How And Why I Use Twitter

I often get stopped by people I know who say things like:

  • I see a lot of your tweets in LinkedIn.
  • You use Twitter. Why? I don’t really want to tell people that I’m going to eat dinner or some other miscellaneous fact.
  • Can you really get anything out of 140 characters?

So…let me share my perspective on how my use of Twitter has evolved and what I get out of it.

It took me a few tries before I found out how to use Twitter effectively.

  1. First, I tried just using it to share thoughts or opinions across a variety of topics. I didn’t find that valuable and wondered why anyone would follow me to know that.
  2. Second, I tried using it to pose questions about healthcare topics that I was interested in. That worked ok because it synched with LinkedIn, but I didn’t have enough Twitter followers for that to make a difference.
  3. Finally, I decided to just use it as a “notebook” to capture facts while I read or to bookmark articles that I found interesting. (Of course, some of this became possible as every web article now offers a “share” feature.) This works especially great when you’re at a conference and is even a good way to follow a conference that you miss.

The next thing that I had to figure out was just understanding the technology.

  1. Reading things in Twitter is ok, but a lot of people post links. Often times, it’s not that effective to be constantly going out to the links to see what they say. In comes Flipboard to save the day. (see older post here)
  2. To make things more searchable, you have to use hashtags where you put a “#” in front of a key expression or search term.
  3. Most people don’t get a lot of followers although you hear about all the celebrities with millions of followers. (see HubSpot presentation below for general Twitter statistics)

I figure it must be working for me now. I have over 1,000 followers which according to this site is true for less than 1% of people on Twitter. But, I don’t think followers is the best indication (especially since almost ½ of followers might be bots and you can buy followers). I know that it’s working for now since I can post a question and sometimes get an answer. I can connect with companies and meet people. I’ve even heard from people at conferences that they follow my feed. Probably my best experience was when I read an article early in the morning, posted a quick summary, and then had a national reporter call me to ask me for the source so he could write an AP article…all before 8 am.

Just to check, I went out to the StatusPeople application which tells you how many of your followers are bots versus simply inactive. I was pleased with the results.

3 Responses to “How And Why I Use Twitter”

  1. Another thing I’ve done is to use Tweetdoc to capture an entire conversation about something with a common Twitter hashtag and turn it into a PDF. Great for a conference (for example).

  2. The other thing that I do is to use the “favorite” feature in Twitter to bookmark things for me to come back and read later. A lot of times if I’m using Twitter on my phone, I may not click on a link. The text may sound interesting, but if I’m going to RT it, I prefer to have checked out the linked article first.

  3. I think it takes everyone a little bit to figure out how to make Twitter really work for them. I remember I got on, tried a few things and then left it for months. Then I came back with a few ideas to try and found a way that made it work for me.
    When others ask me about how they can get on to Twitter, or that they just don’t get it, I now tell them that they have to experiment around with it a bit until they find a way that makes it work for them. Everyone is going to have different needs, wants, and uses for it. It just takes a bit of time to find your exact groove.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos & Marketwire

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