life female birds it is vastly overwhelming…there is a lot coming at you and you cannot follow it all or follow up on what you receive…

  27. I must admit I’m using Twitter more as a resource these days. I do tweet but have reduced followers because of the the flood of tweets that were coming through – impossible to keep up.
    Like any social media you just need to find what works for you and go with that.

  28. Aaron Eden says:

    Twitter is NEVER a waste of time for me, as it helped me connect with people who I never dreamed of speaking to online or offline. I think that when used right, this platform has tremendous power to jump start your business into hyperdrive – and for small businesses who are just starting to explore the social media world, that can really mean a lot. I guess, Twitter is like a pair of jeans – it may be/may not be the right fit.

  29. Brandi says:

    Um, hello, you’re missing three very important points about Twitter:

    1. We (Twitter users) were the very first to hear about Bin Laden’s death. That story broke on Twitter before any major news network, and spread like wildfire. It is an *amazing* way to share information, fast.

    2. Anthony Weiners, er, weiner pics.

    3. Secret Twitter passwords and discounts. Because Twitter is over your mom’s head, and and your grandma can’t figure it out, not everyone is signed up for Twitter like they are facebook (and you said that like it was a BAD thing??), so businesses tend to offer much larger discounts for their Twitter followers using secret passwords. I don’t think I’ve paid cover at a bar in over a year!

    Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have told y’all about #3…

  30. Doron says:

    Just started using Twitter recently, and I must say that I’m enjoying it tremendously. Now I need to figure out how to make it a tool for my business.

  31. Christine Dewing says:

    I am an conference interpreter and translator (English/French). Twitter allows me to follow publications that cover areas that are useful to me. Tweets give me a quick way of picking the articles that are the most valuable, instead of having to sift through the whole website, or, God forbid, a paper copy.