After 30 Days of Blogging, How Useful is Twitter for Attracting Readers?

  • April 16, 2009 by Corbett Barr
  • 5 Comments

I tweet. Do you follow me?

How do new blogs attract readers? Does Twitter live up to all the hype about being a great promotional tool?

There’s no question that Twitter has become a wildly popular service. It’s now a more popular search term on Google than Britney Spears. For all its popularity though, people still constantly ask me what Twitter is useful for, especially people who aren’t trying to promote or sell anything.

There are plenty of self-proclaimed experts who tell you (on Twitter by the way) that Twitter is the secret to becoming the next top 100 blog or big celebrity.

The truth after 30 days of blogging is that it’s not as useful for attracting an audience as you might hope, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using it.

First, some background

This blog launched about 30 days ago. On the same day it launched, I started tweeting from a new account. Since then, @corbettbarr has gained about 400 followers.

I’ve faithfully tweeted at least a few times per day, and have posted a total of 147 updates. My updates are generally on the same topics as the blog (flexible careers, lifestyle design, freelancing, entrepreneurship, work-life balance).

Whenever I post a new blog entry, I announce via Twitter that there’s a new post, and occasionally I repeat the announcement later the same day.

Where do readers come from?

Twitter isn’t the top source of readers to Free Pursuits. In fact, it’s barely in the top 5. This is despite the fact that aside from blogging, I’ve spent more time on Twitter than on any other potential source of traffic.

Facebook has proven to be the most useful tool for promoting this blog so far. I have fewer Facebook friends than I have Twitter followers (and I reserve Facebook for real life friends), and yet Facebook accounts for 5x the number of blog visitors than I get from Twitter.

Here’s a breakdown of the top sources of traffic to Free Pursuits:

  1. Facebook: 25%
  2. Other blogs: 12% (from trackbacks and comments)
  3. Search engines: 11% (Google is by far the biggest source)
  4. LinkedIn: 6%
  5. Twitter: 5%

Keep in mind that Free Pursuits currently has a modest audience of hundreds of visitors. As the audience grows these traffic sources will likely change places dramatically. Twitter will definitely move up in rankings.

Also, there are other metrics that matter of course. Twitter visitors compare favorably to other sources in the areas of pages per visit, time on site and bounce rate. I won’t go into the details of what those metrics mean, but you other bloggers out there will know what I’m talking about.

Should you expect Twitter to be a silver bullet?

I’m definitely not a Twitter expert, and I’m sure there are plenty of things I could be doing to get more from the platform.

For instance, I could be out actively following hundreds or thousands of people in the hopes that they will follow me back. That seems to be how so many “internet marketers” out there have amassed upwards of 10,000 followers.

What is the quality of that audience though? If someone with over 10,000 followers follows you back, what is the chance that they will ever read your tweets?

Would I have spent so much time using Twitter, if I had known that it wouldn’t be a major source of readers? Definitely. Traffic is not the only benefit of using Twitter.

There’s a lot of talk in the blogosphere about other benefits of using Twitter. It has also been a great way to find out what other people think about topics covered at Free Pursuits. It has also been a great way to meet influential people in the space.

I’m still expecting that eventually Twitter will become a top source of new blog traffic. For now, I’m willing to keep tweeting and see.

Follow me on Twitter and become a part of the experiment!

How useful is Twitter for you? Tell us in the comments!

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Luke G April 18, 2009 at 8:56 am

twitter can be a great tool to help build your community, but keep in mind that it should probably be a long term part of your plans. A month on twitter is nothing, really. Think of it more like SEO – the benefits take time to accrue. It’s also not just a visitor acquisition tool, but a way to communicate and build deeper relationships with your existing community, too.

Corbett Barr April 18, 2009 at 11:27 am

Great points, Luke. I look forward to using Twitter for a number of different reasons. Maybe I’ll follow up with more results as I see them.

-Corbett

Jeremy April 20, 2009 at 7:27 am

I completely agree with your assessment that it’s not the silver bullet. I also agree with Luke’s comment. Each piece of the social networking puzzle has benefit and can build up buzz.

My recommendation would be to find tools that allow you to use Twitter efficiently. This will increase your return on investment in the tool. There are many tools that allow you to tweet new posts automatically. There are tools that allow you to schedule tweets in the future. On my blog Refocusing Technology we have reviewed a few of those tools but there are many out there that can help you.

If you can limit the amount of time to put information on Twitter, the return is greatly increased. Then you can spend even more time on building other channels to create traffic!

Best of luck.
Jeremy @ RefocusingTechnology.com

Corbett Barr April 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Jeremy, thanks for the advice about using tools to make my time on Twitter more productive. I’m using TweetDeck currently, but haven’t looked into many other tools. Lately my biggest issue with Twitter has been its lack of reliability.

-Corbett

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