Why tweetstorms, not blog posts

(Originally published on Converge)

The other day my wife complained, like many of us Twitter users have often done:

Why do people write these long tweetstorms, instead of writing a blogpost?

I blog. And I write tweetstorms. And the answer to that question, for me, is in three factors — reach, effort, and ephemerality.

Reach

The obvious one — anyone who’s ever used any social media platform knows that native content performs far better than 3rd party content.

On Facebook, this is a no-brainer. The company openly states that its timeline algorithms prioritise native content over embedded/3rd-party content. So, forget getting follower to clicking through to your site — Facebook doesn’t even let most of your followers see your update with link to the blogpost.

Twitter, thanks to its non-algorithmic timeline, has no such enforced bias. But there too, the viewership of text/images in a tweet, is orders of magnitude higher than content that requires a click-through to a browser/another-app.

Thus, posting my rant directly on Twitter gets it (I dream!) higher visibility, than if I’d published on my blog, and posted the link on Twitter [1].

Effort

There’s an expectation for blog posts to be well-thought, and to convey the point in a structured manner. This takes effort — to think, to write, to edit, and to finish.

Twitter, on the other hand, is all about spontaneity. Even when you’re writing a long form essay that may or may not cover game theory ;)

Long form tweetstorm on game theory. Or maybe not.

Law of path of least resistance means Twitter wins. Almost, every time.

Ephemerality

Content on Twitter disappears quickly, buried under tons of new posts, rants, retweets, and photos of my dog.

This encourages posting.

Nothing will spoil, or decorate, your profile forever. Most of it won’t even turn up in search, unless someone is being really dogged about it.

Blog posts, on the other hand, are forever. Maybe, not as forever as diamonds, but still.
And they have this nasty habit of being indexed by Google, and popping up in search with your name next to them.

Ephemerality is also a limitation, when you want something indexed, and saved. Sometimes I post a tweetstorm, and then write it in a blog post. Just because I want it to stay. Say, like this one…

Yet, the rise of Snapchat (and Instagram stories), and decline of original sharing on Facebook has shown how valuable ephemerality is to lots of people.

And that, in not-so-short, is why tweetstorms are booming, to the detriment of blog posts.


Aside: Why Medium is thriving, while personal blogging (WordPress) seems to be withering?

The answer is, again, reach. Medium’s suggested posts, social media tie-ins, and reading-only home page are all geared towards maximising reach of content on this platform.

This is also why, I believe, WordPress needs to make a success of its Reader as an independent app, if it wants to keep personal blogging thriving.


Notes:
[1]: Of course, this reach has a down side too — just ask Justine Sacco. But, most of us don’t think we’ll ever get that kind of reach… till that day when we delete our account and hunker down.

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