Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / November 14th, 2008

Twitter: The New Anti-Blog?

I’m sorry, blog, I’ve been neglecting you.  It’s not that I don’t have things to say.  It isn’t that at all.  It’s just that I’ve found somewhere else to say them.  No, it’s not like that.  I love you both, but just for different reasons!

That’s right…recently when I’ve had something to say, a site to share, or a question, I’ve gone to twitter.  Sure, I made fun of it for awhile, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  It’s not a place to let people know you’re “eating a great rueben” or “in line at airport security (though that kind of stuff does happen).  No, people are actually talking business. 

But it’s not all about what’s being said, but who’s doing the talking.  Twitter gives you a way to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise.  How many worthless conversations have you had at business networking events?  I know I’ve had a few.  What twitter does is give you a way to “eavesdrop” on people’s conversations.  If they’re interesting you can jump in.  If not, you don’t have to follow that person. 

But even with all of twitter’s great attributes, it shouldn’t be a blog substitute.  Here is a quick look at each medium’s strong points:

Blog:

  • The obvious first: depth.  This is obviously a huge point.  Twitter is successful partly because it limits what you can say to 140 characters.  However while it’s easy to digest, it doesn’t allow you to get larger points across.  While twitter is a good place to share a cool new site, it doesn’t let you tell people exactly why it’s cool (at least without coming across like the terrible acronyms and abbreviations of a newspaper classified as).  Only your blog can do that.  While twitter can drive traffic to your blog, it can’t begin to replace it.
  • More than text.  There are services like twitterpics and other cool tools that help you to share other content, but at the end of the day you’re heading off the site to an external place.  Your blog let’s you go beyond text to embed video, audio, images, and holograms (OK, not yet, but I’m sure CNN is on it!).

Twitter:

  • Let’s you engage your audience.  Sure, you can respond to comments on your blog, but your dialogue will be limited to your readers.  When you reply to other “tweeters,” you’ll get noticed by their friends, and then their friends, and on down the line.  This allows you to make connections with people around the world that wouldn’t have found you otherwise.
  • Twitter is a poor man’s news aggregator.  Sure, you could go to Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble’s blogs every couple of hours, or you could just follow them on twitter.  They’ll let you know when a good conversation is taking place on their blog.
  • Customer service.  No, not twitter’s, but rather your own companies.  Twitter let’s you easily monitor keywords to see what people are saying about you.  I’ve heard more than a few great success stories from people who complained about a product who were quickly contacted by the company in question for a resolution.  With your blog that could take a few days while you’re waiting for your site to be indexed, and even then the results are based on relevance, not chronologically.
  • Actually interact with industry leaders.  Sure, you can read Guy Kawasaki’s blog, but is he reading yours?  I’m guessing no.  But on twitter, you’ll find people like Guy, Business Week CEO John Byrne, Digg.com founder and current Inc Magazine cover model Kevin Rose and a host of others carrying on conversations with people who would have no chance getting past their receptionists (much less their receptionist’s receptionist).

So at the end of the day, they’re different.  Both are important parts of the social marketing mix.  Twitter isn’t just a new way to update your facebook status.  It’s much more.  But, just like your blog, you only get out of it what you put in to it.  So get out there and start tweeting!  Oh, and be sure to follow me at www.twitter.com/PVR352!