For those of you that have been paying attention, you already know that I created a Twitter account at the end of January. I have some friends that have been pestering me to get on-board and check it out for a while. I always demurred, thinking it was micro-blogging and that since I had a blog, I didn’t need to invest the time.
Boy, did I blow that one.
After about a month of experimentation, I’m ready to report my thoughts, experiences, and urge all of you to join the discussion.
What is Twitter?
I can tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t email, IM, or blogging. It is like having a conversation at a party where you can search the other conversations to join them, without leaving your current one. You can converse with others and work together to solve problems. You can share your thoughts/insights/whimsies with the world.
140 characters at a time.
For somebody used to rambling on in a blog post, this was a real adjustment, but once you learned the symbology (“@” user/reply, “#” topic/event, “D” direct message, “RT” re-Tweet), the benefits are outstanding.
What have I used it for so far? What haven’t I used it for?
- RSS Feed: Follow analysts, bloggers, companies, and others and get a stream of links that help you keep on the leading edge of the news and events that shape your life. There is a lot more than the IT world out there. The Mumbai attacks? The twitterati were there first and were the source, rightly or wrongly, of many news reports.
- Micro-blog: I often have thoughts that don’t really scream for a full blog entry. It may just be a cool link with a thought. As I hate multi-topic blog posts, many of those things never saw the light of day. Well, now they have a place to go.
- Industry Tracking: I keep up with what other are doing by seeing their thoughts as they sit through conferences, attend meetings, or go about their work-day. I can track what AIIM is doing or how the Alfresco developer community is building new CMIS tools.
- Instant Messenging: This is semi-direct. I can send a message to someone and later, even if I’m not online, they can reply. If I ask them a question in the open, tagging it with their name and a topic, I might get the answer from someone else.
- Technical Help: Having a problem, tweet it. Somebody out there may have encountered it and have a solution.
I could go on. Those are all just personal benefits. Chuck Hollis experimented the other week and is now hooked. He dived in and spent a full day learning about Twitter and wrote a great post on Understanding Corporate Twitter. He recently tweeted that he was entering Twitter follow bankruptcy. He is realizing that if you have a lot of followers that you can’t get back to them all sometimes.
Another business aspect can be read about at MediaPost where they talk about how some companies are using Twitter for business, and how some have learned how not to use it.
What Do You Do Now?
Get out there. Now! Don’t wait for this post to end. (Well maybe wait…read the rest and write a nice comment telling me how much I am off-base). It is just a few easy steps.
- Register at Twitter.
- Start to follow me (@piewords), or not.
- If you are in the ECM space, look at some of the people I am following. They may have some discussions and thoughts that interest you.
- Find a Twitter tool so you are free from the standard web page. I like TweetDeck, but I started with TwitterFox when I wasn’t following many people. Only use one as there are limits as to how often your account can bug the Twitter servers.
- Watch, learn, chime in a few times. Remember, people are watching and searching.
- Discover how TinyURL is useful. I use the TinyURL Creator add-on for Firefox. TweetDeck has one built in for multiple short-URL sites.
It can seem overwhelming if you start following a lot of people at first. Over time you learn to filter and reduce it to background noise, taking note of only the truly interesting things. You can’t follow every link or you won’t get any regular work done. Then again, I actually get some regular work done with Twitter.