Twitter or Blogging? Are You a Sprinter or Marathoner?

Marathon de New-York : {{w|Verrazano-Narrows B...
Image via Wikipedia

The blog is dead. SEO is dead. Social Media has changed everything. No, blogging and SEO aren’t dead: they just have new life. Social Media hasn’t killed blogging: it’s opened up a whole array of possibilities. Twitter may be easy and there are many recent entrants onto Twitter who argue that Twitter is a great entrance into social media, especially for “noobies”. There are of course other arguments against that. There’s no right or wrong answer but let’s take a quick look at sprinting versus marathoning.

THE GREAT TWITTER SEDUCTION

No doubt: Twitter has taken off. It’s a great networking, discovery and sharing medium. I can go on about the shine of Twitter, but since so much has been written about those, I’ll refer you to Google.

I’ve been a fanboy of Twitter since the early days. But I’ve noticed lately that – for some – Twitter has become a seduction: unlike blogging which takes time, effort, patience and endurance, Twitter offers a rapid way to connect with others and share your message in a conversational manner. It’s very easy to embed Twitter into your life and your business – and in some cases I believe it can create the illusion that having an online presence is as simple as having a pushbutton.

Here’s the thing. Twitter is like sprinting: you can swiftly connect with others, with hundreds or thousands. But sooner or later, you’ll run out of breath sprinting all day.

Another way to think of Twitter is to think of it as a stream coursing through a large landscape. Do you spend most of your time in the stream without exploring and tending to the rest of the landscape? What happens if the river runs dry? (Twitter’s architecture is one of the worst in Silicon Valley – what would you do if Twitter lost your data, went “poof”? – It may be unlikely, but it’s something to think about: do you have a backup for your social graph, especially when online networks are in the Cloud?)

Twitter’s an important tool. But knowing how to use a hammer doesn’t make you a carpenter. And a home is what you need to build, a place you can invite guests.

Twitter’s seduction is this: you can connect to thousands of people and have a valuable level of ambient intimacy with them. But how deep are the relationships? Will you be able to sustain the endurance needed for meaningful relationships by relying on Twitter?

BLOGGERS ARE MARATHONERS

In the recent months & years since Twitter landed, many bloggers have expressed a concern about Twitter’s effect on their blogging habits. Some have even given up on their blogs entirely. Others,on the other hand, say that Twitter has enhanced their blogging. The reason those bloggers successfully integrated their tweeting with blogging is because they’re passionate about blogging: in other words, they’re marathoners. They understand that relationship building involves considerable effort.

Many companies – especially in Healthcare and Pharma have shied away from blogging: for years they have avoided blogging. Now Twitter came along and many organizations are finally “getting” Twitter and building their tribes (although most still just blast out self-adulating links without even a single acknowledgment of their followers – bad form indeed). So now we may have many companies who have never blogged investing their social media efforts in Twitter and other networking services – Facebook being the largest. Good on them for trying.

(Sidenote: If you’re in health care, I recommend following  @LeeAase who’s doing a great job teaching about Twitter; if you’re in Pharma, I recommend following  @Shwen for breadth of knowledge and  @Pharmaguy for content, fire-starting and humor (and he’s a solid blogger).)

But if you’re leading your social media presence activities and haven’t blogged (or aren’t blogging) you may be forgoing important characteristics of long-term engagement with your stakeholders: discipline and perseverance.

Blogging takes time. It requires passion about your message and the community who listens – and a place you can invite your tibe to speak their mind so that you can earnestly listen to them. It forces you to steadfastly focus on the most important things. And because Content is still King, blogging produces the content that houses your primary message (I use message instead of brand: because every business has a story to tell – and you can tell your story on your blog).

If you’re new to social media and have started tweeting, congratulations. Welcome to the 21st Century. But take a step back and look at the larger scene of your story. Have you developed that discipline necessary to be remarkable across your entire social spectrum? Do you know how to handle trolls and insults and ambushes? Do you know how to connect with other bloggers who may be telling their version of your story?

TO TWEET OR BLOG

You will have to decide where to begin. It’s easy to start Twitter and you’ll gain value from it if you follow the right people and plunge into the experience. Just don’t drown.

Just because you start with Twitter, don’t think it will be easy to blog thereafter. Maybe you’ll take to it like a duck to water. But if statistics are any worth, you may find yourself hopelessly addicted to Twitter at the expense of keeping up with your house chores.

If you want to re-consider blogging and get your start here are two recommended leaders in the field: Darren Rowse’s Problogger and Brian Clark’s Copyblogger.

Blogging has more challenging costs up-front than Twitter – not financially, but spiritually. Learning to speak in 140 characters is an important skill in our ever-changing world. But telling a story and having a place you can call home: priceless.

#

PS: If you think Twitter’s the new shiny toy, just see what happens to Facebook once the FriendFeed team brings their real-time engineering along. There’s a war going on among Google, Facebook, Twitter (and even Microsoft) and you’re in the middle of it. Nobody knows what Silicon Valley will look like in five years. Invest in your social spaces mindfully.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]