Unscientific observation: most bloggers use Twitter, but many Twitter users do not blog.
Twitter is popular because it is easy. It is easy to setup, easy to copy-paste links into, and easy to write 140 character bits. But, having your own blog remains the strongest platform if you’re serious about sharing ideas and having a continued dialog with the world. Blogging is the antithesis of easy, however it is far more rewarding.
I’m not saying Twitter isn’t a useful and interesting service, because it certainly is. But it does not negate the real opportunity that is actually made more useful by the popularity of microblogging: having your own blog.
Are you just using Twitter but not blogging? You’re missing out. Here’s why you should make a blog your home base and consider Twitter an outpost:
1. Blogging demonstrates true commitment and passion to your industry that you really can’t fake long-term. Most won’t be able to sustain it over long periods of time with frequency, but those who do so are rewarded in spades and stand out from the crowd.
2. Old articles are valuable and still read years later, given infinite life by the engines. Old Tweets live in archive purgatory where a majority will never be seen again.
3. Remember, you’re essentially contributing to someone else’s network on Twitter – certainly there are returns, but make no mistake they profit from your attention. I know you might not have a problem with that because you gain something too, but it’s good to be conscious of that fact.
4. A compelling link in a blog entry will be clicked; links in Twitter are noise that in aggregate make up signal, but the reality is links in your stream aren’t the same as a post with a compelling link.
5. Secret everyone knows: most of Twitter is just linking to blogs and content on the open web. Being the end product people are actually interested in and focus their attention on is where your ideas will be studied carefully, not in the cacophony of Twitter.
6. You own your work in a self-hosted blog and are in total control over how it is presented.
7. Twitter is in a sense social sticky notes, or the SMS of the Internet (however you want to consider it). It’s snack-sized content. Are you or your business interesting enough to provide the full course? It’s telling who engages deeper vs. those who simply choose to engage 140 characters at a time.
8. Cumulative results over time from blogging, each post incrementally adds value to your site as a whole. Not necessarily true on Twitter.
9. Full analytics with a blog.
10. Multiple touch points to readership and interaction (email, RSS, on-site, etc.).
11. Plugins let you add pretty much anything you want, can even integrate microblogging within your blog itself.
12. Flexibility with layout.
13. 140 characters is often more than necessary – but also it is often less than necessary.
14. Everyone on Twitter is looking for the next big thing or most interesting piece of content to link to. Wouldn’t you rather be the big thing than merely another person pointing at it?
15. These are all just tools to share content and ideas, no more, no less. You need a cohesive strategy for all of them to drive conversions in one spot. A blog is the perfect place for that if you want focused attention and to build an interested community. What if any one network you don’t control falls out of favor or changes the rules? At the end of the day, self-hosted blog owners control the vertical and the horizontal, whereas on Twitter or any external network you’re at the whim of someone else.
16. I don’t even know why some people consider for a second that Twitter and FriendFeed will kill blogging, these ideas are pure linkbait and show a lack of understanding of the motivation of people on the open web.
17. Careful of how much time you devote to Twitter instead of contributing to your own channel. Spend the most time nurturing that – time spent in Twitter comes at the opportunity cost of fresh content to your blog. You can use Twitter and other micro networks to draw subscribers and interest, but the premier value is in working on your own material in a unique space.
18. RSS is alive and well – Steve Gillmor and the TC gang know how to write a great piece of linkbait, but that’s pretty much all it is. Remember, they are in the business of generating buzz, links and pageviews through opinion pieces that ruffle the feathers of tech bloggers, and they’re good at it. It’s entertainment value but I wouldn’t put too much stake in anything one person or site says, always look at the situation and landscape objectively.
19. You are in control of when your blog goes into maintenance mode – not so with Twitter or really any free service.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Twitter. I’ve even taken the time to draft insights from using it as I think it’s a great service, however the biggest opportunity is still to develop a successful self-hosted blog. This advice isn’t new – but I just got the feeling this week that it needs to be restated. I know it’s not as “s*xy” anymore but it is still far more valuable and should not be discounted merely because the early adopters have shiny new object syndrome.
Further reading to help push your blogging to the next level: