Twitter & Blogs: Symbiosis or Competition?


There have been neglected and abandoned personal blogs on the Internet ever since blogs were invented. I suppose technically it would have been a day or two after that. In the last year or so, however, blogging has kind of run out of steam in the face of the more immediate gratification of microblogging. I have seen several bloggers write that discovering Twitter was the beginning of the end for their blog because they liked tweeting more than blogging. Blog readers have also jumped ship in droves as Twitter takes up more of their time.

I still blog fairly often. This particular blog went on hiatus because my interest shifted to other things. It made more sense to start new blogs than to drastically alter the focus of this blog. I have decided to start writing here again because I occasionally get a bee in my bonnet about business related stuff.

I have to admit that I spend more time on Twitter than on any of my blogs. I wouldn’t call it an addiction. It is a vibrant social outlet. It is an immediate source of news. Most importantly, I can find an audience who are interested in the topics that I blog about. I have two blogs set up so that a tweet is sent out every time I publish a new post. The tool I use for that is called Twitterfeed. I have separate twitter accounts for my two blogs. One focuses on reducing plastic waste and the other shares interesting solar power ideas and links to a website and blog that I have written about DIY solar panels. I have used tools from several different sites to follow lots of people who share these interests or are in demographic groups that are likely to share these interests.

I can only devote a few hours per day to Twitter. My followers come from all around the world and they can easily miss my tweets in their stream. The way that I increase the chance of being noticed is to schedule tweets throughout the entire day. I use SocialOomph to accomplish this. This service has both a free and a pro membership. I have used both types of membership at different stages of building my twitter accounts. I have a twitter account associated with a special project that I don’t devote a lot of time to. I sit down and schedule a whole month of daily tweets so the account won’t appear dormant to other services that help Twitter users weed out inactive accounts from their follow lists. I know about this kind of service because I use several of them. Twitter is so popular that there are new twitter management tools launching on an almost daily basis.

One function that SocialOomph and a few other services provide is autofollow. If you enable this function, your twitter account will automatically follow any twitter account that follows you. I had this enabled for a few months, but I soon found out that it results in my following a lot of people who are only interested in increasing their own following. Having a large following is meaningless if the majority of them are bots and spammers. I was really happy when I found a tool that could unfollow accounts that hadn’t bothered to upload a profile pic.

One important tool that I use when I am promoting my blog posts through twitter is a url shortener that that provides traffic data. I can use this to see how many people click on the link in a specific tweet. Having thousands of followers does not mean you will get thousands of readers for everything you post on your blog. I have over 8000 followers on one account and if I’m lucky a dozen people will click my link. I conducted and experiment while writing this with 31 out of 8567 followers clicking on a link when I told them that it was an experiment to gauge response. That is a response rate of 0.4%

If you want to use twitter to drive traffic to your blog or anything else, you have to tweet often. I’m not saying that you should tweet the same thing over and over again, in fact the service won’t even let you do that. I’m saying that you need to craft a variety of compelling tweets linking to your content and send them out at various times of day. They don’t have to be 24 hours a day. If you have a regional audience, spreading tweets out from 7am to 11pm is sufficient. If you are targeting a national audience in the US, you would do better to run scheduled tweets from 7am EST to 11pm PST.

I have not seen a huge increase in blog traffic since I started using Twitter. I haven’t seen a precipitous decrease either. My honest take on blogging in a post twitter world is that you have to go where the readers are and right now they are all on twitter.

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