A Blog is a Better Social Media Hub Than Twitter

Posted on November 7th 2009

If you're relying on Twitter as your social media hub, you're limiting your potential for impact and influence. Twitter is excellent for distribution, but if you're going to communicate original ideas, you'll need a blog (or something similar).

The most influential people on Twitter are either already celebrities, create their own content, or both. Who do you see most often retweeted? Major news outlets like CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Mashable. Guy Kawasaki. Robert Scoble. Of course there are many reasons these people are influential, but a very basic reason is that they are creating original content somewhere other than Twitter. They are most often using Twitter as a super-news-feed, and as a way to drive people back to their blog, web site, etc. (Scoble is an exception. He converses everywhere.)

Here are a handful of the many reasons a blog gives you more control and more power:

  • With a blog, you control the agenda, whether you're communicating on behalf of a company, or for personal reasons.
  • Your blog can cater to a sub-group of your Twitter friends or a different audience altogether.
  • A blog is less dominated by spam than Twitter.
  • You can embed images, audio and video on your blog.
  • Blog posts can be of unlimited length. You can express yourself in more than 140 characters.
  • With some environments, you have almost unlimited control over the appearance, functionality and arrangement of your blog.
  • Many blogs include the ability to offer contact forms, polls, chat and other functionality. You can even embed your Twitter stream into your blog.

There are many popular blogging applications. My blog is on WordPress, which is very popular for its rich feature set, wide variety of (generally free) third-party plug-ins and themes, and ability to use widgets. There are two basic ways to set up a blog, depending on how technical you are:

  • A developer-hosted blog, such as a WordPress.com blog, takes just a few minutes to set up and is free for basic use with optional paid enhancements. This is the easiest and least technical route to establishing a blog, but lacks some of the control and customizability of other approaches. With this approach there is no software to download or install. Everything is managed from the WordPress Web site. WordPress even has a cool iPhone app.
  • A third-party hosted blog (like the Socialized blog) requires a hosting plan and installation on a third-party server. I currently use Cyberwurx. With this version of WordPress I can easily change themes, install and remove plug-ins and customize my blog. WordPress.org is open source, and free.

A great application that offers nearly all of the functionality of a blog is Tumblr. I have a Tumblr page, often referred to as a tumble log, called Social Kapital, that I use for posting things I want to share but which are not related to the subjects I cover in my regular blog. Tumblr is also free, and extremely easy to use.

Movable Type, which is also popular, offers a free, non-commercial Blogger's License and several paid, “professional” upgrade options.

There are many other ways to launch a blog, but if you're serious about reaching the most people with your message and maintaining control over your communications agenda, I suggest you decide which approach makes the most sense, and get started. (If you're new to blogging, get a Tumblr account and have fun!)

Another advantage of having a blog is that it will let you go on the offensive with your communications strategy. You'll be able to communicate whatever you want, on your schedule.

And in quick response situations, it's a good idea to have a blog. I have often been called in when a company (that doesn't already have a blog) is struggling to cope with a challenging communications situation, and realizes they need a blog in order to respond. When there's a buzz out in the blogosphere that your company has shipped a defective product, is closing its doors, or is under investigation for example, a press release on the wire is no longer the fastest or most effective way to to respond. And hopefully, you can also use your blog to post good news, like quarterly earnings (if you're publicly held), an award, or positive coverage.

This post is intended to highlight why a blog is a superior social media hub to a Twitter account. Please share your experiences launching your blog, or ask a question, by leaving a comment below. Thanks!


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Joel Postman

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Comments

AlexHawkinson
Posted on November 7th 2009 at 3:48PM
I could not agree with you more.  As I recently spoke about at TWTRCON, businesses need to do more than simply rely on more than just a Twitter account of Facebook Page to create a sustainable, healthy online platform to be found and engage with their customers.

As I posted about when it was reported a few weeks ago that Facebook now accounts for 1 in 4 pageviews in the U.S., businesses need a hub for their online activities that they fully own and control.  With our platform we're trying to make this easy for small businesses, but the overall concept applies to everyone.


JohnPaulAguiar
Posted on November 7th 2009 at 4:21PM
Great Post!

I agree that to build true long lasting relationships,  we need to use more then just Twitter and Facebook.

I talked about this in a recent post Building Relationships with Social Media is A Myth

A blog is a true community that is yours and that you have full control of content, message, etc...
ScottKrahling
Posted on November 7th 2009 at 6:30PM
I agree as well. However, I have a question regarding the second part of your post. Would it not be better to have a blog programmed into your website so that your website in consistently updated with new information? This as opposed to setting your blog up on a 3rd party website?
AlexHawkinson
Posted on November 7th 2009 at 7:39PM
@Scott Krahling The blog integrated into your web site is the approach we take.  A good percentage of our users end up embedding their content stream from CloudProfile into their main site just as they use it to feed and listen to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
socialized
Posted on November 8th 2009 at 12:42AM
Scott,

For businesses with the budget or expertise, embedding a blog in the company's existing web site is a popular approach, and a good one. I was attempting to give advice on fast, simple blog deployments that either large or small businesses could do with limited technical background. I've actually had Fortune 500 clients who, rather than work with their IT department for an embedded blog, have hosted their blogs separately, on a domain other than their own, and "skinned" them with a theme that matches their regular web site.

Thanks for your comment.

 Joel

WendySoucie
Posted on November 8th 2009 at 2:01AM
For social media, its very important to have a "home" to send readers and connections to when they experience you on a social media site.  Twitter says so little about who you are that it is important to send them to a more complete location (linkedin profile, website or blog).

I like using Wordpress as a blog and website. You can create the pages you need for your static pages and you have the benefit on creating a blog that the rest of your site benefits from as your traffic grows.  If someone searches for and finds my blog, they can easily extend the relationship by reading more and getting my blog directly into email or their reader.

I like Twitter and Tweetdeck , but unless you are on it for some time, its hard to follow any conversation.  I did try to have my mobile phone get tweets, but that lasted on one weekend. Its not the place to become a thought leader and those of us trying to write blogs have strategies that extend well beyond the 140 character limit.  Twitter has its place but my blog/website is my "home" and my hub.

Wendy Soucie

http://www.xeesm.com/wendysoucie

 

 

Deana Goldasich
Posted on November 8th 2009 at 5:31PM
So very true! A blog can serve as a home base and a place to host content that's relevant to your social media contacts and visitors. Not only will it help you gain influence in Twitter, but in other social media outlets, as well. Still have a static website? Check out the 4 steps you can take to begin building a more social media-ready site/blog.

 


MathDelane
Posted on November 9th 2009 at 11:56PM
Definitely on the spot. Twitter is only a tool for sharing your content just like ping services that you notify everytime a new content gets published. Your blog is where you showcase all the great things about you, share views on issues that matter to you, etc., with much control and less censorship.
EllenSeebold
Posted on November 10th 2009 at 5:43AM
Well, in general I agree of course. This may be slightly off topic. But I'd like to point out one exception to make the conversation interesting: how about the young man who was just offered a television show from his Twitter site account of only 70+ tweets, called Sh*t My Dad Says? He is not a celebrity and he is not creating original content elsewhere. His twitter feeds are it. He has over 700,000 followers. Why are we so fascinated by what his Dad says? Pretty interesting.
Paul Chaney
Posted on November 12th 2009 at 10:55PM
Joel, I've said the same thing many times. In fact, the title of the blogging chapter in my new book calls blogging your social media headquarters. I especially appreciate your insight about Twitter being useful for distribution. But, it's far too lightweight to serve as a hub. Great insights. 
KirkCheyfitz
Posted on November 12th 2009 at 11:29PM
Let me be the 19th person to agree completely. Twitter is an asterioid on an eliptical path through the social solar system. Facebook is a planet, but it's not the star at the center of your system. Everything in social space revolves around the blog—the personal blog, the brand blog, whatever—the star where all kinds of long-form and other-form content can be easily hosted, accessed and organized.

To switch metaphors without warning, we tell our clients there is a hierarchy of social structures and the brand blog is the foundation on which everything else is built. Post it on the blog; chatter about it, tease it and promote it on Twitter; echo the post (if there's room) and discuss it with fans and friends on Facebook, and so on.

Thanks, Joel, for such a well ordered defense of the blog's place in the firmament. Just to take one example, I could never written this story about the Caribbean origins of social media on Twitter. It takes a blog!!

Kirk Cheyfitz
Post Advertising

 

Marketing@PhaseWare.com
Posted on November 13th 2009 at 1:10AM

I agree as well. With the blog as a base, the blog can be automatically sent to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. It can be bookmarked for yet greater reach. The posts can be reworked into articles, white papers, news releases. A blog can be highlighted in a marketing email and with a news release.

You can't do that with Twitter. I don't see how anybody could even begin to express their viewpoint in only 140 characters. Use Twitter to distribute your blog and to start relationships when possible by answering questions or helping to solve problems posted on Twitter. It is also a nice place to ask for feedback or get some of your own questions answered.

If I can only do one, I would do the blog.

AlexHawkinson
Posted on November 13th 2009 at 6:02AM
I have to step in on the Twitter front and disagree with the comments that it is somehow passing.  It has a role in the system.  As I posted recently in a debate about Twitter's valuation when commenting on its value for businesses:
  • It is so open that it is possible to use it to listen to the real-time conversations that are unfolding on the web and leverage it to connect with people who are potential customers or partners for your business (especially with tools that make it easier than the native Twitter site).
  • the great APIs have enabled tool developers like CloudProfile to help build business specific applications that unlock the power of Twitter and then help to draw prospects and customers into deeper, more meaningful interactions.

So it's not that Twitter is the be-all-end-all tool. It's just that it is the constantly in motion "front line" of where your business (or your individual) interests can connect with other relevant people in the world who you are not yet connected to. Backed by a powerful platform for then connecting with those people more deeply, it can be a tremendous source of ideas, leads, and fun for you.

And that is super valuable.

It's definitely not just a ping engine. Add the above together with the moves they are making into geotagging and location based info, and you've got something that will be a valuable component (especially when centered around a core business hub) of online marketing for a long time to come.

AlexHawkinson
Posted on November 13th 2009 at 10:49PM
On the Twitter front, I thought I'd share this post from today which outlines where I see it going:

All Your Status Are Belong To Us - Thanks, Twitter

DanaTwichell
Posted on November 14th 2009 at 3:06AM
I completely agree with your support of blogs; I think they are essential as well. I also agree with Alex Hawkinson's recent comments regarding Twitter.

However, I think the definition of a social media hub is more about where people 'live' and is not the same as a relational information hub (blog/website). People don't live on a blog for hours a day, but they do on Facebook/Twitter.

The social media hubs and information hubs are accomplishing two different things. Social media hubs are moving consumable bytes of information, often friend-approved, along the front line like Alex said. Relational information hubs are places to go deep and then point back out to consumable byte streams on social media hubs.

Both hub types are valuable and both are necessary, but in my opinion they are apples and oranges.

Dana Twichell

BobbinBeam
Posted on November 16th 2009 at 3:36AM

Thank you for this post. I've had a voiceover blog for some time now, and still feel it is a fine way to communicate, editorialize, and create original  and meaningful content for the voiceover community. Sure, Twitter is fun and fine, but I still like "to blog." I feel more "validated"

Bobbin Beam, Voice Actress

ingenuityarts
Posted on November 18th 2009 at 2:11PM
The most valuable comments come from people who realize it isn't about which platform is the best - kind of reminds me of arguments we had in school about which was better, horses or motorcycles. There really isn't an answer to that except, "It depends."

Blogs and Twitter are different creatures and perform best in environments uniquely suited to each of them. The helpful elements of this debate center on where blogs perform best, where Twitter works, and where something else might be better (like an old-fashioned hand written note).

Helpful dialogue will focus on understanding how to optimize each of the tools and how to decide which tool is best in any given situation.
erwin96smith
Posted on May 1st 2010 at 11:19AM
Our success is a direct result of knowing how to market a brand and having the right people representing the brand they this is a nice article thanks to share this article with everyone. Really it is great job.
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Partizannka
Posted on July 16th 2010 at 9:52AM

Sure blog is better! Yes, it takes more time to fill it with relevant content than to throw occasional twits.. But only hard work can bring sweet fruits! :)

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irena
Posted on April 28th 2011 at 11:32AM

I can´t imagine using a twitter without having my own blog. I absolutely agree with you that twitter is great for distribution, but managing your own blog gives you much more flexibility. Another thing is time consumption. Twitter can consume your time. Work, real social interactions and rest can all suffer if you are constantly tweeting and following other tweets.

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Irena @ web hosting reviews

Posted on April 21st 2011 at 9:05AM

As for me, I prefer using all resources that I can freely use. As of now, I use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. I use all of them to reach out more potential customers and to invite more sales. It works well, and I profited a lot from it.

My advice is to maximize the use of all those resources. If you're really keen on promoting your services and business, might as well as use everything you have.

Dee - Woodworking Plans

Posted on May 18th 2011 at 1:16PM

Great Post!

I agree that to build true long lasting relationships,  we need to use more then just Twitter and Facebook.

I talked about this in a recent post  Sevgi Büyüsü

A blog is a true community that is yours and that you have full control of content, message,