Surviving or Thriving in the Twitterstream?

Twitter Stream

Twitter Stream

Michele Martin posted a great question on The Bamboo Project Blog yesterday about Twitter and how she is just not connecting with it as a useful tool. I thought it was a GREAT conversation starter and you need to stop by just to check out the humorous videos that she posted about Twitter (I agree with her that the John Stewart one is a fave!)

With all the chatter about Twitter on CNN, Today and a number of other high profile outlets, the question is a good one. The general gist of the comments seems to be that some people find Twitter useful and others find it distracting. Nothing new or unusual there. Any number of tools come along that some find useful and others do not.

I like the push to think about it more deeply though. What really do I get out of Twitter? Is it useful to my work? Are the nuggets of gold worth sifting through the “flotsam and jetsam” of the Twitter stream?

I believe Twitter has added value to my work. I’ve been able to discover new colleagues and to network more closely with existing contacts. I’ve reviewed a lot of the links that get thrown around Twitter and many of them have been quite useful. I don’t think that I would have found them with my RSS feeds.

It has taken me some time to learn how Twitter works best for me. And I’m still learning and tweaking it. My big breakthrough came when I started using hashtags to follow more specific conversations. As I mentioned on Michelle’s blog, I don’t mind the cocktail conversations all around me, but I’m off in a corner with a smaller group talking about ideas and issues that we are all passionate about. I like that.

Another analogy that I have used is my graduate school experience. To me, blogs are akin to the classroom. The focus was deep thinking, critical analysis, new ideas and a focused effort on pulling apart ideas, theories and great works to formulate my own thinking.

Twitter, on the other hand, is like the grad student bull pen where we all had our “offices” (cubicles really), or the lounge or Larry’s Bar on Friday afternoons. These conversations were more casual. They jumped around a lot and they included everyday trivial snippets about lunch, tests, weekend getaways. But they were an indispensable part of my education in grad school. I learned about new books, projects, fresh ideas, additional contacts, etc. and Twitter seems to be doing the same for me now.

I am sure that everyone is different, but this analogy works for me. I am interested in hearing from all of you? What analogy works for you? What was the turning point for you with Twitter – good or bad? What tips do you have to help someone filter out the cocktail conversation?

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One response to “Surviving or Thriving in the Twitterstream?

  1. I am a huge fan of Twitter! You may have already figured that out, since that is where you and I connected. I learn so much more everyday from Twitter then I ever did following RSS feeds. One of the things I love about Twitter is that you can jump into the stream of conversation anytime, and still pick up some valuable nuggets of information.
    As much of a fan as I am now, I too started out skeptical. I signed up back when Twitter first came out and my first Tweets consisted of what I had for lunch, what type of project I was working on, etc.
    One day I decided to start looking for people who were posting items that were useful to me. Little by little my network grew. I made a vow to only post things that were relevant to me and my followers (no more useless posts). I tried a few tools to manage Twitter and settled on TweetDeck which allows me to search for keywords that really interest me.
    Now, I check in with Twitter two or three times a day, look through my searches, retweet some good stuff, post some items I’ve come across that day which may be of use to others and then log off. I have made some great connections and found excellent resources I’m not sure I would have found elsewhere.
    So, based on my experience – Twitter is an amazing tool!
    As much of a fan as I am now, I too started out skeptical. I signed up back when Twitter first came out and my first year of Tweets consisted of what I had for lunch, what type of project I was working on, etc.
    One day I decided to start looking for people who were posting items that were useful to me. Little by little my network grew. I made a vow to only post things that were relevant to me and my followers (no more useless posts). I tried a few tools to manage Twitter and settled on TweetDeck which allows me to search for keywords that really interest me.
    Now, I check in with Twitter two or three times a day, look through my searches, retweet some good stuff, post some items I’ve come across that day which may be of use to others and then log off. I have made some great connections and found excellent resources I’m not sure I would have found elsewhere.
    So, based on my experience – Twitter is an amazing tool!

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