Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5 Essential Twitter Truths

Having been part of the Twitter community now for nearly 6 months and posting over 1300 tweets, I guess the nOOb status is off. Now, it's my turn to blog about what I have learned in this short time immersed in one of the many Web 2.0 tools. I try to keep in mind these five simple things as I use Twitter and as I invite others to join.

@sjciske's 5 Essential Twitter Truths

1. Not every tweet I produce is profound and not every @reply I send will be acknowledged. I consider myself a fairly decent writer (journalism undergrad, professional newspaper experience) and somewhat funny (intentional or not). Yet, it took me a while to have people warm up to my way of communicating in 140 characters of less. Some people have the gift of gab - it doesn't work in the Twitterverse. I follow only 120 or so people - other follow many more than me - and it can be overwhelming figuring out what to respond to and at times, what to post. Relax - it takes time to get to know people online, which brings me to the next essential truth.

2. If you don't fill out your profile with name, URL, place, etc.....chances are people will not follow you. Spit (spam on Twitter) happens and I personally choose not to follow people who do not fill out their profiles. Providing a URL allows a person to see what your about, what you do and your likes or dislikes. If someone following 3,000 others wants to follow me, fine, but for the most part, unless the profile is filled in - nada on my part. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my 120 on a regular basis. You can control who you follow and who follows you. You can keep it simple or go huge, but for many, the profile part is essential. In fact, I have personally gone to every one of the URLs listed for people I follow - sort of a Twitter background check.

3. Finding a friend or colleague on Twitter and following people they follow is a great way to wedge yourself into the community or personal learning network (PLN) you desire. Whether its EdTech, quilting, LOLkittens, roller coasters, food or politics -- look at friends and colleagues for advice or for introductions. It's never too late to join and become active in the discussion!

4. Twitter is a great way to learn about (_you fill in the blank_). Most of my followers/following are involved in some type of educational technology, yet I have learned so much about other topics: traveling, parenting, cooking, cultures, favorite teams and others. Some people like to be in the center of learning and others hang on the edge. It is easy to tell in the Twitterverse who is who. Everyone can contribute if they desires. People announce blog posts, conferences, tweetups and links to uStreaming content. It is there for your consumption. Or not.

5. If you blog, Twitter will energize you to blog more and blog better. I used to think that blog posts needed to be long, thoughtful and on heavy or weighty topics. Boy, was I off base. I now now that blogging is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. In reading other blogs, I feel better able to write my own, contribute to the community on a more regular basis. And this post, I believe, will be the start of that!


IMC Guy said...

You make some great points. I still consider myself relatively new to Twitter, but have enjoyed it. I've also been lucky hear about some of your tips from you and others that have been very beneficial.

Darren Draper said...

Good post, Stuart. I think that you've discovered truth in every point.

In particular, I think that your truth #1 can be a difficult lesson for many people to learn. We live in an instant gratification society. We give (or at least we think we do), why don't we always get? In answer to this plaguing scenario, I think your advice to relax is very timely and also very sound.

Mark Carls said...

Great blog about Twitter. I use Twitter as a 'jumping off' point to learn about new sites out there for education. Plus, I find out what other people (like you) use and their thoughts on....basically ANYTHING. I do find it very important to give your information, I don't follow people that I can't verify who they are.
Your 5th point is the one that strikes me the most because as I've tried to increase my web presence I've started blogging more and more on Edublogs and look forward to sharing more about my thoughts. I do love Twitter, just wish there were more time in the day as I try to balance between work and family.
Twitter: mcarls

Dan Gross said...

Well said Stu. Like most social media, these tools are still finding themselves. The biggest mistake seems to be folks who try to recreate the public timeline in their accounts, in order to get hundreds or thousands of followers. But I think as more educated users become part of the community, it becomes a better experience.