How Much Time Does Twitter Really Take?

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know I am an enthusiastic Twitter user. I have previously written about why, so I won’t repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that I believe Twitter offers an unparalleled opportunity for brand-building, social networking, and customer engagement.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/slobo, Image #7465953

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/slobo

But at what cost? you may be thinking.

Obviously, the service itself is free. I don’t know how much longer the folks at Twitter can sustain this business model. Eventually, they will have to monetize it or the service will go away. But in the meantime, it costs you or your business nothing.

The learning curve itself is also inexpensive. You can get get the hang of it in less than 30 minutes. In fact, I wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter as a 20-minute introduction, because I got tired of repeating the basics to new users.

But what about the time it takes to Twitter? Ah, yes, “the time.”

This is the standard objection from people who haven’t actually tried the service. “How do you find the time to Twitter?” they ask. In my experience, it takes me less than 30 minutes a day.

Here’s how the math works out. I am a pretty active Twitterer. I average about 13 tweets a day. Most tweets take me 15–30 seconds each. (Yes, I have timed them.) Don’t forget, you only have 140 characters. It can’t take much time. Nevertheless, let’s be conservative and assume that it takes me 30 seconds for each tweet.

Thirteen times 30 is 6.5 minutes. I probably spend another 15 minutes a day scanning other people’s tweets and responding to direct messages or replies. Even then, I am doing this during “down time”—early in the morning as I am reading, in between meetings or projects during the day, or in the evening as a way of relaxing. All total, that’s just over 20 minutes.

In my opinion, that’s not a big investment of time, especially for the benefits I receive. But that’s the subject of another post.

Question: If you are using Twitter, how much time do you invest a day? Do you think it is worth the investment?
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  • Nicole

    I don’t spend much time tweeting, but I do take a while to read everyone else’s feeds. At least, it seems to take a long time because I do most of it in one sitting.

  • stacey

    Love Twitter and the people I have met through it. No other tool out there allows a SAHM like me the chance to chat with so many people of influence, like yourself. I think it is an amazing tool.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    I don’t use twitter, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of time throughout the day…

  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    I have found that with a smart phone its easier to use twitter to post content. I still am learning abut Twitter but know the benefits of using Twitter.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Well, if you just use Twitter to post bromidic run-of-the-mill tweetfare, such as giving a quick weather update, announcing what you’re having for dinner, or sharing a link, it takes very little time. Otherwise, tweeting is work. My latest tweet took me five minutes and three re-writes to get it right and stay within the limit. (“In commism, the govern ant controlifies the marked place. In capitalicism, the prizes of goods and badices are determinated by suppland.”)

    Don’t forget, you only have 140 characters. It can’t take much time. (Michael Hyatt)

    I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. (Mark Twain)

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  • http://www.virtualassistant.org/ VA Cresilda

    I usually spend not more than an hour for twitter. It’s kinda hard to create a tweet of less than 140 characters but as you get used to it, you’ll have your messages concise and direct to the point. Also, spending more time reading others tweets makes your twitter experience much better. More listening and less talking.

  • http://twitter.com/giselleaguiar Giselle Aguiar

    Absolutely! I built my Twitter following from about 180 in mid May to 828 at last count. My main goal is promote my debut novel (printed by WestBow BTW), but you have to give your receive. I Tweet scripture, RT other book & blog promos as well as other news and helpful tweets. I stay away from personal stuff. Folks really don’t need to know what I had for dinner. Sometimes, I do lose track of time reading Tweets (I follow over 1600 people!) And I need to say time to get some work done! 

  • http://necessarymiscellany.wordpress.com/ John Herndon

    I use Twitter for casual tweeting (personal updates, blog links, etc.) and reading others’ posts for 20-30 minutes per day tops (mostly spread out through “down time”) and it is definitely worth it!

    I have learned SO much from the people I follow and thoroughly enjoy it!

  • Marilyn

    I tried Twitter a couple of years ago, but then my enthusiasm dwindled away and for some time I left it alone. Now, I’m back and I am finding what I found before and more. Great little snippets of information shared by so many people. Lots of links to follow and plenty to think about. It also gives me a forum to share with others and no pressure to spend lots of time.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Twitter has become a much more useful tool as it’s evolved. I’m glad you’re back, Marilyn. :)

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  • http://date-masters.com/blog/first-date-advice/first-date-advice-when-she-wants-to-hang-out-in-a-group/ John Robie

     Having the 15-30 seconds times 13 tweets per day really gives me an idea of the metrics I need to shoot for. Thanks for sharing, now following =P

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  • http://rickwolff.com Rick Wolff

    I throttled back on my Twitter use when I realized I was expected to be marketing something, like everyone else. I just wanted to talk with people. It’s all but impossible now.

  • Rajdeep Paulus

    I joined Twitter with much hesitation, but I’m so glad I did. Sometimes I like to tweet things to make others smile. Mostly I link fresh blog posts. I find it takes very little time and it’s been a great way to connect with other writers and readers I would have never found otherwise. The only thing that I can’t totally determine is how to know when to “follow back” … Ideally, I want to only follow folks I’m interested in, but I feel myself often clicking the “follow” button out of some kind of unspoken obligation. Am I the only one?

    Also, I appreciated what I read about Tweeting early on: If you only have 140 characters to say something to the world, keep it fresh and keep it positive. The world could use more of that… 

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  • disqus_W4KjfaOksA

    Thanks for the post, Michael. Yes, I do use Twitter and I find it beneficial. It drives a lot of traffic to my website, though it does tend to be people from other countries. I also find Twitter to be excellent for sourcing material to share with my connections.

  • http://returntovirtues.com Adrian T Dayton

    Thats my favorite part of Twitter, it generates instant blog traffic.