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Why give a tweet?

2010 March 29
by Helen Keevy

This is not a ‘how to twitter’ post, because I’m still learning and there are so many out there already. It’s just a few personal observations from a former Twitter sceptic. You might find them useful if you’ve been told ‘you should be on Twitter’, but aren’t quite sure why.

I’ve never been one for using my status update on Facebook much, so the thought of using Twitter never appealed to me. It seemed a little pointless. But about two months ago I decided that it was time to give it a fair shot: to try it out, consistently, for at least 100 tweets.

Almost a century and a half of tweets later (a day in the lives of some twitterers,  almost two months in my world), I’ve definitely learnt a great deal.

  1. Local twitterings for local connections. For me, the best thing about Twitter is how it helps you make local connections. Yes, it’s great to be able to follow people on the other side of the world. But for someone working from home the highlight has been the local connections you can make. It’s networking without the scary face-to-face bit.
  2. Just start. Don’t get hung-up on the etiquette or the ‘best approach’. Just make a start and you’ll pick it up as you go along. You’ll soon figure out if what you’re saying is getting you followers or getting you unfollowed. I started with a simple guide to Twitter and that was enough.
  3. You get more from giving. Taking time to chat with other people is satisfying and enriching. And it needn’t take up all of your time either. It can be random, spontaneous and – in less than 140 characters – speedy, even when typing with only one finger.
  4. Tweets are a great way of ‘sorting’ information. You quickly realise who the people are that post the type of resources you’re interested in reading. It’s almost like having access to a giant human sieve for the Internet. You can follow people with similar interests, in similar professions, or with no justification other than that you like what they say.
  5. It doesn’t have to be a numbers game. You’re not going to get thousands of followers overnight, unless you start following thousands of people yourself.  But a few dozen followers is all you need to have good conversations and be pointed towards some fabulous resources.

And the cons?

“… a persistent underlying disturbance to conscious thought …classified largely by its effects on speech and writing. Affected persons may show pressure of speech (speaking incessantly and quickly), derailment or flight of ideas (switching topic mid-sentence inappropriately)…”

On first reading this I thought it was quite an accurate description of Twitter. But it is the wikipedia entry for ‘thought disorder’ – a common symptom of being psychotic. (No, I’m not going to elaborate on why I was on the page to start with!)

At first glance Twitter seemed to be another potential and serious hazard to the daily endeavour of ordering my thoughts.  And for the first few days it was.

Twitter definitely has the potential to disorder and distract. But with a little bit of discipline and using options to list, group and filter you can control your Twitter quite well and extract from it what you want. There are a multitude of tools that help you do this. Looking into them all could in itself eat up a few days, so I started with just one – Tweetdeck.


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One Response
  1. June 21, 2010

    Hi Helen

    Interesting- do you know how to check who is following you in a quick way rather than going through one by one?

    Cheers Grant

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