twitter feedIt’s official: Twitter feeds and sidebars are the worst couple since Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphreys.

(Yes, I’m serious and no, I’ve never actually watched the show.)

I say this because last week I invited anyone on my newsletter list to send me their website URL and I would reply with a  very quick analysis of their site’s biggest weaknesses.

45 minutes after the email was sent, I had about 25 responses already in my inbox.

Did I bite off more than I could chew? No, but after 40+ websites and  5 hours of analysis, I was able to see dozens of different industry sites and also some very disturbing trends (more on that in the coming weeks), with one of the worst offenders being mind-boggling Twitter feeds (aka ‘Steams’ and ‘Timelines’) that kept popping up in the most inconvenient of places.

Waiting for the Twitter Magic

But hey, I get it, I really do. 2 years ago, when I started with inbound marketing, I heard all about Twitter. That was when I, like many businesses, opened up an account (for my swimming pool company), put a Twitter ‘follow me’ button on our website’s sidebar, and waited for the magic to happen.

After 30 days of almost no results, I got the grand Idea to put my real-time Twitter feed in the sidebar instead of just the simple ‘follow-me’.

Again, no dice. No leads. No prospects or customers ever mentioned it. Very few people followed. It was an utter fail.

You see, the sad reality is that too many people have drunk the Twitter Kool-Aid and grossly overestimate its value when it comes to web design and conversions.

Here’s why:

7 Reasons Why Putting a Twitter Feed in Your Sidebar is a Really Dumb Idea

1. That’s Prime Real-Estate!!!: When it comes to the web and conversions (converting a visitor into an actual lead), proper placement of call-to-action buttons, forms, etc. is a huge deal. For example, with most blogs and websites, great calls-to-action (like newsletter subscription buttons) are on the upper right side of the page in the column area or located just after the main content itself. Notwithstanding, many businesses have taken up this prime ‘conversion’ space with tweets that almost never lead to ‘action’ from a visitor. Think about it for a second: Would you rather people read one of your tweets or have them give you their email address and contact information?

2. People Don’t Know What the Heck Twitter Is: That’s right. It’s easy for someone who uses the platform 24/7 to think the entire world is on there, but the fact is they’re not, and it’s not even close. Heck, 90%+ of the twitter accounts ever created aren’t even actively being used.

Do some industries see a very high amount of active users on Twitter? Yes, that may be true, but they’re almost always marketing and social media niches, not average Joe business owners and consumers.  In fact, a large majority of the world still can’t look at a Twitter stream without getting completely confused with the odd culture that’s found therein. Again, this is just how it is.

3. Four-Week Old Tweets Make You Look Lazy: Here is what was really bad about most of the Twitter streams I saw in the sidebars—They were practically dead. Some had not even been updated for 2 or 3 months! Think about the impression a visitor to your site gets when they see you don’t even take the time to update your account (assuming they even know what it is).

4. There are a Thousand Better Options: Free eBook? A powerfully written report? What about a webinar sign up, or a list of popular blog posts, or even your newest Youtube video?

Here is the thing my friends: People come to your website to learn. They expect to be fed. They expect to receive answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. This is the essence of inbound and content marketing.

You can either give this to them through clean content (in a variety of forms), or you can imagine them reading your tweets and being so enthralled that they beg for your business immediately. I don’t know about you, but I’ll choose the power of great content any day of the week.

5. Why Send them Away?: This one is a no-brainer. If you’re sharing content on your Twitter stream that’s linking to another website, and someone actually clicks on that link, you’ve now likely lost them. Or, at the very least, they’re now pretty darn distracted.

Although there are proper occasions to link to other articles from your site, this is certainly not one of them.

6. Clutter is Bad: That’s right, too much of anything is a bad idea, and this is especially true when discussing Twitter and sidebars. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has done a phenomenal job of discussing this issue of sidebar effectiveness in detail, but the fact is, simpler sidebars with less choices have higher conversion rates the majority of the time.

7. What’s the End Goal?: Right now, you should be able to look at every page of your website and make one simple statement: The main goal of this page is to……

This being said, if anything doesn’t align with your goals, you drop it. Yes, that’s right, just let it go. Once you truly understand your goals, especially on an individual page basis, the clarity of design and layout will be clearer than ever. You’ll better know the calls-to-action, photos, and content that lends itself to success, and you’ll also be able to intelligently ignore the ‘social media checklist’ that grows longer each and every day.

I’m Not a Twitter Hater

Some of you right now are thinking I’m anti-Twitter. This isn’t the case. I love the medium and appreciate its capabilities and potential.

But just because you and I love something doesn’t mean it makes business sense, especially when it comes to website design and conversions.

Your Turn:

I’ve been brutally honest in my opinion here with respect to Twitter streams/feeds in sidebars and now I’d love to hear your frank thoughts on the matter as well. Should they be there? If so, why? If not, why? Would you add anything to my list above? C’mon, share your thoughts everyone. :-)

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154 thoughts on “7 Reasons Having a Twitter Feed in Your Sidebar is a Really Dumb Idea

  1. Loving the brutal honesty here Marcus … :) Funny how I’d love that eh?

    Yes yes yes! #5 especially … why send people away from you site – ALSO Another reason NOT to have your twitter steam in your side bar is that it limits your conversations – or at least it should – do you really need the world to see you joking around with someone? On the same note, do you really want to gag your twitter conversations because they are appearing in real time on your site?

    I think this is a VERY interesting subject … the prime real estate that is your side bar is WHERE you can sing it loud and proud just how awesome you are …

    I’d definitely add that removing the Facebook like box with all the smiley faces … same thing … noise directing you away from your site … but then I have become the sidebar nazi …

    • Ahh, the Facebook like box. I was about to write the same thing. If the goal is to keep your readers on your site then why give incentives to click away?

      • Yeah, speaking of that, I’m seriously considering letting it go as well, all a part of quantifying where the value is….and is not.

        Hope you’re doing well Ari.


        • But by that logic, Marcus, you shouldn’t have any links going off this blog. Every blog post should only have internal links.

          Logic sometimes needs to fail for things to happen.

          • There is certainly a time for outbound links Ari, I agree with that, but I think the 3 main reasons are:

            1. Supporting/networking with others
            2. Giving something of great value to your readers
            3. Supporting a claim

            Obviously, the FB page and social media buttons are up for quite a bit of debate, one in which I don’t have a solid opinion on yet.

            • I will say this, linking out is an important part of any good SEO strategy, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it! In no way should your site be the end of the line, you couldn’t possibly be the top and ond only authority on the subject.

              I did a test once, a site with hardly ANY inbound links (less than 20) and well over 800 outbound links to authority sites on the same topic. Was a PR 4 in a few short months….

              I know this is a little different than Twitter feeds (which I removed last week on mine), but your comment to not give readers incentives to click away is wrong. Give readers the best possible information, and if that means a link out then do it, if your info is quality stuff, they will be back…. again and again!

              • I don’t think anyone is saying outbound links are a bad idea, but I do think the consensus is they are a bad idea when used unwisely.

                My swimming pool company has less than 30 outbound links. It has thousands of inbound links. It’s doing fine. Also, PR ranking really means nothing when it comes to profits. Different industries naturally have lower PR and Alexis rankings (any blue collar), and I don’t feel that should be a gauge of true success.

                Thanks for you thoughts Keith and hope you have a wonderful Christmas man.


                • You are mistaken about PR, but that’s a totally different article/debate altogether. Outbound links to a twitter stream may or may not be of benefit, just because it didn’t work for your site doesn’t mean in won’t work for the next guy to grow his community.

                  If all we do is think “how can I get people here and then trap them into staying” then you are doing a huge diservice to your community and your readers. Once we start thinking about our site as just a funnel, then we have already lost……

    • You like brutal honesty Ameena?? Really?? ;-)

      I really like you point about limiting conversations. Potentials clients of mine don’t need to see may say “@ameenafalchetto LOL!!” ;-)

      Thanks for getting this conversation off to such a fiery start my friend!


  2. Hey! I have my Twitter stream on my blog. LOL!

    So all good points here Marcus but is there any value to having it? I mena, none at all?!? I am not selling anything on my blog, I dont have ebooks or webinars or books. Am I really ‘losing’ real estate here? And I am pretty active on Twitter (for those who are guilt of #3 – remove your Twitter stream immediately!) so I feel like people get a better sense of what I am all about beyond my blog. No? What would someone like me put there instead? Or is it better to have nothing?

    • Christina
      I will have to disagree here, you are selling yourself on your blog.
      You are the product.

      • I totally get your point! But how do I do that?

    • Hahaha, sorry to pick on ya Christina! ;-)

      To answer your question, I think it really depends, and as I said in the post, what’s your goal? If your goal is to build twitter followers, that may be fine. But if your goal is to build customers, then I’d say your strategy needs to change. So let me ask you CP, what’s the goal? :-)


      • Good question and I should have a good answer! My first goal was to get the blog up and to the point where I was excited about it. Second goal was to commit to posting content which sometimes is a challenge and continues to be a working goal. Third goal overall is to increase engagement and promote myself as a voice in the industry.

        Twitter followers is a not a goal but is always cool when our VP of Marketing says ‘man, you have a lot of followers. How did you do that?’ :)

        • Yeah, I see what you’re saying Christina, and I think the thing is that we all change our goals and strategies over time, so we really should have this conversation again in another 6-12 months. My feeling is we’ll both have quite a new (or further developed) take on the matter, which is what this is all about. :)

          Hope your Christmas is awesome Christina!!


  3. Did away with that a year ago – got tweetsimonials up now. I have taken a ton off my sidebar and it still feels like too much. Most important and right on top = email opt in box, about, facebook fan page, aff products, recent posts, top posts, comments (trying to find a plugin that posts them together in one – know any?), social media icons, tweetsimonials – in that order.
    Will be bunching the products together + that plugin if I can find it!

    • Tia, I really love how you seem to have a clear vision as to the most to least important items to your sidebar. To tell you the truth, I’d love to know how you came up with that priority chain. For example, you put FB over the Aff products, which some would argue with.

      As for the comments plugin, I really don’t know of a good one to use, Maybe someone could jump in with a suggestion on that one.

      Thanks for the comment Tia!


  4. Hi Marcus,

    The sidebar is the best selling real-estate of any blog. As people scroll down to read the post, what do they see?
    Exactly, so this is where the value you bring to your readers should show up.

    I removed anything that didn’t bring any value
    FB like pages? What value does that bring to my readers?
    Social media buttons? Again what value? The best way to find out how I can help you is by email, I can’t find out where you pain points are with a follow or a like.
    Search bar? It usually leads people to never find what they are looking for
    Testimonial? I would have them with an url or even better a separate page with videos (like you have), these days testimonials have lost a lot of credibility with fiverr jobs.

    I try to look at things as a reader and not a writer. When I arrive at a blog what do I want to see?
    It might hurt our ego a bit as bloggers but I think that’s the way forward.

    I love how you put videos in your sidebar it really shows your real value as a speaker.

    • “The best-selling real-estate of any blog”…Love how you put that John, and I think I’ll steal it for future use ;-)

      Speaking of all your other points, I’m still trying to figure out if I’m going to continue with my FB stuff…or not. Honestly, it’s up in the air. I’d like to know growth of one’s FB page by marketing to your list versus showing on blog. Hmmm, we should chat that one over my man. ;-)


    • First of all, by the way, I’m working on a site redesign and my current one is old and purposefully blander than my usual, so I could focus on the real reason for the site (my music). Although I have already simplified my sidebar, nothing’s as cool, cute or quite as optimized as it will be in a few weeks or so. (Writing this for my own ego, true, even though it’s bad to basically deter visits, ack.)

      Secondly, I know this is old, but I’m reading and so will others! My somewhat different POV might help.

      Anyway, as a blog reader, I love Twitter – and other social links. I want to see the social icons if I love a site, and will follow in at least one way (usually not email, usually Twitter).

      I even prefer to click to visit the actual site, and not just a remote follow, for my own reasons.

      Also, not everyone offers “help” in a direct way and not everyone seeks it beyond web copy (hopefully under great headlines and with bullet points, haha).

      “Search bar? It usually leads people to never find what they are looking for…”
      Probably true, but if I need it and can’t find it, I’m probably annoyed. Hopefully newer WP has improved this.

      “Testimonial? I would have them with an url or even better a separate page with videos (like you have), these days testimonials have lost a lot of credibility with fiverr jobs.”
      I have been thinking some about these, and I don’t know the best location, especially for every industry/content niche/whatever, but I’m thinking: short in height and as a slider (and a link is great, yes). *shrug* :)

      Hope this helps some with insight to an actual blog reader. (More than images, headlines and videos!! Not that I never feel “tl;dr.”)

  5. I love twitter but I totally agree with your points first of all. I use my twitter to bring people to my blog and not to sent them away so as you’ve said in # 5.

    Second i love # 2. to be honest, I used to have twitter feed before and here’s what I noticed NO ONE CLICKS it. They are not interested and if THEY CLICK IT. Congrats I’ve just lost a visitor. LOL! So since then I throw that plugin out my blog. THE END.

    These can be applied with Facebook Feed and other social media feeds as well. Same story. :)

    • Great points Valerie :-)

      Like you said, this is a principle that needs to be considered for anything we do online and with our sites. If it does not help us reach our end goal, or if it slows it down (via distraction), then we should likely let it go.

      Thanks for stopping by lady!


    • I don’t know about with feeds and flash things that don’t let me open a new tab (GRRR) but I always (try to) open a new tab, and am not a lost visitor! Plus if I follow on Twitter, I’ll find you again (and again)! :)

  6. Hi Marcus, Great post and lots of good points. In my case (PR business) I decided to include my Twitter stream on my blog, but not on my site. My site is for prospective clients, most of whom are not actively tweeting. My blog is also for prospects, but it’s also to help build my network with like-minded PR/SM professionals. I want them to read my blog, but I also want to connect with them on Twitter. Also, if you are going to put your Twitter stream on your site/blog, a good place to put it is in a box where people can select a number of things including most popular posts, tags, etc. When it’s designed in this fashion, it doesn’t take up too much valuable space on the right hand side of your site/blog. The other proviso you mention (and I totally agree with) is you have to keep your Twitter stream up to date, otherwise you just look foolish. I’m looking forward to the discussion on this one–I’m sure there will be lots.

    • Hey Shelley! I really like what you said about having a ‘tab’ option for the twitter feed. If someone is going to do it, then that’s the perfect way to show it to the folks that are interested, but keep it from cluttering the sidebar unnecessarily.

      Btw Shelley, as a PR person, have you read Gini Dietrich’s blog, Spin Sucks? For PR folks it’s exceptional.

      Thanks so much for leaving such a great comment!


      • I most certainly do know Gini and Spin Sucks. I like to steal, er, I mean adapt, the things she and Lisa do over there. That’s where I got the idea for the tabs. So we really should be crediting the Spin Sucks team for that great approach.

  7. Really strong points there Mane man. I agree with all of them. Mostly the ones about clutter, sending them away, email over twitter and the one about 4 week old tweets. I’ve seen a lot of those, and it definitely makes the site/blog seem like there’s no activity on it.

    • Yep, that’s exactly it Josh.

      Great to see you bud and hope your December is going well too my man!!


  8. You’re a man after my own heart Marcus. I am all about minimalist web design, keeping things clean and uncluttered, and limiting a visitor’s options.

    I have to thank Derek Halpern for a lot of that, but I’ve always had a passion for clean web design ever since I started back in the late 90s.

    So in conclusion, you’ll have no argument from me about Twitter feeds ;)

    • Oh and if I’m not too late to jump on the bandwagon, I would love your thoughts about my blog’s greatest weakness! :)

      …I know you wouldn’t say it’s the lack of a logo ;)

      • Hahahaha, you’re funny Tom. ;-) OK, I’ll swing by and shoot you some feedback later bud. :-)


    • I think the trend of ‘clean’ design is actually a biproduct of really what was the key to this article—Definite and clear goals with each page.

  9. Another great post, Marcus. It seems that all of our lives are so cluttered, and it can really be too much. Just like physical clutter keeps us from being focused, clutter on our websites distracts people from seeing the most important things.

    You wrote,

    “You can either give this to them through clean content (in a variety of forms), or you can imagine them reading your tweets and being so enthralled that they beg for your business immediately”

    This really made me laugh, and a good laugh is always appreciated, so thank you!

    Have a great day, Marcus!

    • Hahaha, thanks Rebecca. I’m all about a laugh, especially considering we’re not exactly discussing a life or death issue here, so we may as well have some fun while we’re debating the issue, ya know? ;-)

      And great analogy on the clutter Rebecca, yes, that’s exactly how it works.

      Appreciate your support lady!


  10. Having a Twitter feed in my sidebar has no relevance at all. I rather offer a solution that I could track and see if I’m creating more money online and Twitter is doing nothing like that for me.
    I just look at my blog as my central place where I can control everything on that website and Twitter is something I have no control over and sometimes I don’t tweet that much at all. If someone comes to my blog I want them to stay there and engage with me and my community.

    • Justice (awesome name btw), I love the word you used here—-TRACK…or ‘measure’ as we could also say.

      If we can’t really measure it, especially with all the tracking tools we have these days, then we really need to ask ‘why are we doing this??’

      Also, your point about having ‘control’ is an excellent one as well my man.

      Really great having you stop by Justice!


      • I love to track and measure everything that I do online. If I can’t measure it then I don’t want to do it. Yeah, you have to have control over your website because if you don’t then your just wasting your time.

  11. Hey Marcus,

    Well first of all, I did use to have a twitter feed on a previous blog I had and to be honest, I thought it was cool but because I actually used twitter regularly.

    Right now, the reasons for not including a live feed, are mostly because I think I tweet sometimes too much and not always marketing related.

    Sometimes I’m just having small chit chats with other marketers, which I think it wouldn’t bother anyone but I don’t feel I would benefit from having the feed there anyway.

    I am thinking and preparing a strategy to maintain different sites with different goals and this strategy includes finding a standard or at least a default setting that has the common features for any kind of site I build.

    The twitter feed is definitely something I wouldn’t include in that standard canvas site.

    Really cool thoughts, I wonder what the rest of the people with live feeds think about this.


    • Sergio, I’m digging your canvas project man, sounds awesome.

      Speaking of twitter feeds being ‘cool’, I honestly think that’s the reason why all of this started with the sidebar placement in the first place. Twitter was ‘fresh’ and people wanted to show they were on the cutting edge.

      But now that it’s not so ‘fresh’, we have to move past the cool and onto the ‘profitable’.

      Thanks so much for adding your thoughts Sergio!


      • I knew using the ‘cool’ word was going to bite me right on the ass hahaha

        Thank you for getting back at me Marcus, I completely dig your thought into moving from ‘cool’ to ‘profits’, smart thinking! ;-)


        PS. I just noticed the “Check if you think lions are cool” lol amazing stuff man!

  12. I tried doing that a long time ago before I had better things to put in my sidebar. I ended up taking it off because every time Twitter slows down or fail whales, your site will have some issues loading because of that Twitter feed. Just another reason to add to the list! :)

    • Ahhh, the dreaded ‘FAIL WHALE’!! Hahaha, love it Kristi, I totally forgot about that one. Perfect addition!

      Thanks so much,


  13. Very timely post for me Marcus. As one of those whose site you reviewed, and I thank you very much for it, I was tossing the twitter feed or not-to-twitter-feed around myself.

    I realized after I mocked up the new homepage for my agency, that I did not include it. It took all of a millisecond to realize I did not need or want it on my site. I think that in many cases it’s used as a “hey, I’m cool. We have a twitter account”. For my audience I don’t think that important, they already know we’re cool (I hope!)

    As a designer first and inbound marketer second, the extra clutter is unnecessary and much more useful if I place calls to action where it would be. I want prospects to engage directly with me on my site, they can read my tweets on twitter.

    • Love how you put that Tommy— “Have, I have a twitter feed, I’m cool.”—Yes, that’s exactly the case.

      I’m glad we’re all starting to get past the cool though and moving onto the ‘it makes conversions’ stage.

      Make sure to let me know when the new site is out my man. Keep rockin bud!


  14. I have it on my blog…the latest tweet. It fill up space, it looks kinda nice, but I hate it.

    I want to move social icons into the tweet area and get rid of tweet completly but I need to do little bit of CSS magic….great points made my friend, and a much needed kick in the ass. Thank you :-)

    • Obliged Dino ;-)

      You know, I wonder how much of what we do when it comes to the web is based on ‘filler’. I really think there might come a day when we all look back and say, ‘Geez, what the heck were we thinking with that??’

      Good to see you bud, hope your December is going well.


    • Drafting off what Dino said, that’s the main reason I have it on mine. It takes up space.

      That being said, I completely agree with your points Marcus. I hate having it there, as it is a reminder of what I still need to do on the site. As I create the base of content to support additional sidebar material, I will shrink (and eventually remove) the Twitter, G+ and Facebook widgets.

      It is absolutely filler, but until I have something more substantive to put up, imho, it is better than an empty looking page. :)

      Good stuff Marcus!

      • I’ve always been anti white space too Adam, but I wonder if it’s really as bad as folks like you and I think…split testing is in order!

        Have a great holiday week my friend!


  15. Hi Marcus. I can’t fault you for wanting that pulled. I intentionally didn’t include mine. The character limitation makes it problematic. I don’t want to distract people and make them wonder what is going on there.
    Read the content and then follow me on Twitter. Makes much more sense to me.

    • Yep, good point Jack, limitations can be frustrating, and distractions can kill the main goals of a website.

      Thanks for stopping by bud, hope your December is a wonderful one.


  16. Thank you, Marcus, for a unique and humorous take on the Twitter-craze! I found this article very refreshing, and I had no idea that 90 percent of Twitter accounts aren’t even active! It is important to note, however, that Twitter definitely *can* be a powerful marketing tool.. But only if it is appropriate for the audience of your industry, and only if effort is put into keeping things fresh and engaging. Thanks again!

  17. If you typed all the conversations I had verbally in a given day- put the text in a bag – shake the bag – you would have my tweets. Jumbled text to those not in the “party” trying to get in lol!

    I agree with you for perhaps slightly different reasons. These jumbled conversations and shares with many people would be absolute nonsense to someone on the outside taking a snapshot of what I am sharing. In any given week, I join Twitter chats, tweet conferences, share my curated material, my blog posts and converse. You would have to follow me regularly to make sense of it. (BTW I believe it is quality material but as I said, you need to follow me to get the value.)
    If we are putting a twitter feed to attract traffic on the site, the objective is certainly not your audience. I personally prefer to share my curated online material/references- far more relevant content for my audience and is aligned to my objectives linked to Thought Leadership.

    And yes, if you are not an active Twitter user- not a good thing

  18. Urgh no completely agree with you there, I hate it when people have their twitter feeds on their homepage, especially when they use their twitters to talk to friends, it makes things look so unprofessional!

  19. Hey Marcus,

    I totally agree with you, I find it extremely distracting personally. There are a few sites I visit actually and the crap they have in their sidebar leaves me questioning what exactly they are trying to accomplish. I find my eyes wandering a lot because there is way too much stuff floating around in their sidebar but I guess if their content was really riveting, it wouldn’t bother me at all.

    I think if you are a Twitter expert and that’s what you write about along with your products then maybe it would be okay. The one big lesson I have learned with social media is that although you want to build up your following and create huge lists of interested prospects, the way a lot of people go wrong is that if those sites were to disappear tomorrow, you’re going to kick yourself in the ass for not having brought them over to your blog and gotten them off those sites. Isn’t that why we are all here?

    Thanks for saying this Marcus. I wish you and your family a Very Merry Christmas and a wonderful and safe holiday.

    Best wishes!


    • LOVE it Adrienne! Ultimately, we want to get them off of the platform and onto our blog subscription (or newsletter) list. If we’re not doing that, we may find a day when we’re awfully disappointed.

      Thanks for being awesome, as always Adrienne, and hope your 2012 is magical!!!


  20. Good one Marcus. Darren Rowse ran a post recently about ‘What do you want your readers to do when they land on your blog?’ My feeling on that was, I don’t want them to be twitching because there are pop-ups and flashing/scrolling info that has nothing to do with the post they came to read.

    If I go to a blog for the first time and get a pop-up, I’m outta there. We get enough of that with ads on just about everything we view online, I don’t want to have those distractions on my blog. This makes ‘monetizing’ (I hate that word) more difficult, but not impossible.

    I’m taking as long as I need with my re-design to make sure it is a ‘soft place to fall’, so to speak. I want people to feel comfortable and take the time to look around but not feel like their senses are under attack.

    As for twitter… I am astounded at the people who follow me. I still don’t really ‘get it’ but I’m trying. I do have a link to twitter and my fb page and I don’t believe it’s a distraction, but maybe it is.

    Think there’ll ever be a blog bible with all the right answers? nah!

    • Hey Barbara, thanks so much for adding your thoughts here. :)

      The balance between ‘pushy’ and ‘cozy’ is a very, very tough one. Unfortunately, the issues can at times go both ways. I see bloggers that never push their list building, and they get frustrated by the lack of subscribers,, customers, etc. And then there are others that seem over the top. But again, I go back to one understanding their goals, and if they do, then they can take the path that works the best to meet those needs.

      Either way, I hope your blogs rocks it in 2012 Barbara!!! And thanks for all this year. :)


  21. Man, I JUST took that Twitter feed out of my sidebar less than two weeks ago lol.

    Mostly because of what Kristi said -every time I would go to my site it would be the last thing to load and it really got on my nerves.

    Also the fact was that as I looked at the feed in my sidebar, for some reason my scintillating, awesome tweets looked kind of stupid. Oh, well.

    Then I got the big idea to get one of those heat map/eye-tracking deals for my home page. Man that Twitter feed box was ICE COLD. Facebook Like box was much better – people do respond to faces.

    Anyway your message here is critical…you’ve got to determine what you want people to do and remove distraction. Now I’m going to pare some more off that dag-blasted sidebar, it’s still way too long :)

    • Hahaha John, love what a heat map will tell us. Often times, the results are shocking….a serious wake up call.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts my man, and have a wonderful Christmas….


  22. Hey Marcus, great points, especially about sidebar real estate! And for those people who don’t keep their tweets fresh, old, worn out one’s are a huge turnoff. Just as bad as having a simple link to a desolate twitter account : (

    Myself, at this point in time, I have my Twitter feed in my footer, and it seems to be just fine down there. But in the past, since I use themes that allow me to customize sidebars, I often just had it on my about page.

    • Hey Bob! So great of you to stop by and your points are all well made. I think you’re the first one here that’s talked about twitter in the footer, and I’d be curious to know how it stacks up there versus a sidebar…but I’d imagine it doesn’t hurt conversions the same way one would in the sidebar.

      Hope you and Judy have a wonderful holiday season Bob.


      • Yeah, it hasn’t hurt at all. In fact no rocket science as to why it ended up there. I had something I wanted to put in the available foot widget areas of my theme, but it just wasn’t balanced out right, so I added the tweets to fill the space. Talk about strategy huh : )

        Have a great holiday season as well!

  23. There is an SEO benefit of having a Twitter feed on there. A spider sees that as additional content on the site. It only works if you are posting good, relevant content. You are also forgetting that you have to speak to the readers who have not made a decision and want to research you or the topic first. Twitter can help set you up as an authority.

    • I agree that Twitter can be searched Elisa, but so can’t any other content? And does Twitter make one an authority, or does the content itself? Sure it’s a platform that can help, but I think most folks that follow someone on Twitter follow their tweets on the actual platform, and don’t go to their blog to follow the tweets. That’s why I really don’t think it has much value as a sidebar item. But just my opinion, thanks for stopping by Elisa.


  24. Luckily I’m not one of those who has Twitter feed in the sidebar, but surely I’m one of those with a pretty crowded one. And taking this advice I’going to clean it up soon.

    Anyway it might be that Twitter is useful to provide a fast answer to customer, in 140 characters?, but imho it has little use for bloggers since there is already the newsletter and everyone following a Twitter account if really interested will also subscribe to the newsletter, at least that’s what I do. Probably I’m not good at using Twitter and don’t understand all its great features so it’s my fault but whenever I log into my account it’s overwhelmed by tweets so that it’s pretty hard to find something interesting. It might also be that I’m following the wrong people. :)

    The same thing goes for Facebook. I don’t wanna be rude or offensive but I think that the greatest part of all the Twitter or Facebook how-to-use-them-to-make-money-and-increase-traffic-and-become-a-millionaire is just useful for those who sell the how to guide about it. Using a typical Self Improvement example to make money with the Law of Attraction you just have to write an ebook about How to Make Money with the Law of Attraction and sell it to everyone.

    I’m not sure Twitter and Facebook are that useful and I also have doubts about their real effectiveness on sharing stuff and making it viral, or better if this gives real advantages or sales. It’s too difficult to find good stuff there. Also they are an enormous waste of time which can be better used writing and interacting with other bloggers.

    But again I might be wrong and just a newbie. :) Which I am anyway.

    Merry Christmas!

    • I appreciate all your opinions on Twitter and Facebook Andrea. I can tell you that the two platforms certainly have the ability to generate traffic. Behind Google, they are always my best referrals for traffic. But like you said, they can be a distraction, so people have to be careful so as to not waste a bunch of time with them. I’d suggest you stay open to their possibilities, and tackle one at a time….if any at all.

      As always, thanks for your thoughts Andrea and hope you have wonderful holiday!!


      • Well, I guess hanging around here I’ll learn a thing or two about them. :)

        Happy holidays Marcus, and thanks again for everything.

  25. Raj

    I am not much in to twitter – I thought it was taking a long time to do proper networking there, so it did not impress me much. But I know people who like Twitter very much. There was even a Tweetup meet in our city recently. And about the sidebar thing, obviously I don’t have it and I don’t suggest it as well. The biggest problem is inactivity and the impression it gives first time readers…

    • I do think Twitter is certainly growing Raj, and over the last year I’ve been averaging at least 1000 visitors a month to my blog from the medium, but there is no question it’s not for everybody, and we mustn’t assume it is. Great stuff man and thanks so much for stopping by!


  26. Thought provoking indeed.

    There are primarily two reasons I chose not to allow twitter streams

    1. I don’t update regularly which means stale content.
    2. The twitter stream slows down my site. Sometimes when twitter goes down, the script causes the browser to crash.

    Maybe it has changed after the last time I tried. Unless your entire blog is focused on twitter I really don’t see the point as to why I should include a stream when I can just include a link to my profile.

    • Excellent points Adarsh, well said my friend!

      Continued success to you in 2012 bud!


  27. I agree with you, Marcus, and if there were any way I could think of to remove it from my WordPress blog sidebar ( I would. It looks as though in order to have that “Follow me on Twitter” button I need to have at least one tweet visible in the sidebar. But since I tweet sporadically at best, it makes me look like I’m asleep at the wheel.

    Anyway, thanks for your honesty. Since subscribing to your blog I’ve started blogging in my own voice as well. No more chilly automaton, corpspeak-spewing blogs!

    • Laura, I see that you’re using Have you considered switching to a self-hosted site? You would have a lot more options if you did, and I think you’d find it worth the small cost of doing so. I’d be happy to get on the phone with you and help you through this if you’d like (no charge). I won’t have time until after the first of the year, but if you’d like to talk, send me a note via the contact form on my website.

      • (Note*** This is why Rebecca is awesome ;-) )

    • That’s so very kind of you to say Laura, it really is. I’m glad this blog has helped you a bit in 20112 and it is my hope to take it to another level entirely in 2012…with lots more value for those great readers and supporters like you.

      Thanks so much for all and have a wonderful holiday Laura!


  28. Hi Marcus
    Keith Davis here – commenting from my new site.

    In defence of twitter feed, I discovered that Google picks up the words in the feed almost instantly.

    I found that my new site was on the SERPS first page and it was the twitter feed that Google was reading.
    It had the feed just a few minutes after I had tweeted.

    • Yes, it can pick it up quickly, but as many folks have stated, there are clear drawbacks as well. Also, If we’re producing regular content on our site, and google is getting pinged often, that should take care of itself, at least I would imagine so.

      Again though, I go back to the goals of one’s site, that’s what should dictate this decision.

      BTW, what made you start a new site Keith? I love the old one, but would be very interested in knowing the direction you’re planning on taking this one.

      Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday my friend!


      • Hi Marcus
        Don’t know where you get the energy to answer all these comments… just glad that you do.

        I’ve gone over to the dark side my friend – and it’s not pretty.
        Pay me a visit.

  29. Hey Marcus, let’s try this again (my iPhone deleted my last commenting effort – that’s what I get by social networking at Pep Boys while waiting on my car). :)

    First, I agree with your points – all of them – except the main one. I think Twitter feeds have great potential to further your message IF it’s utilized correctly. If you visit my page, you won’t find mine and that’s because I couldn’t be congruent with the message of my blog by incorporating my twitter feed.

    When I started blogging, mine was simply my own personal musings on everything. Didn’t get much of a following, but my twitter feed didn’t matter because it was just me. When I transitioned and created ElevationLife last year, EL became more of a brand for personal development. My twitter feed wasn’t, it was still @thompsonland. I’ve thought of creating a feed for EL, but like you said, it would need to be CONTINUALLY updated – not just retweets of other people.

    If people used Twitter on their BLOGS with the intent of making those tweets actual MICRO-Blogs of their content, it might be different. Most of us don’t have that kind of time when we’re writing larger posts. This could be an opportunity to partially outsource Twitter to an intern or volunteer who could help to maintain the micro-blogging format.

    Just an idea. If it were used that way, it could utilize some of that real-estate. …BELOW the email subscription signup form, of course. ;) What do you think?

    • I see what you’re saying Bryan, I do, but I would still argue that it could have its normal Fail Whale and load time drawbacks. But how many folks could actually manage a twitter micro blog set up like that effectively? I think it sounds really tough, although innovative, and I could better see it for a larger company with many hands on deck. But still, if if hurts conversions, I think we need to look hard at our options.

      Great thoughts my friend and thanks so much for all your support this year buddy. Merry Christmas too!


  30. Hi Marcus,

    What you’re saying makes a lot of sense. I’ve never had a twitter feed in my sidebar, but I have to admit that I have thought about it. It’s interesting how few people actually knows about Twitter and are using it, especially here in Norway. I don’t more than 10 active users from Norway, well, except for the students I have recruited. They are all using twitter on their iPads and mobile phones.

    To me, twitter is mostly a tool to build relations and to keep in touch with people. I have never had any success broadcasting messages to my followers.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family Marcus, and thanks a lot for all your support and all the awesome information you’ve published.

    • It’s funny how certain mediums take so much longer to catch fire in different countries. Your example of twitter in Norway is a perfect one Jens, and brings up the point that most blogs are going out to the world, thus if parts of the world are using a certain platform/medium, it won’t make much sense to them.

      Anyway, it has been great staying in touch with you this year Jens. I’ve loved reading all your stories, and watching you grow. Really, it has been a pleasure.

      Have a wonderful Christmas my friend,


  31. Marcus,

    Great points and post. One additional point I’d like to add (and I apologize if it’s already been mentioned) is that Twitter can often be slow to respond and when it’s “Fail Whale” time, waiting for Twitter to load in your sidebar can really slow down your site and chase away prospective customers.

    This is the primary reason I removed my Twitter stream from both my and my client’s sites.

    Happy holidays!


    • Fail Whale is a very good point Matt that most don’t understand. It clearly slows down a site and it also makes for a poor perception.

      Thanks for the info bud and wishing you a wonderful holiday as well!


  32. Kurt Pellegrino

    90%+ of the twitter accounts ever created aren’t even actively being used.

    Really? I’d like to see a source for this.

  33. Hi Marcus,

    Some forget that 1 clear cut call to action placed on the right, upperhand portion of your side bar, will move people into the call much of the time.

    So putting a non-clear, non-prospering, cluttered twitter stream feed will generally result in…no action taken. Not a good thing for a blogger who likely wants to grow their online business.

    I cut back on widgets 2 days ago. I want people to visit my cash gifting website. So I got rid of my FB Fan Page widget and opt-in form. I posted a picture of a neat gift. I explain a benefit: improve your finances. I entice with a robust freebie package: 1 marketing boot camp, 1 cash gifting webinar, 6 inspirational ebooks, plus a free tour. And wouldn’t you know it, my clicks and opt-ins increased immediately. The only other option my readers have on the sidebar is connecting with me on social networks, which is important in the trust-building department.

    Cut your calls to like 1 or 2. Really. If you want to prosper with greater ease, just do it. It pays.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Marcus.


    • Ryan, wow man, this was really thorough, and dang good. Love how you’ve simplified, studied the results, and have a clear opinion based on said results.

      Also, I like how you add more ‘enticement’ for the list-building side, that makes a ton of sense and I think it’s one thing I could do a good bit better as well.

      Really appreciate you stopping by man and hope your Christmas is a great one!


  34. Good points.

    On my Social Media Freelance page I do have my twitter feed in the sidebar and am very active with tweeting. However on the rest of my site I do not have a twitter feed. I agree I always think about what I what the viewer to focus on and try not to have distractions from that.

    Personally I like seeing a twitter feed so that I can quickly evaluate whether I want to follow them. I take note of how often they tweet, their engagement with others and what they tweet about.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Hi Sandra, and thanks so much for chiming in. Sounds like you’re certainly using twitter for the right reasons, and I hope you find the success you’re looking for :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


  35. Very well said my friend . Why there should be a causal conversation of twitter on the company website People are dumb to do that.
    Anyways thanks .
    Merrry Christmas Mate !

  36. Hi Marcus,

    Wow… what a post and what a interesting discussion.
    I agree with Keith. “linking out is an important part of any good SEO strategy” but not all ways are sucessful. I read many sites about FB and Twitter and all the other Platforms. And i think… yeah its good promotion for business. But you have been right. Nobody reads old Twitter Feeds and its not good for your business when your Tweets are old.

    User ( potential customers) wants news, unique content and answers for the problems.
    It gives many ways for promotion your business. It’s important to find the right way for your own business.

    Thanks for this interesting post and discussion.
    wish you all merry Christmas and much success in 2012. with greetings from germany Sandy

    • Hi Sandy
      I discovered the Google / twitter feed connection by accident but it does seem too good to ignore.

      Sure, none of us should be writing for the engines, but with a little tweaking, you can get great results.

      The other thing to note is that Google’s latest update was all about giving priority to fresh material.
      What is fresher than a tweet?

      That Marcus really knows how to get a discussion going. LOL

      • I think it’s actually a good thing to write for the engines. On a broader scale, the goal is to write in such a way that the engines are pleased, and the humans are fascinated. And I do think this is possible most of the time.

        Thanks again Keith ;-)


        • Cheers Marcus
          Hope you and the clan had a great Christmas and are looking forward to a fabulous 2012.

  37. Wow, well I think that this post is honest, but a bit of an overstretch. I think it depends on the type of site. For example, if the site is personal in nature, then a Twitter feed on the sidebar is key to show that the person is active and it is easy to “plug into” their life. Also many people do in fact use their Tweets to educate…by tweeting about interesting articles and sending the links along to their Twitter followers. There are a lot of variables here…I think that you can only make the determination by looking at your goals for your website, and how you use Twitter.

    • I agree that this article has really nothing to do with a ‘personal’ blog Shona, and I have zero issues with anyone doing that.

      But the majority of bloggers out there have some hope and expectation of making $$$, at least at some point, from their blog. If this is the case, it needs to be treated as a business. And when a blog is built to generate leads and sales, twitter feeds are rarely if ever going to outdo other methods when it comes to making actual conversions.

      I’m so glad you came by and voiced your opinion Shona, please come back again, I’m sure it won’t be the last time I’ll say something you might not agree with ;-) (But hey, that’s what makes this whole blogging thing fun, right? :-) )


  38. Marcus,

    One idea (which you mention above) that has really changed the way I blog and success I have is concept of “People come to your Blog for a solution, not to be sold a product.”

    When I first started blogging for my insurance business I was writing to sell people insurance. And honestly I didn’t sell a whole lot.

    Then I started blogging to Solve Problems… Answers to questions… and people have really responded. No one is coming my insurance blog for Fun, they are coming to get relief from an issue weighing on their mind.

    Great stuff buddy…

    Ryan H.

    • You got it brother. Simply put, “Solutions Sell”.

      It’s cool to watch you make this work for you and your industry Ryan. I’m expecting big things from you in 2012 my man!


  39. Hello Marcus,

    Got to your blog from twitter :-) Michele Welch tweeted your story which landed in my, and so it goes. But, getting to the twitter feed on ones blog. I did have one on my blog (to be honest, this is how much notice I take of my own sidebar, I actually went just now to double check that the twitter feed is a ‘was’ and not still there. Perhaps it’s time for an overhaul!).

    The points you have put up here are very good. I can’t remember why I took mine off, I think it may have been, I’ve a connect button, if anyone wants to check my feeds, they can go to twitter via that.

    Thanks for sharing this information Marcus.
    Have a good New Year

    • Hi Julie! So glad you were able to find your way here and that this article may have helped you a bit.

      Continued success to you and your blog in 2012 Julie!


  40. I used to have a Twitter feed on my blog, but it does not look professional and so I took it off. It is better to have something else there like what you mentioned in your article. It is easy to get caught up in building your followers through your site. The chances of displaying your timelime boosting your Twitter followers is close to none. For me, it has only been one of many failed attempts at boosting my Twitter presense.

    I try not to focus on social media too much, but instead focus on writing, having patience, and letting the seeds of my work grow.

    God bless,
    William Veasley

  41. Solid stuff as usual, Marcus, and while I might not agree 100% on the Twitter feed (although you mentioned it yourself in an earlier reply, if it’s to build Twitter followers then a sidebar feed makes sense), there are far more valuable options to place there.

    I’m messing with dynamic sidebars at the minute, so the sidebar matches the Page/Post you’re on. I’m really intrigued with the idea of having HTML ready to go on a certain type of post. So, say a review of a premium framework, and a revolving portfolio of sites created with it in the sidebar, or a Recommendations sidebar on a Work With Me page (I have this on my own blog).

    So, yes, I think too many folks just go with the standard sidebar and leave it at that, when there’s so much more to do.

    Thanks for giving me the kick to get the Dynamic Sidebar stuff sorted for early 2012. :)

    Cheers, sir!

    • Hey Danny,

      Are you creating a plugin for that or are you just self coding something that works out for your sites?

      I’m just wondering as I got curious from the scenarios you mentioned, thanks in advance!


      • Hi Sergio
        I’m setting up different sidebars on different pages / posts using the “genesis simple sidebars” plugin, but I think it only works on a genesis site.

        Seems like a good way of concentrating information on a particular topic.

        • Wow, look at you Keith, quite the web guru these days, aren’t you. ;-)

          • It’s all bluff Marcus.
            Just like giving a speech… say it with confidence and never blink. LOL

      • Hey there Sergio,

        There are a few ways to do it. It depends on what you’re using and your coding skills:

        1. A premium framework, like Headway or Genesis, allows you the option of dynamic sidebars within the theme itself.

        2. A plugin to give you the option:

        3. Hard coding on specific posts.

        The great thing with either the plugin, or the framework option, is that it opens up a box in the post dashboard, where you drop the HTML code you want in (so, an ebook, video, etc) relevant to that post only.

        Which should, hopefully, offer a more effective call-to-action.


        • Hey Danny,

          You’re DA MAN, man!

          Thank you for your rocking answer my friend, I really appreciate it. ;-)


          • Ha, any time Sergio, and thanks for the kind words – hope these work out for you!

        • I think what you’re talking about here Danny is going to be the wave of the future, and will address many of the dilemmas folks like me have in trying to dictate the proper content on a page, specific to a blog post.

          Awesome stuff man, thanks for bringing this up.


          • Hi mate,

            Thanks, sir. I think integration is going to play a huge role in 2012, and not just on the blogging front. Look at what Google is up to at the minute (the CommentLuv link will share, if you’re so inclined), and look at the acquisitions of social platforms, and Facebook app development.

            Interesting times ahead, mate, and we’re only just seeing the early fruits.

  42. Indeed I agree on most points of view but I still consider its a good choice (one you must upkeep). A proper updated tweetbar is essential for starting good relations with prospects. Most small to medium would definately benefit from increasing twitter activity on the website. A homepage should than be as dynamicly as twitter is.. changing, updated, anything but a static thing. So a blog/catalogue/portofeuille kinda website with a twitter (soicalmediamanager) is good:-)

    Warmest regards,

  43. Tom

    One thing I recently ditched was the twitter feed on the sidebar. I am now tending to agree with the above rationalisation.

    Having said that though, twitter is a powerful tool for my site and business. Stock tips can be tweeted out in an instance. A fair chunk of my site traffic comes from twitter. Sometimes it’s even greater that search engine traffic.

    It’s also a great way of spreading business word of mouth.

    • No question Tom, twitter is a very good tool when used properly. It brings me thousands of visitors a month. Notwithstanding, the majority of businesses that put it in their sidebar are doing it for the wrong reasons…and it actually hurts the site.

      But each case is different, no doubt about that…

      Thanks so much for dropping by Tom!


  44. A couple of those reasons might make sense for me in certain circumstances, but some of these reasons aren’t true. Everyone knows what Twitter is these days, for example.

  45. Excellent blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  46. Hi Tabitha

    I’m a writer myself, so I thought I’d jump in and address your question and then Marcus can throw in his two cents as well.

    I know a lot of great writers who are using free options such as or Blogger, and loving it. However, unless you absolutely can’t afford to, I really recommend going with self-hosted right from the start.

    When you look at it from a long-term perspective, I think you’re far better off doing things the right way, right from the start.

    I’d be happy to talk with you over the phone about this if you’d like. You can send me an email via the contact form on my site and we can connect from there.

  47. Dana Friedman

    Howdy! In showing my designer some options for displaying a Twitter feed on a page, I found this article as the seventh one down on Google. Nice work. Now, I’m not sure I agree with your premise. Here are a few reasons why:

    1) You say no one knows what Twitter is? You wrote that in December 2011. The world’s changed. A lot of people do know what Twitter is. The younger the base for a website, the more likely they’re going to know what it is.

    2) Twitter is user-updatable means of giving fans the latest and greatest. It can provide the site owner two functions in one–updating their Twitter feed, and a “What’s hot” type thing.

    3) There are SO many ways to customize how a Twitter feed is displayed on a page. One could even show only the latest tweet or two, thus making the”prime real estate” option debatable.

    There are more, but those are just the first few I could think of.

    • I see what you’re saying Dana, but when it comes down to it, the goal of a website’s homepage is to immediately get a visitor to the second page. Searchers go to a home page to find what they are looking for–the answer to their problems if you will– and a twitter feed never addresses that need and from a conversion standpoint, only hinders things.

      • Thanks for your reminder, Markus. I am new on social networks but I put the Google+ Posts Streams at the bottom of the sidebar for search engine to find on keywords used on the post and also to give backlinks to its own Google+ Profile.

        With your reminders, I think Google+ Streams are enough among social networks, to put on the sidebar because It’s SEO 2013 — Google includes its own properties in Google Search.

  48. Always suspected that Less is more, thanks for making the point so clearly

  49. Daniel

    I am doing research on Second Screen Apps and came across your article. Thankfully it doesn’t apply to what I am doing as I will be integrating Twitter within the app, but everything you have said is quite insightful makes complete sense for websites. No.3 rings true to many feeds I am looking at which makes me think – can I find the positive in having Twitter at all…

  50. Twitter is one of my largest sources of referral traffic. I get way more action from a quick tweet from my phone than I do from a planned out Facebook posting

  51. i do not agree , when did you publish this blog there is no date on it , do you want to hide your dates , tweets and work , why so? real time twitter feed is a good plugin .

    • Good? You haven’t addressed why. Tell me how it improves conversions and I’ll gladly listen.

  52. For the most part I agree with your points, a bit arrogant but I like your writing style. :)

    That said and I’ll have to admit we have a twitter feed on our sidebar, however it’s on the blog only and is a double bar! It also hides away on tablet and mobile devices because it’s a distraction.

    I’m still surprised by how many clients want twitter feeds on their homepages taking up valuable space.

  53. I hear you but still adding a Twitter stream to homepage. We need some content; our Tweets are short sweet, informative and matches our page goal- get people excited about what we do, spread our name and mission and later become a member when our music clubs begin to hit. We are just trying right now to market our name…young organization and we just don’t have time for a blog as suggested by some web folks and right now, I don’t think we need it.

  54. Five-star editorial here.

    #5 is a great point, vis a vis bounce rates, distraction, competitors, et cetera, as are all seven, but as a writer, creative, marketer, and coder, I think the Twitter feed belongs on a social-specific page or a microsite, or elsewhere as long as it’s used impressively or consistently, to communicate advantages, link to owned media, i.e. blog posts, landing pages, product pages.

    I’m pretty green, I’m 26 (almost), I’m a fresh MBA, and I need Twitter.
    My first three gigs hinged on SMM for it as well as FB, Pinterest, 4sq, etc…

    I need people to see that I can leverage Twitter differently at least, if not more strategically, more responsively, more influentially, and more professionally.

    I like the Feed API (though it loads slowly on

    P.S. Wow, “90%+ of the twitter accounts ever created aren’t even actively being used.”

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