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I have a confession: I once thought Twitter was a waste of time.
But the data coming from our Google Analytics account tells another story: Twitter is the number seven source of traffic to our website, outperforming both our RSS feed and Google non-search referrals.
In addition, 46% of the traffic that Twitter brings to our website are new visitors, and when they come to our site, they spend almost a minute longer than the average visitior.
Should I be surprised? Organizations with more than 1,000 Twitter followers (@Event360 has 1,251) get six times more traffic than those with fewer than 25 followers.
For anyone starting a revolution (or a fundraising event), Twitter can be a success. For the rest of the world, it can be a waste of time that doesn’t get the message out to people they want to reach. And for some, it’s no more a bunch of nonsense limited to 140 characters—as this infographic shows. Dona Collins (via ProBlogger) discuss it in more detail below.
Twitter was very popular during the crises in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen earlier this year as it worked to spread the word about where protesters could meet, and tell the world what was happening. Indeed, it and other social media platforms (mainly Facebook) have been attributed with helping to keep the revolutions moving.
Businesses also prosper from Twitter by keeping in constant contact with their customers—within limits. The Flowtown blog recommends posting tweets every few hours, not every few minutes, and planning promotions a few weeks out with videos and other links. Having conversations with customers on Twitter is better than preaching to them.
Most Twitter users spend their time on the service getting information about companies, with 42 percent learning about products and services, and 41 percent providing opinions about products and services. A good—and bad—point about Twitter is that 33 percent of its worldwide traffic is inside the United States. That’s great if you want to reach a global audience, but not so good if you only sell domestically.
Twitter, like Facebook, is also a popular way to learn about news. The death of Osama Bin Laden was all over social networks before news agencies reported it, and some Twitter users have used it as a way to report news live, before websites do.
Still, having thousands of followers may still be a colossal waste of time, especially since Facebook has three times as many accounts as Twitter, and 20 percent of Twitter’s users produce at least 80 percent of the site’s content. It looks like a few are preaching to the masses. Looking at the statistics, it seems that a lot of people get on Twitter and give it a try, then give up: 25 percent have no followers, about 20 percent have been followed by no more than 11 people, and only five percent have more than 50 followers.
As with any form of communication, how well you use Twitter will determine whether or not it’s a waste of your time. Blogger Darren Rowse says Twitter benefits him by acting as a research tool, expanding his personal brand, promoting content, and finding new readers, among other uses.
Twitter can definitely be a way to get things done. The UFL conducted its draft by live tweeting on Twitter. The United Football League isn’t as widely known as the NFL, but UFL coaches Dennis Green and Jerry Glanville make it a league worth following on Twitter with their updates on what their teams are doing.
Beware that famous people have been phished on Twitter, including people as disparate as President Obama and Miley Cyrus. Twitter, like any other website, can be hijacked by hackers. And remember, Twitter messages are archived and searchable, so anything you say is online forever. Just ask anyone who has been fired over a tweet.