Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To Tweet or to Blog?

For several months, I've been kicking around the thought that the current Twitter craze is hurting blogs by enticing their writers to take the easy way out and just tweet instead of crafting a more substantial blog post. I know that's what I've been doing.

And back in November, Publishing 2020 blogger Joe Wikert admitted that Twitter is cutting into his blogging frequency:

The time I used to spend reading (and writing) blogs has shifted to Twitter. I find myself less attracted to the long form writing in blogs and more to the short bursts of Twitter. FWIW, I used to write 4-6 posts for this blog every week and now I typically only write one, but I also write anywhere from 3-10 or more tweets per day. Despite that, traffic continues to grow modestly and nobody has complained so it seems like the right approach.

Yo, Joe, aren't you the one who told me I needed to blog every day? Seriously, that was good advice. Posting frequently catapults your content to the top of search engine results because they like to index frequently updated sites. Like Joe, I've seriously cut back my posting frequency to about one post per week. But last time I checked, this blog was still the number-one result on Google and Yahoo for the search term "Publishing Careers." So maybe the new advice is blog every day for a couple of years, and then you can rest on your SEO laurels?

I've noticed a similar trend in readership, too. My "backlist" usually gets a lot more action than my new posts (exceptions being this post about Butler coach Brad Stevens and this post about DC Trawler blogger Jim Treacher/Sean Medlock), anyway. And my daily readership stays about the same as it's always been, but without the big spikes I used to get when I got a good mention elsewhere.

So then Monday on Twitter, I ran across this post by Adam Singer on The Future Buzz listing 19 reasons why bloggers should resist the urge to merely pass along information, but to continue creating it in the form of blogs as well. And it must have hit a nerve. I retweeted it and got tons of high-profile retweets to my own fifth-hand retweet. It's as if somebody finally said what we all didn't want to say but knew was true: Creating compelling content does more for you and your brand than if you just share links to other people's content. What a great post.

Always the catastrophizer, I also wonder whether the decline of long-form blog posts will lead to a shortage of ideas. Will it lead back to old-school journo model of the few writing to the many, and the many just echoing their words in short tweets? And those of us who started blogs just to keep the words flowing will find ourselves with a new case of writer's block.

Don't get me wrong. I still love Twitter. I learn so much more, so much faster. I've expanded my network and shared laughs with people I have never met. I've got my finger on the informational pulse of the gadget-addicted world. Love it. Can't get enough of it. It fascinates me. But people who can write and who have something to say shouldn't squander it all on tweets. So I promise I will make an effort to write more long posts like this one.

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