Blogging vs. Twitter: A Different Kind of Commitment

Talking with Michael O’Connor Clarke the other day, we both commented on a trend we’ve both observed recently:

Corporations seem to be much more willing to sign-up for Twitter than they are to set up blogs.

We’re seeing companies big and small signing up for Twitter; from Ford, General Motors, Southwest Airlines and Dell to smaller companies like Natura Mattresses and Freshbooks (check out this list of organizations on Twitter).

This isn’t always intuitive. While some companies see the inherent value and potential in communicating directly with their customers, many others are are afraid of it. It’s unpredictable, it’s often not on the topics that you want to talk about and, well, it’s something new for many organizations. So, something must be making the difference.

Of course, we have to remember that social media as a genre of tools is much more advanced, high-profile and, to an extent, accepted than it was a few years ago when blogging first broke. However, that hasn’t helped podcasting become mainstream news the way that Twitter has over the last few months.

Is something else making the difference?


Is Twitter less of a time commitment than blogging?

As with so many things, it depends.

If you, or your organization, uses Twitter extensively, it may not be less of a time commitment than blogging. However, it certainly is a different type of commitment.

Writing a blog post takes a solid block of time – you need to set aside anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours for the process, depending on the kind of post you’re writing. Many of my posts here take upwards of 90 minutes to pull together. That can turn blogging into a big black hole for your time.

Twitter is a different kind of commitment. Each post takes just little time. That can give Twitter the appearance of requiring much less of a commitment than writing a “traditional” blog.

In reality that’s not necessarily the case. Many people post multiple times per day. What’s more, as a company representative on Twitter, you need to put a little more thought into what you write. That can make it just as time consuming over the course of a day as blogging. 

Still, is the perception that Twitter takes less of a time commitment leading to companies engaging more readily through it?

What’s your take?

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  • I definitely think Twitter takes much less time than blogging. You only have 140 characters to fill to complete a post, and if you want to post something profound, it’s easy to multi-task while waiting for that bolt of lightening to strike. That is not to say that I’m a proponent of multi-tasking. I recently read that in order to stop the feeling that ‘time is flying by,’ it’s necessary to stay ‘in the moment,’ which leaves out multi-tasking. So, did I get off task? Or was I multi-tasking? I better stay in the moment and feed my cats!

  • I agree, the perception is Twitter is faster and easier. Both take a time commitment, but Twitter spreads it out throughout each day.

  • The differences between Blogs and Twitter are so big, I don’t see how companies can see Twitter as a replacement for blogging (or vice-versa). They achieve different things.

    Twitter is good for some things – engaging one-on-one with potential customers, it’s very rapid, and can change views for good or bad very quickly. A twitter account can generate a big buzz in a week or two. You can appear in, and disappear from, the spotlight very quickly.

    Blogs let you generate more in-depth content. I see them having greater resilience in terms of perception and staying in mind. But they require long-term commitment, as well as the commitment of setting aside 20-90 minutes daily, weekly or semi-weekly.

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  • Twitter has a low barrier to entry. Look at most corporate blogs. They are ugly and most Sr. execs don’t want to take the time to learn anything about the medium. Twitter is easy to get into, but more difficult to maintain. The bottom line is, it’s all about relationships. Most of these companies are just looking for another place to carry a megaphone into. It’s an easy way for them to say they are on the edge of leading technology without needing half a brain cell to sign up and post a few messages about their latest sale.

  • I don’t think one can be a replacement for the other. I do find it much easier to Tweet, sharing links, charts, useful statistics and similar updates with colleagues. Blogging takes a bit more time, consideration and planning but is of no less value. I agree with the comment that blog postings seem more permanent vs. a fleeting tweet quickly lost in an endless sea of other comments.

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  • As a side note to Rick who commented first. You are speaking from the standpoint of someone who understand the differences and who understands web 2.0 technology. Most companies don’t have anyone that understands the space.

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  • I think there is a whiff of the fad with Twitter. Not that I am under- estimating the value of Twitter, as a microblogging and direct communication tool, i love it and use it daily.
    However, how many companies who start blogs/twitter feeds/social network pages leave them to waste and ruin? When there is no genuine passion within the company to engage with the community, these tools are used as lazy brand monologues. Check out on Facebook for an example of a company who thought “ooh, me too, i do social” and then really messed it up.
    I think Twitter helps those with attention deficit and lack of vision. Knock up a quick update, job done. A blog, as you rightly say, requires care and attention. Twitter does too if you want to make the engagement positive but it is easier to be lazy on Twitter with only 140 characters to type.
    For me there is no either/or. Both are valuable tools, Twitter for info sharing, blogs for diving into a bit more detail when you really have something important to say. The challenge is making it relevant, interesting and engaging.

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  • Another trend to point out, Dave, is that many large organizations are using Twitter – and not the blogosphere, so much– as a brand monitoring tool. There could be a few reasons for this, but my first guess would be relative ease. With all the app’s available for Twitter, doing a brand search is as simple as using Tweet Scan, for example. Searching the blogosphere through RSS, Back Type, Technorati, etc. takes time.

  • To me, it’s like the difference between e-mail and meetings. You tend to pick at e-mail as it comes in, answer some here and there, and generally engage for short time periods throughout the day. That’s how I am with Twitter. I never specifically set aside time to Twitter, it’s just kind of always there in the background.

    Blogging, which I’m very new to, is more like sitting in a meeting. It takes more time and focused attention and often you have to schedule it in advance.

    Twitter, though, like e-mail, often ends up becoming much more of a time suck. I think that companies see Twitter as something easier and less of a commitment than a blog, but agree that when companies do it right, it probably is much more time-intensive than blogging.

  • In addition to it being a fad (well, becoming better known in the mainstream) and the perception that it is faster/easier than blogging, I believe the third factor is that it affords more two-way conversation than blogging ever will. That is, you don’t just sit and hope someone will comment on your blog post, but you can actually have a discussion with someone and connect more directly. I do think people are seeing it correctly as a different form of communication.


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  • I can speak from our experience that we have found Twitter (@CMEGroup) to be of huge value to the exchanges that we operate (CME, CBOT, NYMEX). Not only can we share stories, blogs about our products and company, but we can instantly engage with them and learn from people who follow us (customers, analysts, academics, media). We have certainly figured out the use of Twitter from our end in how to use it to talk and listen. On the other hand, we’ve held off from blogging. This is based on content as well as the time commitment. I tend to agree with Amy and Keith’s comments above that Twitter has a low barrier to entry (no need to find room on our web site) and they are easy to pick off (from my desktop or mobile). We also find it easier to use Twitter to see what’s being said about the exchange and our products (using Technorati for this is not as effective — IMHO). As a B2B company I can say that we have found the actual conversation of Twitter more valuable than using a blog for that.

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  • I would also add thet it may take a little more time for companies if they want to respond properly to the feedback they receive via Twitter. Posting on Twitter, even several times a day, is one thing. Posting AND interacting, responding and doing that in a responsible way which doesn’t harm your brand is a different kettle of fish.


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  • I personally don’t get twitter at all… You need to come into twitter having a name already – to start from nowhere with twitter and build up from twitter and then move and expand – I don’t think it is realistic … companies can use it as a dumping ground for all information they want to share with the world and use twitter as a focus group that didn’t cost a thing to be set up and managed …

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  • Dave,

    Great question. I think there are a few simple reasons why we’re seeing businesses jump into Twitter much more readily than they have blogging, and in my opinion, those reasons are mainly related to the effort required to create a blog; a lack of management’s awareness about how to create and maintain one; and the simplicity and effectiveness of Twitter as a communications tool. Unlike many other forms of new technology, one does not need to be a tech whiz to get up and running on Twitter – and this is a huge advantage over blogging.

    Blogs are a lot of work. To really pull it off consistently one has to have a strategy, enough content to write consistently AND the desire to even do it. But before even starting with a blog, blogging itself needs to first be recognized as valuable by upper management (which I think is still not even close to being a reality), controllable by middle management (in terms of helping/guiding the company blogger) and executable by staff willing/able to do it. And this, I think is where everything stalls. . .before it ever even gets started. . .

    In my opinion, the perceived TIME it takes to create a blog isn’t a factor…it’s the EFFORT.

    A blog requires major planning and concept development on the part of the writer. So the immediate perception of blogging then, isn’t. . “Ugh, this is going to be time-consuming” (ALL work is time-consuming). . .it’s “Ugh, this is going to take a lot of EFFORT”. And effort here, is the key. This is particularly true of course, when the assignment to create a blog falls on an employee who could really care less about what they’re writing about. Trying to be passionate about a company or product that’s not your own, or that you’re not completely in love with, is not easy for any salaried writer/marketer/comms person. Where you see the difference is with blogs written by consultants and business owners. The reason is because they have a passion for, and a vested interest in, getting the word out. They have to blog even if it takes a lot of effort! The salaried writer hardly shares that same spirit or necessity.

    So essentially, it becomes a big pain in the butt for everyone involved, making it easier to just shelve the idea until it becomes “necessary”. . .or something comes along that’s simpler: like Twitter.

    When people ask me to explain to them what Twitter is, I tell them it’s like “public texting.” They get it right away. Okay, so now imagine you’re a manager, and you tell your colleague you want them to hang out on Twitter for a while and text people. Do you think they’ll be more open to that than all the work that comes with creating a blog post? You bet. One can sit down and rattle off Tweets to different people machine-gun style, one after another, without much thought. . .or at least until they really get strapped for characters, or are trying paste a link, etc. Not so with a blog: think, write, edit, give to boss, re-edit, post in CMS, catch typo, re-edit, etc.

    Then factor in the time to train, and the software and IT costs, and you’re looking a behemoth of a project just to have an employee create what many still think is a series of ego pieces. Blogging’s early function as public diaries for quirky personalities still haunts the platform to this day. CEOs don’t dig public diaries. Especially when they’re public companies.

    So, in my opinion. . .it’s the hassle-factor and a lack of knowledge, not the time-factor that keeps the blogging at bay. Video/Podcasting? Good luck. Ask someone to upload a video to any video sharing service and they’ll look at you like you’re nuts!

    Isn’t that something IT does?????

    Hope this adds to the discussion.

    Twitter ID: @dockane

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  • Matteo Patteo Chatteo

    Twitter is terrible, if u really want to update things quickly or blog about something, then use facebook… blogging is pretty bad 2 because it’s stupid why other people would want to see what other people’s lives are like and follow them 24/7, it’s basically having some1 stalk you and your every move

  • As someone who does Facebook, Twitter and Blogging each one has their own advantage but I have to say that I have more followers on Facebook and Twitter and not the actual blog. All three are an extension of my blog and need to be improvised. Most of the followers from Twitter and Facebook don’t go to the blog or I would have more hits.

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  • twietee1

    I agree with the position that Twitter and Tweeting is easier. it’s less demanding because it requires fewer words. People are more apt to engage because it will take less time and less thought. We live in a fast-paced world and cyberspace must conform to the world we live in. We want everything “microwaved,”simplified and convenience oriented. Blogging takes more time and effort.