November 6th, 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.
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!