Is Twitter a Distraction or a Referral Source? Take My Poll.

by Sherryl Perry

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Being analytical by nature, I don’t usually do much of anything without having a goal, a strategy and a plan. Even a trip to the grocery store involves a list (if only a post-it note), a destination and almost always a strategy involving a carefully laid out plan to combine multiple errands mapped out in a path that involves keeping in mind traffic patterns. (My husband’s suspicions that I’m a little nuts might be confirmed if he had any idea what is actually involved in my thought process.) Having said that, when I wrote my last blog article, “5 Tips for Incorporating Twitter into Your Social Networking Strategy”, I wrongly assumed that lots of people start out tweeting with goals and a detailed plan. As I read some of the comments, I quickly learned that some of my blogging friends are frustrated with Twitter and it’s not working for them the way they had intended. So, I’d like to know more.

Do you have a social networking strategy? Is Twitter a major distraction to you or are you using it to build your brand and develop an online community? What are your thoughts? Are you an “accidental” twitterer? Did you have a plan when you started or did you just dive in and start tweeting? Are you one of those people who have thousands of followers and don’t tweet at all? What’s your favorite Twitter resource? Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas  and experiences.

[polldaddy poll=4338427]

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane
Twitter:
October 1, 2011 at 10:42 am

Hi Sheryl, an evergreen topic – as long as Twitter lives. In my opinion, it is a matter of personal preference and the ability to use it without getting sidetracked.

Twitter can be a total waste of time or it can be a highly effective marketing tool. It all depends on the perspective and the strategy a person is using.

To me, it is part of my marketing strategy.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Exactly! You really have to have a strategy. Otherwise, Twitter can be a colossal time waster. The last thing you want to do is turn it into a numbers game. Thanks for coming by Jane. It’s good to see you here.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Should CommentLuv Premium be Part of Your Social Media Strategy?My Profile

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steven February 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Twiter, although it seems to increase traffic, it definitely increases the Bounce Rate, which is a big minus. One has to focus on a specific type of followers based on one’s niche. Ofcourse it takes some time to create this community.

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TJ McDowell January 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Looks like most people at least have an idea what they’re doing on Twitter. I keep flirting around with the idea of getting serious with Twitter. I think if I had a real reason to be on Twitter that I’d definitely go all-in. As it is though, I know about Twitter, but I don’t know much.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

TJ, I’m using Twitter partly to build awareness of my blog but mainly to build community. I know for a fact that a lot of my blog readers found me because someone else RT’d one of my posts. To me, that’s reason enough for me to be on Twitter.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Who Should You Like- Follow and Connect WithMy Profile

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TJ McDowell January 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Yea, if you’re getting benefit out of it, it completely makes sense. This may sound dumb, but I really don’t know what to do with Twitter. I don’t feel like I have anything to Tweet about. I dunno.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm

TJ,
Are you trying to drive traffic to a blog or website or trying to build awareness of yourself as a photographer or blogger? Who are you targeting?

I always tweet about things that I find interesting and have learned from. The key to me is to bring value. When I’m surfing and find information that’s helpful to me, I’ll tweet it. Sometimes, I’ll look at the tweets of bloggers that I follow and RT their tweets. I try to keep my message on target (things of interest to bloggers and business people).

I think what you need to decide is are you blogging/tweeting to photographers or to people who want to hire a photographer or both? You could easily mix up your tweets since the common thread is photography.

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TJ McDowell January 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm

If I were to tweet, it would be targeted at a photographer audience. I just think people probably wouldn’t want to follow me if all I was doing was posting links to my blog posts. I see what you’re saying about finding other useful content and retweeting that – that could work. I probably should just start following some other people to see what kind of content they put out.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I wonder if the reason that I don’t feel that there are too many notifications or that the feed is out of control is because I don’t look at my Twitter home page. I look at specific lists that I’ve created and my @mentions but that’s it. I do agree with some of the other bloggers who have commented that I need to start using HootSuite. I think that will make my Twitter life even easier to manage.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Who Should You Like- Follow and Connect WithMy Profile

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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
January 11, 2011 at 12:50 am

Hi Sherryl,

Twitter has been okay for my business and at the moment will be keeping it as a tactic. The one challenge is connecting with others in different time zones. I also think it is becoming a little like TV advertising and rather nosy so it will become more important to work out what you want to get out of it with the time you have available.

That said today I saw a good side to Twitter. We have really bad floods in one state of Australia at the moment and people used Twitter to update others, alert them and offering practical help. In a couple of cases people not only offered accommodation, but also to help others in business to keep them going while the problems exist.
Susan Oakes recently posted..How do You See YourselfMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm

What a great example of Twitter! I agree about the time zones. It can be a challenge. Although you and I have managed to exchange emails back and forth despite you being in Australia and me in Massachusetts. Seems like most bloggers and solepreneurs don’t work 9 to 5 or even Monday through Friday.

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Shannon January 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I think twitter can be productive and be much more targeted than some other social media sites but it must be done correctly. Content is important but I found your article very interesting and led to several conversations with colleagues. Thanks

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for the feedback Seattle Tree. Actually, I wish I could use your real name. It would make it more social. :)

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Amr Boghdady January 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Sherryl,
Its funny, cause just a couple of hours ago I was checking my Google Analytics to see how the traffic from Twitter has been going, and here are my last month’s results:
Visits: 366
Pages/Visit: 2.16
Bounce Rate: 76.50%

Although all of the followers I have are supposed to be targeted people that are interested in my niche, I’m still having a Twitter bounce rate of 76.50%, as opposed to FB’s 41.05%!
Its still a part of my social networking strategy, but if it continues that way, then I might completely give up on it sometime soon..

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

Hi Amr,
Twitter is bound to work better for some bloggers than others. Sounds like whatever decision you come to, you have stats to back it up. That’s the key! Thanks for joining the conversation.

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Randy Pickard
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Sherryl – Here is a glass half full, half empty anecdotal report on Twitter. A recent guest post I authored for a popular blog has been Tweeted 40 times. Those 40 tweets have led to 33 click-thrus to the article. Thus, the glass half full is 33 readers found the article due to Twitter. However, on average each Tweet received less that one click, and some to the Tweeters have hundreds of followers. Yikes, now that click thru rates have dropped below 1%, it requires either a huge base of followers or a deeply engaged group of followers to obtain a meaningful number of clicks from a Tweet.
Randy Pickard recently posted..What You Can Learn From Alexa Trend ReportsMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Randy, I’m aiming for a deeply engaged group of followers. Would you consider trying what John Paul suggests and dump Twitter for 30 days? It would be an interesting experiment!

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Randy Pickard
Twitter:
January 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm

For me, reading Twitter posts has recently become a hugely addicting distraction. However, I am fasinated by the paper.li summaries that have been developed by some major Twitter heavy hitters. I think my time would be much better spent if I spent more time reading the paper.li posts that are being curated by users that spend a lot of time on Twitter, and by also giving more attention to the RSS feeds I subscrible to. So, yes I would be a willing candidate to give up Twitter for 30 days. It would put me in good company, as both Bryson Meunier (mobile SEO guru) and Matt Cutts (Google Chief Spam cop) have recently suggested doing so.
Randy Pickard recently posted..Buying Backlinks – Do Not Try This At HomeMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

It would be interesting to hear if a 30-day hiatus from Twitter changes your mind. Please keep us posted. Thanks Randy.

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Catarina Alexon
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Sherryl I only use it for letting my approx 1,400 followers know when I publish an article – nothing else. That was my idea from the beginning and that’s all I’m doing. Never even look at what tweets I’m getting. Am however pretty certain that if I did, Twitter would start annoying me since a lot of it is rubbish.

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Angie Perez January 9, 2011 at 2:31 am

Catarina,

It somewhat disturbs me that you’re not engaging your followers on twitter and by your own admission, you describe the people you follow as not providing interesting content (rubbish). I can understand how you feel about Twitter and of one of it’s original uses as an rss feed, but I’m curious: are you growing your following? Do you engage your followers elsewhere as on your blog?

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keyuri joshi
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Social media in general simply sucks up way too much of my time. That is the first deterrant. THe second one is that I don’t always understand how best to utilize it and learning all the “how to’s” sucks up even more time. For these reasons, I tend to underutilize twitter. THis post gives me reason to re-think if I’m missing an opportunity. My gut feeling tells me that I’m not. I target my blog posts and important information to more direct parenting sites and so far that seems to be paying off. Maybe twitter would afford me more of those types of people…. Hmmmm need to really think about twitter moving forward.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Keyuri, I spend a fraction of the time on Twitter that I spend on any other networking tool. Twitter has become a habit for me. I try to tweet a few times a day but I’m not obsessed by it. My main 2 reasons for tweeting are to build awareness of my blog and to support and help build awareness for that core group of bloggers that I consider my community. Since the bloggers that I RT for are knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, I believe I bring value to my followers by RTing for them.

Are you part of a community on some of the parenting sites that you target? Are there other bloggers that participate on those sites? Maybe twitter wouldn’t work for you but a lot of successful bloggers do use it as one tool in their social networking arsenal.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 11:58 am

John, Good to see you back! Glad to hear Twitter isn’t a distraction for you. I find myself being distracted less as I’ve started to make rules for myself. If someone follows me now and the # of people they are following greatly exceeds their number of followers, I delete the notice and don’t even bother to look at their profile. Little things like that are helping me to spend less time on it.

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Max January 8, 2011 at 6:37 am

I voted for twittter being a waste of time. I didn’t notice that any results of social networking depend on it, truly. When something is overused it bocomes useless. That’s my point of view.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Max,
I appreciate your candidness. You are certainly not alone feeling that Twitter is a waste of time.

One of the reasons that I find Twitter valuable is that I know of several readers here who found me through RTs of my posts. It’s those types of connections that are difficult to measure but they are important to me. As I blog, I have found that there is a real community building here. Those are the people that I am building relationships with and they are the people who I promote and follow on Twitter.

Great discussion here!

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James Lynch January 7, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hi Sherryl,
Awesome Post…Awesome Blog…
I did an article on Twitter Widgets…Some of them are pretty cool..

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Interesting list James. Thanks for sharing. Two Twitter tools that I use are JustUnfollow and TWUnfollow. I use JustUnfollow (to identify and unfollow people who aren’t following me) about once a month. I just signed up for TWUnfollow when Tia from BizChickBlogs wrote a post on it. This tool is new to me. It will email me when someone unfollows me.

(So far, I’m encouraged! Since i signed up, no one has unfollowed me yet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. This is a stat I have never tracked.)

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Janet Callaway
Twitter:
January 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Like anything new, twitter takes time. It works for both B2B and B2C. However, a person needs to define their target market and decide on a game plan. Time will not be well spent nor will it be effective if a person thinks “oops, it’s time to tweet.” Instead, have a plan. Know how many useful/entertaining links you want to tweet each day, how many new people you want to engage with, how many people you will help by answering questions, et. Also, make sure to use the search button. twitter will give back value if you put value into it.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Janet, I tweet useful links a lot but I don’t really tweet links that are entertaining and I don’t answer questions unless they’re directed to me. I’d be interested in hearing how you find questions to answer. Are you searching Twitter fro questions in your area of expertise?

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Peter J January 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I’ve found twitter to be a good way of keeping up with your followers all over the place. I love keeping up on the mentions page and see where I’m being talked about, then i can respond to them.
Overall i think it’s a great tool for communication; i wouldn’t call it a distraction… too much :)

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thanks Peter. I like your description of Twitter as a communication tool. That’s right-on!

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John Paul Aguiar
Twitter:
January 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Twitter is one of those things, you not to sure how well it’s working, untill you stop using it for a month.

Then you realize just how much Twitter helps your blog or business.

For anyone that thinks Twitter isnt working for them,, then dump it for 30 days… and see what difference it has on your blog/business.. that is the only real way to see of your time on Twitter is helping or hindering you.

Hard part is walking away for 30 days lol Not sure I could do that.. I would need a support group to keep me sane lol
John Paul Aguiar recently posted..Overcome Blogging Fears To Have Success In 2011My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for dropping by John Paul! So much of Twitter is difficult to measure that your suggestion to dump it is right on. I don’t need to be convinced though. The # in Google Analytics that shows direct referrals is just a glimpse into what is happening. I’d need to join a support group too if I were to stop connecting on Twitter!

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Ileane
Twitter:
January 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Hi Sherryl,

I’m a Twitter addict and I spend lots of time there. Recently I’m learning that it can be a great discovery tool when combined with other services like Amplify and One True Fan. The strategy for me has always been – Learning, Teaching and Connecting. Twitter is a great platform to help me reach all three of those goals.
Thanks for the poll.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Ileane,
You and I both follow each other, connect on Facebook, Amplify for each other and comment on some of the same blogs. I definitely count you as one of the people in my blogging community. Thanks for dropping by!

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Wes Towers
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm

When I started using Twitter, I really had a plan and I spent a considerable amount of time tweeting, retweeting, following people and sending direct messages. Then, it got to a time when I thought I was spending too much time on it without getting much results. So, I sort of abandoned it (though not completely). Now, have established a system where I spend 15 minutes on Twitter at the start of my day, another fifteen at the middle part and 30 minutes before I close shop. So, I guess that means I am not giving up on Twitter and have made it part of my marketing plan, Sherryl. :D

- Wes -
Wes Towers recently posted..The Ultimate Personal Trainers BrochureMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Sounds like a strategy to me Wes! My strategy is similar. I’ve recently become conscious of #FF follow-Fridays too. That takes so little time and is really valuable. It’s a nice way of acknowledging other bloggers. Often times, they will return the favor.

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Mark January 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I have yet to get too much out of twitter, but I kind of just jumped in and started tweeting. I am not too sure how to gain followers but I need to look into it some more. I am glad to see it works for you!

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Good luck Mark! There’s a lot of people who are using Twitter to build awareness and drive traffic to their blog using Twitter. One blogger that I’ve learned a lot from is John Paul Aguiar. (He’s commented below and I recommend following him.) I believe the key is to get the right followers and not just accumulate numbers.

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louis January 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

Twitter can be valuable when it comes to brand management or if your business by nature requires lots of updates. In Chicago there is a gourmet food wagon that tweets whenever it changes location – Twitter is a fantastic resource for them. However, I have had furniture retail shops target me when i tweeted i was moving and it just seemed unnecessary and disingenuous – they didn’t actually care about me moving and had no connection. Updates for things like new content and geo location are great, but if your business isn’t social by nature — twitter might not be the best use of your time

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 11:45 am

Great example Louis. It immediately brings to mind Ellen Degeneres. Her twitter campaign involving contests at different locations is brilliant.

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Johanna January 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

Hi Sherryl,
I think you know I am one of those who haven’t given up on it yet. :) It sure takes a lot of my time, though.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

It does take time. I’m depending more and more on Twitter lists to manage my time. I usually tweet from posts that I’ve read but I have listed a group of bloggers who I can always go to for great posts. By scanning their tweets, I can usually find something new to read about and RT.

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John January 5, 2011 at 6:40 am

I definitely did not have a plan when I started using Twitter. I guess this is because I really looked at Twitter as a way to improve my social status instead of using it to build a brand and develop an online community.

With that being said, I think Twitter is a distraction for me but sends me a small amount of referrals. Utilizing Twitter effectively is just like any other marketing strategy.

You have to have a clear plan in mind and you must focus on one certain goal for using Twitter, which is to engage with more online users and build your community. I know for me, once I understood this I found myself getting distracted a lot less.

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Joseph Archibald January 5, 2011 at 1:35 am

Its really not been any good for my needs, but then I don’t put any time into it because I’m too busy on other aspects of my business. You know that already though Sherryl so I’m merely re-iterating :-)

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 11:36 am

I respect that Joseph. From following your blog, I’m aware that you know where your traffic is coming from and what is generating income for you and I think I understand why Twitter would probably not have value to you. Thanks for being so honest.

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Angie Perez January 5, 2011 at 1:05 am

Twitter gives me access to people I normally wouldn’t have access to like authors who actually manage their social media streams. I get to be a fly on the wall and monitor or jump in on conversations. For a new brand like me and having started more than one small business in life time, I have had the most success with generating web leads by dropping headlines in my twitter stream and engaging possible clients. My business is B to B, so twitter works well for me. I love it and divide my time evenly among Facebook and Twitter.

By the way, someone I follow refer me to this poll and blog post. :-)

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 11:33 am

You bring up an interesting point Angie. I wonder if Twitter is more valuable to people who target B2B rather than B2C. When I think about it, that’s the community that I’m trying to build – other like minded business people who want to exchange information and help each other grow their businesses.

Thanks for letting me know how you found me.

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Angie Perez January 9, 2011 at 2:20 am

I am not sure if someone mentioned this, but twitter is a great way to monitor what people are saying about your brand. I know that Comcast, for example, helps resolve customer service issues if you tweet about them. The same is true for Godaddy. Both are big brands, but it makes for an interesting experience when you’re the consumer trying to get a get an answer to a question even if its simply a tweet.

Twitter makes cold calling warmer. I’ve been following other businesses and when I believe the relationship is warm enough for a phone call, I follow-up.

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Tia January 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Hey Sherryl,

So I wouldn’t say it’s a big source of referrals for Webbed Ink, but it definitely is for bizchickblogs.com. It’s not even really part of a “strategy” or anything; it just works out to bring in a decent amount of traffic!
Tia recently posted..Website Review- IndiMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

Hi Tia,
I think the fact that Twitter does bring in a decent amount of traffic makes it worthwhile. Something that I can’t really measure is the value of is the community that I’m building by following tweets from other bloggers like you. I have discovered informative blogs that I may never have found on my own by following some of your tweets. So, thanks! :)

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Dennis Salvatier
Twitter:
January 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Twitter has been the source for meeting new people, networking with other creatives and getting design referrals, so it’s definitely not a waste of time for me. It does take some time out of my day though.
Dennis Salvatier recently posted..3 Things That Made a Difference In 2010My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
January 5, 2011 at 11:26 am

It sounds like Twitter is worthwhile for you Dennis. I know I appreciate your RTs and I RT for you. Since our niches are different (but complimentary), it gives both of us the opportunity to have our posts exposed to different readers.

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Randy Pickard
Twitter:
January 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Please be gentle in flaming me for this comment, but it seems to me that due to the increase in noise to signal ratio on Twitter that it has peaked as a blog marketing tool. Twitter is not going away, but I think it will require adding ever more followers to obtain the same number of clicks.

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