Blogging vs. Twitter – Commitment and Effort – Another Perspective

I recently received an excellent comment on my recent post Blogging vs. Twitter: A Different Kind of Commitment from Doc Kane (@dockane on Twitter), principal of Chicago-based Roscommon – a marketing, communications and PR professional writing services agency. Thoughtful and insightful, I thought it really drove the discussion forward.

His view: the difference between blogging and Twitter isn’t commitment, it’s effort.

With Doc’s permission, I’m re-publishing his comment here, as a post, for your input. What do you think?

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?????

  • Very true. I was actually thinking about this idea yesterday after I started following @rootscanada on Twitter. I thought: Twitter requires little effort on their part to cultivate relationships with their customers, AND not much effort for me as a customer either. Would I subscribe to their blog? Probably not. But their Twitter stream? Yes – as long as it is friendly and not spammy.

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  • I think this very distinction may be Twitter’s downfall. Because it takes little effort to throw up a tweet every 15 minutes, it begins to feel like spam. When the communication/connection aspect is overwhelmed with effortless advertising, Twitter could lose its appeal.

  • Laura Steen

    I’m a student currently studying Public Relations at Humber College. We had a guest speaker talk to our class about social media last semester, and they referenced a story about Dell on Twitter.

    Someone sent out a tweet on twitter that the main Dell page happened to be following. The tweet concerned problems with their Dell laptop, and the representative responded and was able to fix the problem. The person then of course tweeted the results of how amazing Dell was to everyone following them. That sort of immediacy can only really be feasible on twitter, as opposed to a blog. However that kind of one on one connection is limited with thousands of followers.

    So I agree with Donna in that it requires little or no effort on the part of a company to engage in relationships with customers, but the benefit is that it is more immediate. I think Twitter is a great platform to engage in conversation, if someone is talking about your brand it allows you to more actively engage in it.

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  • Thanks everyone for the great comments and re- Tweeting. Dave and I appreciate hearing from each of you.

    @Donna I think many more people will have this realization as they migrate to tools like Twitter. I actually do subscribe to a few blogs and tons of newsletters, but the content is so overwhelming the only way to even see it these days is to skim it where it resides: in my gMail Newsletter labeled folder. . not in my inbox.

    @Krista No doubt, Twitter is vulnerable to manipulation from a platform standpoint. However, at least for now, Twitter users seem to either ignore spammers or outright attack them. It’s a deadly game to play at the moment. Who knows though, in a year or two, if the mass of control moves toward users with lower followers and vested interest in using it for developing real relationships, your prediction might have some “legs”!

    @Laura Yup. I love Twitter for this very reason, and the Dell example is a common one for firms that understand the value of it as a customer relationship tool. It’s great that your school is covering this in the curriculum. . .you’ll be way ahead of folks in the future!

    The other thing I notice with Twitter’s immediacy is the ability it provides users for search. Even Google is not indexing things as fast as Twitter is, and THAT is a huge plus!

    Twitter as a search engine!


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