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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. Twitter is pretty excellent when you have the right followers (audience). As a blogger, when you are followed by people interested in what you write, then you are sure to pull some to your blog.

    However, the whole concept of TEAMFOLLOWER BACK or whatever they call it which seems to be increasing on twitter today is messing things up. You can through this channel have 100 thousand followers and yet none will be interested in blogging…

    So I think twitter is a community of good and useless strings, depending on the individuals you allow to be part of your community.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      The whole “team follow back” things is so annoying. we’re not trying to get followers for the sake of having followers! just like we’re not trying to get traffic for the sake of traffic! If no one is paying any attention to anything you’re saying, what’s they benefit of having all those people “following” you?

    • abrbmusi says:

      Twitter is an excellent way to communicte with friends,family and relatives.

    • Torkona says:

      I consider that picture a waste of time! Lordy! what a lot of effort put into that!

      i love twitter. It is a fantastic way to show my new blog posts to my followers via @Torkona3.

      the only problem is trying to spend as little amount of time on it as possible :-)

  2. Great post. Thanks for the graph it’s pretty inspiring. I’m haven’t really utilized twitter but it looks like it can be a very valuable resource I’ll be looking into more.

  3. Patrick says:

    Great post. Thanks for the graph it’s pretty inspiring. I’m haven’t really utilized twitter but it looks like it can be a very valuable resource I’ll be looking into more.

  4. Jacob says:

    Twitter isn’t a waste of time. It can be, but as a marketing tool, it can prove to be effective. Add in the fact that Google and Bing are starting to trace social media indicators to factor into their SERPs, it is increasingly becoming important to have Twitter and Facebook and Quora and, and, and, and, and….

    That being said, don’t go overboard. If you’re a professional blogger, it is more important, I’d say, to spend five hours working on your blog than five hours tweeting about something. If it comes down to Twitter or your blog, I’d hope you would choose your blog.

    I did find an interesting fact somewhere, though. It found that a Tweet is worth about $4.00 to a company while a Facebook share is worth about $11-$12 to a company. Perhaps a share is more likely to go viral than a Tweet?

    • Graham Lutz says:

      I think someone’s facebook friends are more of the “real life” friends than twitter followers are. So someone is more likely to tweet something because they are less self-conscious about what they are into.

      The people on facebook who share everything get “unfriended” quickly.

      • I’m one of those people who uses Facebook OFTEN, but not in the same way as Twitter. I don’t think people really understand that Twitter is basically equal to a modern day chat room. Ir’s way more acceptable to tweet every 3 minutes than it would be to update your facebook status. You’re right anyone who uses their facebook as a twitter account is usually deleted quickly. Or at least hidden!

  5. Josh says:

    Fantastic post and a beautiful infographic. Thank you for highlighting the benefits of Twitter! It’s a more valuable tool than some might realize… it just needs to be used the right way!

    Josh Loomis, maidenmedia.com

  6. I get very targeted traffic from Twitter. So, I don’t think using Twitter is just waste of time at least for me.

  7. Graham Lutz says:

    I’ve seen some good benefits from using twitter. Outside of the traffic to the blog, I’ve been able to make some connections that would have been much harder to make without twitter.

    It’s a non-threatening way to approach people – I think it has done wonders for networking.

  8. Carolyn says:

    Fascinating statistics – really useful! Doesn’t this inspire those of us who do have larger followings and use Twitter for helpful content? It seems we are more rare than I thought. I find Twitter to be a great tool for linking to my own blog and valuable content on others. Plus, it’s short – and that makes it easy!

  9. Jamie Harrop says:

    For me, Twitter is an excellent research and communication tool, and is full of ideas for new blog posts. The conversations I have via Twitter are conversations I can’t have on my blog. If it wasn’t for Twitter, I’d never have these conversations so I’m very grateful for it.

    Jamie

  10. Hasan says:

    Awesome post!
    Something very different indeed! I like how this post was based on graphics and photos and not just simple plain text.(its a great for a change)

    Also, Twitter, From my experienced is great for viral marketing; to get your word/message around the whole twitter tribe but Facebook fan page more like a fan based community.

    1. With twitter you can build a relationship with someone that normally wouldn’t know you or your brand!
    2. Facebook fan page, you usually would know that person/brand before you “like” them, and THEN build a relationship with the brand.. Twitters the other way around.

    Great post, it shows the power of twitter and the affect its taking on social media overall…
    Although i might take a while to “figure out” twitter, i think its a great communication device everyone should learn and use..

    Its a way to express events is our daily life’s that we normal don’t do! In 140 characters! :D

    Super awesome post

    Regards Sincerely,
    Hasan

    • Graham Lutz says:

      Great point, Hasan – You can probably be very effective with both twitter and facebook if you approach them with those ideas.

  11. Lisa Kanarek says:

    I think Twitter can be helpful if you use it correctly. Letting someone know that you’re at the frozen yogurt shop is a waste of time. Letting someone know that you have a new blog post or sharing a link to a post that can help others is a good use of time.

    I’ve made several key business contacts through Twitter and the people I follow offer helpful links and info. As with any social media tool, how you use it makes all the difference.

  12. Stephen says:

    Twitter can be a waste of time, in so much as it’s easy to get drawn in to what other people are tweeting about. How many times have you seen a tweet and thought “Oh, that looks interesting….”. The next thing you know you’ve wasted half an hour reading something you didn’t really want to read or visiting sites that have not really enriched your life.

    With regards to traffic and blog promotion – I thing it’s only a good thing if you’re well connected or you have thousands of followers.

    Overall though, I think Twitter is a good thing. It gives people a voice if they want it, it spreads news and it connects people.

  13. Gregory C. says:

    I wouldn’t quite say that it is a “waste of time”, but I would say from my experience it is highly overrated. With many of my blogs, the Facebook fan page becomes much more popular (especially if the blog has to do with something social, like music) than the Twitter page, and I find that people are much more interactive on Facebook fan pages than they are on Twitter.

    So while I don’t think Twitter is a complete waste, I really feel like for a blog’s success time can be better spent elsewhere.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      It takes some work to make twitter super interactive, but the people I’ve seen do it have done awesome. some of the hashtag chats I’ve seen and been a part of are super useful, not only to gain insights, but also to network with other like-minded people.

  14. Bruce Serven says:

    It’s a little ironic that a credit loan blogger is improperly using the term ‘Phishing’ here, as those are satirical impersonations or mockings not fraudulent attempts to steal people’s identity (or credit/banking credentials).

    Seems odd that this word usage has passed thru at least three different entities without breing corrected, so maybe it means something different than the criminal nature it means here in the U.S.

  15. CoCreatr says:

    Thank you for this concise summary. Is texting or SMS a waste of time?
    If no, then twitter can be seen as texting in public, with all that that entails.

  16. Absolutely not. If you understand it.
    CAN Twitter be a waste of time? Yeah.. So can anything else.

    The way I look at it is different from most of you. because yes, I’m a business person. But also? I’m a stay at home mom who lives a good hour from any of her friends. Social media IS my socialization. And if not being a lonely is a waste of time? Then I guess the people in these comments have got me.

    Rather than worrying about how people on your list use foursquare and you don’t care about check ins, just do your best to make Twitter a tool that works for you. It can be done!! And be willing to unfollow when you’re not interested. It’s up to you what gets across your feed. That’s the beauty of twitter.
    What is not relevant to you could be very relevant to someone else.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      I’m ALWAYS unfollowing people. My follow list hovers around +-25, and I’m quick to get rid of someone if they’re no longer interesting/informative/valuable.

  17. Marty Weil says:

    More and more, I’m coming to the conclusion that it is, for the most part, a waste of time. Certainly, the payback-to-time-spent ratio isn’t there for me, especially for my niche blog site. I’ve kept close track of stats, and I have a much better return on my time investment from Facebook. There’s no contest. I believe the major flaw can be found in the stats you provided–a small percent of the users on twitter account for the traffic and most people open an account and forget it. Facebook, in many respects, easily replaces the twitter functionality for most people.

  18. Great question in the title and great answer! Twitter is worthwhile if only for #blogchat. Other than that, I use it somewhat sparingly. It is a moderately useful platform.

  19. Thanks for sharing this.

    I find it still a bit of a challenge to fully understand how to integrate Twitter and make it work for my online show, but I’m making an effort to actually be more active.

    Up to now, Facebook has been a much bigger pay off then Twitter for my business, but maybe it’s because I didn’t fully understand how to use Twitter well.

    Krizia

  20. Scott Cowley says:

    I love Twitter like I love blueberries (lots), but it’s a waste of time when compared to many business functions.

  21. Interesting. Certainly Twitter drives traffic to my blog and I also use it as substitute for e-mail. (Although I rarely use Direct Messages).

    I have a separate feed for the people that I’m the most interested in hearing about to make sure I don’t miss any of their teets (including yours Darren!)

  22. Raymond says:

    i would say its also good for some people those who have strong people power , but for others it waste of time but still we cant ignore the twitter

  23. Rupy says:

    Twitter can be a fantastic tool, however as with everything it is mis-used by the majority (who mainly consist of Justin Bieber fans). However it can be a good use of quick communication.

    P.S – That was a great presentation of the information.

  24. I seem to remember Seth Godin saying Twitter was a waste of time. Something about 100 hits or so to his blog one day from 100,000 followers.

  25. Kendra says:

    I think it works well for some, and for others, not so well. I am at the beginning stages of using social media for my blogs and it is a trial-and-error period. I am hoping to see which will be more effective in communicating with others about my blog and which brings the most traffic. As of now, facebook has led to more traffic than twitter. But, I’ll continue to use both for now.

    Thanks, Kendra

  26. It was a great study about twitter. Twitter is a waste or not? I don’t have a answer yet.I’m still working on it.Hope it will work for me.
    Thanks for the Information.

  27. Tatiana says:

    I’ve found twitter to be useful because it’s a great way to build relationships with fellow bloggers outside of blogging. It’s how I’ve found more people to talk to and interact with on a daily basis. Plus, many people I follow post really interesting links that teach me things as well as deepen my understanding of others. Twitter becomes a time waster if you spend all day tweeting and re-tweeting. At some point you need to get up and do something and not spend all day reading people’s conversations.

    But in terms of personal use, not related to blogging or maintaining a business – Twitter is a waste. If I didn’t have a blog, I wouldn’t have a twitter. I’d simply use Facebook and keep it at that.

  28. Brad says:

    I don’t feel twitter is a complete waste of time but its getting close.

  29. Ines Franklin says:

    Great graph. Most interesting fact: 20% of people produce 80% of the Twitter content. This proves that the The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less [by Richard Kosh] is true.

  30. Bob Garrett says:

    Ive found Twitter to be one of the more valuable Social Media platforms – however not the “only” one. Twitter can be a great way as Dona pointed out, to get your msg/content out to the world. But more importantly, “listening” to the masses, and responding/reacting cant be ignorned

    When the White House broke into The Apprentice, a few weeks ago, the first place I went to find out what was going on – was Twitter. And while most folks still didnt have a clue what was to be announced, a simple search of Twitter, provided breaking news from CNN and the famous blogger just down the street from the show.. Same thing with plane landing in the Hudson and other world events, the earthquake in Haiti was another event

    So dont under estimate Twitter’s impact, but do over blow its importance either. Hate it or love it – its here to stay for at least a little while

  31. Jeffrey Kang says:

    Twitter is just another one of those tech start ups that stupid investors jumped on because they thought it was going to be the next big thing. So far, they’ve only gotten less than $100 million from the service and is still pumping it with dead money without a sure business plan to get their investors’ money back.

  32. julkastro says:

    Twitter works and rocks….it has change many web experiences, including mine. But what about the time left to go out and explore the world. If i had to pick one i’ll choose my real life. Things are not bad or good, just depends on how you use them.

  33. nicky says:

    Great post Dona. Loved the infographic! It’s interesting that only 10% of Tweets are reposted versions of previously published Tweets. Sometimes it seems that is a lot more, but that’s because I’m connected with a group of people who share my interests.

    I think Twitter can be a huge waste of time, but then so can anything. I use it for business, and it’s helped me connect with my local business community, and I’d go as far to say that it’s actually saved me time. Building relationships online first before meeting face-to-face cuts a lot of the uncomfortable first-meeting chit-chat out of the conversation. It’s like you already know the person pretty well, and you can spend time talking about business when you meet up.

    If you’re using it for business you need to know why you’re using it – what are your goals. You also need some system in place to measure those goals.

  34. Twitter’s usefulness will vary greatly by those who use it. Are you talking the marketers wanting to sell their wares, the bloggers wanting followers, people wanting to network and connect with peers in their industries .. or the half that haven’t finished college, in their teens and 20s who maybe don’t care if they have only 73 followers? There’s a big group of users who just like the updates, the feeds, a place to vent and doesn’t care about ‘productive time’ or uses it as a different sort of online chat room to talk about whatever. See also YouTube; plenty of people watch, but fewer comment and share and far fewer still actually contribute. It’s very much about what you put into it. And why. FWIW.

  35. Twitter is a waste of time and it isn’t at the same time. As long as you understand what it is about and how to get the best out of it then it will work well for you. If you are using it purely to get traffic or to increase sales which many people do then forget about it, that doesn’t work. If you are using it to build reputation and increase your knowledge and the information you consume then you are on to a winner.

  36. Archan Mehta says:

    What the heck is twitter anyway? Thanks for this post, by the way, quite interesting.

    For me, twitter conjures an image of a bird singing a song in the wee hours of the morning. This bird “twitters” because it is mating season, and unfortunately the bird thinks I am his/her lover. No thank you, shoo, let me get my beauty sleep. Go away, bird, don’t waste my time. And leave my home, now.

    These days, everybody I know seems to be on twitter: even my cat, Marilyn (not to be confused with the icon, Monroe). And whassup with the 140 characters. I want to know the name of the clown who created this word limit. Who gave the clown the right to impose his ideas on us? That makes me wanna do something really horrible to the person, like get him/her married to a socialite or a Hollywood celebrity.

    I’m just happy I am not on twitter: the Lord saved my life by keeping me dumb like driven cattle. I don’t particularly wanna know about your high-heeled shoes or why you left your bra or underwear at Macy’s.
    That’s your business, sister, so keep it to yourself. If you think you are Elvis, I don’t wanna know. There is such a thing as privacy, so don’t share too much information. I want to stay away from Twitterers.

    People who twitter: do you actually have a life? Or are you trying to live vicariously through my life?
    Jokes aside, perhaps those who twitter about banalities and trivialities need to find a hobby. Find something to occupy your minds. Don’t ask me out on a date: I am not available on twitter. Cheerio.

  37. Stephanie says:

    Twitter can be great for many reasons. Obviously twitter connects people. Families living on different sides of the planet can instantly know what others are doing. Friends who haven’t seen each other for years are still in touch with each other. Businesses can promote and connect, as well as colleges and universities promoting the advantages of their schools. Twitter has changed the world of communication.

  38. Janis Jones says:

    Twitter is a useful tool for research, for identifying and building relationships people with similar interests around the world. It can also be a terrible distraction. I set a time limit of 10 minutes or less per Twitter session.

  39. Nikole Hahn says:

    Twitter actually brought in more readers. I’ve made connections through twitter. I don’t think it’s a waste of time, but I guess it all depends upon your purpose for using it.

  40. Daniel says:

    Not all that long ago if you would have said “Twitter is a waste of time” you would have been castigated from all sides.

    I noticed at that time through a fair amount of researching twitter, that you just did not say anything negative in regards to Twitter as it was almost considered taboo.

    That is slowly changing.

    Though, I may not personally be enraptured by the whole Twitter concept, I am sure their are many individuals who thoroughly enjoy the interactions whilst often in the process, achieve bringing more visitors to their site.

  41. Daniel says:

    Donna, that’s a nice visual you have provided there.

    It looks like a very elaborately done, Mind Map.

  42. Loved the graphic! Very informative! Interesting that even on Twitter the old 80/20 rule holds true.

  43. Ifham khan says:

    Twitter is the best resource to get traffic into blog, I have been on twitter from past two years but not got any fruit by twitter but now twitter gives me a lot, We have to use twitter very attractively following people is not the way to get followers.

  44. Louie Sison says:

    I’m impressed with the demographics.

  45. Carla Easley says:

    I think that Twitter really can be effective once you get the hang of it. I’m still fairly new to Twitter and just starting to get the hang of it but I notices some traffic to the site.

  46. Kent says:

    Can anyone do something like this for Malaysian market????????? I learn a lot about Twitter in US, Facebook in US, Linkedin in US, but not in Malaysia. But as I expected, Twitter users use most to product recommendations and advice. :)

  47. I have used Twitter in the past and was one of the many that you mentioned that gave up after a short while. I started to see the power of social media quite accidentally on Facebook however, with a website I have ran for years. In two years it went from around 50 unique hits a day to currently around 500, even recently seven hundred, which I put down exclusively to the power of social media.

    This time I came back to Twitter with a specific goal in mind. New challenges and projects. I think that maybe what people need to decide What their goals are in using it, and try to stick to them without getting distracted or falling into the traps that can take alot of time away from the main goal.

    The 140 character limit on Twitter can be off-putting at first. However I also believe it can help those with a bent towards the written word to help them “write tight”

    So to answer your closing question, anything if used carlessly can be a waste of time. If one has a goal and sticks to it as much as is humanly possible and keep heading towards that goal, I think Twitter can be a powerful tool.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  48. Tim Shapcott says:

    Twitter is just another channel and in that, it may or may not be relevent. Decide your aims and your strategy, THEN decide the channel to carry them out.

    Search Twitter and find out if your customers and prospects are using it? You can even ASK THEM if they are using it AND if they want to see you there too?

    If you plan and research, the infographic above is just another image on another website that may or may not reflect your findings for your project ;-)

  49. Manjusha says:

    I have been thinking about this for a while. I have had little success with Twitter: I have very few followers. But I have heard many saying that Twitter has helped their business tremendously.

    Maybe the key is finding people who are really interested in what you write. The ‘Follow me and I will follow you’ method is a complete waste of time.

  50. Bogata Wilson says:

    Twitter and Facebook are both colossal wastes of time. Instead of useful information, what you get is a never ending stream of press release tidbits, that it takes more time to follow up and get the whole content if it really is worth reading than if one had just visited the webpage or RSS feed.

    Twitter is mostly 99% multilevel marketing land, with tons of wannabee hustlers spewing ‘look at me’ repeatedly. Facebook is AOL 2011, ie internet on training wheels, and twitter is simply 2011s CB radio fad.

    Giving them credit for revolutions is ridiculous. Thats like giving phones credit for winning world war II.