Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Blog or to Twitter? That is the Question...

I've been a bad blogger lately. One post for the month of March is not good. Granted March for me was a swirl of new business meetings followed by presentations and a week's long vacation (no computer to write with during that time). But it seems that more and more I encounter people that are not writing on their blogs as much as they used to. The reason: Twitter.

Now this sounds counterintuitive. Why limit oneself to 140 characters to express thoughts/feelings/activities? The answer: Convenience. Twitter has made it very easy to express oneself and engage in conversation in real-time with the mass distribution of third-party mobile and Web applications. Twitter's platform allows users to post photos, create and distribute polls and search for relevant keywords/subjects (works most of the time) to find other Twitter users talking about similar topics.

Twitter has been described as a crowdsourcing "live" search engine, a live open source business intelligence tool (brand and reputation management), a non-profit/cause awareness/political engagement tool, a real-time news stream (think decentralized wire services), and the source for breaking and eye witness accounts of local and world events that may go unnoticed by traditional or more established news media. It also has been criticized for allowing anyone to post anything (including mindless dribble and mundane activities) to the world. The real impact of Twitter seems to be that it is becoming the day-to-day if not minute-by-minute choice for individuals (and businesses) to post what is going on. The convenience of Twitter to keep the conversation going without constantly having to check for written comments on a blog makes it more attractive. Twitter's immediacy makes it popular.

Since joining Twitter, I have spent more time interacting and "meeting" like minded PR pros, journalists, publishers, interactive designers, entrepreneurs, digital strategists, creative directors, and communication professionals. The debates and exchange of information is priceless. However, the more time I spend engaging and "using" Twitter, the less time and interest it seems that I have in my blog. In the past three weeks alone, I've seen several people that I follow on Twitter declare that Twitter has become their primary source of communication/expression on the Web and they have or plan to stop blogging. Will Twitter replace blogging?

Obviously the short answer is maybe. For some, Twitter's immediacy and feedback is more attractive and allows (in some cases) for more direct interaction/conversation with their audience. However, blogs are not limited by the constraints of 140 characters or a layout that takes a user (usually) outside the blog to view photos or take polls. Twitter is ruled by linking to content and that takes the navigation away from the main platform. The continual availability of relevant interesting content, interaction and information in real-time is what keeps users coming back to the Twitter. The challenge for those of us that blog is disengaging with Twitter long enough to fully expand on the ideas and debates on our blogs. For the most part, blogs remain the most popular and a key communication medium to establish and reinforce one's personal brand. At the end of the day, Twitter may not replace blogs, but those of us who are addicted to Twitter will have to find a balance - expression in 140 characters and blog posts (like this one) where we reinforce and expand on the constant exchange of information and ideas on just about anything.


Tony Mackey said...

Colleen, I had to take a moment to reply to you to blog or twitter comment because I think that is exactly what a lot of people are wondering right now.

My feeling is that if you blog you need to twitter to point people to your blog, but the more you twitter the less you may need to blog and without a doubt the less you need IM and that email thingy.

I hope you continue to blog.

Colleen Campbell said...

Thanks for your comment Tony! You're right: people twitter about their blog posts to drive traffic (and brains) to their content. Really what we have is a multi-portal architecture where applications like twitter and other social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, etc.) drive (hopefully) interest to whatever central focus an organization or individual wants as their main focus. For individuals, this seems to be either a blog or even their Twitter page. For others, it’s their Facebook profile (assuming its open with no privacy restrictions) or their LinkedIn profile. For businesses, the main focus still seems to be the corporate Web site. It will be interesting to see if Twitter becomes the main digital focus of individuals and businesses in the coming months.