Is This a Twitter Thread or a Blog Post?

Eureka! I just had a great idea for a blog post… or wait.. maybe it’s short enough to be a Twitter thread. Y’know what? Twitter’s easier. I’ll just post it there. The instant dopamine hit of likes and retweets. The mystery of whether and when I’ll get replies. Re-loading the post every 5 minutes to see if there’s a new reply.

Did that thread bring me any new followers? I should check my Followerwonk graph.

What about now? It’s been 30 minutes. Surely I have more… dammit. Crickets.

I should have made it a blog post. But it’s so much more work! Or wait… maybe it isn’t. It feels like more work? Maybe the character limit just makes me a sharper writer.

Should *You* Make a Blog Post, a Tweet Thread, or Both?

My neurosis aside, for creators in tech, marketing, and dozens of other fields, this is a legitimate question that causes more stress than it should. Broadly, it’s not just Twitter vs. blog, it’s “where should I publish a short form piece of content?” A LinkedIn or Facebook post (which support somewhat longer-form content), a LinkedIn article, or even a TikTok/YouTube video vs. a self-hosted Wistia video on your blog could be part of this same equation.

First, let’s break down the benefits & drawbacks of social posts vs. blog posts.

Social Posts: Benefits

  • Native content outperforms anything else on social, due to both algorithmic and human biases
  • Engagement is nearly instantaneous; you’ll see the likes, RTs, shares, etc right away
  • Native social posts are the best way to grow your social audience (helping you reach more people in the future)
  • They’re low-friction and fast to compose
  • They’re rarely measured with the same high bar that website content is (both by individual creators and by businesses or those who hire agencies)

Social Posts: Drawbacks

  • They have virtually no staying power; 48 hours after even the most viral of social posts, they’re gone
  • They almost never rank in search, limiting any long-term ROI from the content’s value
  • They’re much less helpful at driving behaviors beyond engagement on the social platform itself and more followers. If your goals are collecting email signups or any other type of website conversion, friction is high and CTR low.
  • While it’s technically possible to do marketing for your social posts (asking folks to share it, engage with it, spread it, embedding it in other mediums, etc), in practice, it’s vanishingly rare and not part of Internet marketing culture (which makes it more difficult to do).
  • Temporal factors (and raw luck) have a far greater impact on social post success and failure. A post at the right time might do extremely well, while the same post a few hours later falls flat. A “like” or share from the right account can do the same thing.
  • All things considered, social posts are vulnerable to the whims of the timeline algorithms and the ebb & flow of “conversation” amongst your audience; not exactly reliable factors.

Blog Posts/Articles: Benefits

  • Your content lasts. Blog posts can be referenced for decades, and passively produce value for you/your company in the background
  • They can rank in search engines, earn links, help your new content rank better, build your platform’s authority, all the things required for a great content/SEO flywheel
  • Posts/articles are lower friction and higher authority as reference-able citation sources. Social posts rarely pass muster for this purpose
  • They serve as far better vehicles to host substantive, multimedia content (unique research, data, charts & graphs, embedded video, etc)
  • They live on your platform, so you can control the UI, UX, calls to action, marketing pixels, etc.
  • Re-targeting, re-marketing, and behavioral-aware content are possible with users who’ve engaged on your site (but not on social)
  • Blogs/articles serve as a universal hub for content, whereas social networks often require an account, even to view public posts (this problem is only getting worse)
  • Blogs/articles earn “back catalogue consumption,” and the benefits, outreach, invitations, and conversions that driven by such consumption. Social posts, due to their temporal nature, almost never do.

Blog Posts/Articles: Drawbacks

  • They’re a lot of work. Consider this post you’re reading – it could probably be a short, less comprehensive, less useful thread on Twitter that took me 10 minutes to compose. This post took a good 3 hours to write, think about, come back to, edit, and publish.
  • Quality bar. Even the shortest, lowest-effort blog post is expected (by readers, publishers, and anyone in the content business) to hit a higher level of refinement, value, grammar, spelling, etc. than a Tweet, Facebook, or IG post.
  • Social platform algorithms bias against them. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Reddit – all of the networks work actively (through lack of link sharing permission like TikTok and IG) or passively (through anti-link algorithms) to keep posts with links from performing as well as those without.
  • Social platform user bias. Similarly to the above, social networks have trained their users (over the last 10 years especially) to dislike leaving the platform and waiting for another site to load, navigate through GDPR popups, deal with potential ads or paywalls, etc.

How Do You Choose?

Try this:

Step One: Start every meaningful content idea as a short social post (a Tweet, Twitter Thread, or LinkedIn/FB post is perfect)

Step Two: After you’ve composed it, run through three criteria:

  • A) Will this content be useful to my audience for months and years to come?
  • B) Are people searching for this content now or in the near future?
  • C) Will this content resonate with folks who already subscribe to my blog/newsletter/platform?

If the answers to 2+ of those is “Yes,” go write the blog post/article/newsletter version on your own platform.

Step Three: Once you’ve written the blog post/article/newsletter version, post it as short-form Tweet thread (and/or social posts on whatever platforms best reach your audience). End the thread/post with a link to the full version.

Why Not Both?

YES! Using blog posts/articles as the central content repository, and boosting their reach with social media marketing in the formats the networks love is absolutely the ideal way to go. Just be strategic about it. Here’s my favorite process:

The social algorithms want to create addiction, reward creators for earning engagement on the platform, and prevent anyone from leaving. So… play to that!

Use their biases to earn the engagement, increased following, and dopamine hits from native social posts. Then leverage the engagement you earn with links back to the “full” content that benefits you and your brand.

This system works in harmony with what social networks reward and how creators earn benefit.

My biggest fear around native social vs. blogs and articles is that I’ve found the lower-friction, high engagement, dopamine-hit nature of Tweet threads so addicting that I’m now working to justify reasons why I choose them over what I know, deep down, is more valuable: content creation on our own platform.

Over on Twitter, I asked folks why they write tweet threads instead of blog posts/articles when they know the latter would provide more benefit?

I’ll bet money that post gets more “engagement” (defined as views, clicks, RTs, likes, and replies) than this blog post does. And I’ll bet twice as much that this post has greater value for SparkToro and all the broad long and short-term goals we have as a team than a tweet thread on this topic with 100X the engagement.

Laziness? Motivated reasoning? Guilty as charged. But maybe I can turn it around and start publishing more here in ways that better serve a long-term audience vs. my need for daily likes.

P.S. Our VP Marketing, Amanda, added some additional, conflicting thoughts, specifically on the topic of using viral Tweet threads and promotional social posts (for one’s newsletter/email list):

Katelyn Bourgoin had a viral thread last month that got her something like 1K newsletter subscribers overnight! And anytime I plug my newsletter, I’ll get anywhere from 20-50 signups that day.”