Monday, June 20, 2011

My thoughts on Twitter - now that I've used it for a while

While participating in my first Word Count's Blogathon in May, I had little time to spend learning about the
peripheral tools of blogging.  Things like Twitter, RSS feeds, WordPress, and publicizing my new blog went virtually untouched.  I was too busy writing and figuring out the basics to posting my blog.

Since June 1, I've spent a lot of time trying to understand the ins and outs of Twitter.  Who should I follow?  How can I weed through the enormous amount of tweets?  How do I use this tool to help attract attention to my blog?  How can I best use my phone to utilize this tool?

It's been quite a learning curve, and I still feel like there's much more to learn, but I've come to a few conclusions about Twitter.

Take Away #1 - Twitter Stalking helps you find interesting people to follow 
I learned how to "stalk" on Facebook when my daughter was in high school.  It's basically when you go to someone's unprotected Facebook page and read their posts.  Then you click on a friend of theirs and assuming they haven't chosen the security setting of "Friends Only" (which most kids don't) wahla, you can view their posts too.  My daughter's generation calls that "stalking" and being a "creeper" but hey, as a mom you have to look out for your child and that means understanding the behavior of their circle of friends which equates to "creeping."  I won't apologize for that!

Take that same concept into Twitter and you have, I'd think, "Twitter Stalking."  Although Twitter doesn't have security settings so I prefer to call it "Twitter Surfing."  To Twitter Surf you click on an interesting person's Twitter name and click on who they follow.  After all, interesting people must follow interesting people, right?  From there you look for anyone who sounds interesting or is tweeting in an area that applies to your blog, and you follow them. Then you can stalk, I mean surf, further by clicking on followers of followers and suddenly you're reaching out into circles of twitter-ers you never knew existed.  And honestly, Twitter actually encourages Twitter Surfing because it suggests different people for you to follow on the sidebar located on the right hand side of your Twitter home page. 

I've found a lot of really interesting people to follow by Twitter-Surfing.  I wish that I could remember who follows who so that I could thank them, but I honestly lost track in all the clicking. I'm pretty sure I started on Michelle Rafter of WordCount's Twitter page - @MichelleRafter - so hats off to her for pointing me in the right direction to begin with!

Nonetheless there's some really interesting folks out there like @BrianSolis who seems to be the center of the social networking universe.  Then there's @SteveButtry who appears to know the newspaper industry inside and out and who has a vision of where the newspaper world SHOULD be going.  I also enjoy reading tweets by @MarketingProfs, @SecondAct, @EncoreCareers and @YourLifeCalling

Take Away #2 - Twitter produces some incredible gems of information and also lots of junk
I've found that there are some wonderful gems of information that people tweet and then there is the junk.  Sifting through the mass of junk is what I find frustrating.  I ran across a couple of people who had some interesting tweets, but then when I went to their Twitter home page (if that's what it's called?) to read further and perhaps follow them, they had a multitude of irrelevant tweets.  I don't mean to sound rude or insensitive, but I really don't care what time you woke up, that it was earlier than yesterday, that you had a bagel for breakfast, were running late that day (hmm, could it be from all the tweeting?), that there was traffic on the bridge in San Francisco (I live in the Midwest), and that you stopped by Starbucks for a Mocha Coconut Frappucino.

What's worse is when all of these tweets and 20 more irrelevant ones come within a 30 minute span. Can't the extraneous tweets be kept to a minimum please?  It just junks up the tweets and makes it even harder to find the real gems.  There must be a solution for this chaos other than not following that person, but I haven't found it yet.  I'll keep looking though. 

And finally, I have learned that....

Take Away #3 - I can waste an enormous amount of time on Twitter
Gosh, do I even need to elaborate on this one?  I'm thinking that I should limit myself to 60 minutes per day of stalking around Twitter-kingdom and clicking on links from tweets.  Ok, maybe 30 minutes is even a better goal.  Otherwise, I feel like I have a wealth of information in my head, but what am I really doing with it?


  1. Julie,
    Yes, the wasted time adds up. I don't hang out on fb much anymore but I can fall into the Twitter abyss. Trying to find balance is so necessary and yet so difficult. Great post.

  2. Welcome to the Twitterverse, Jan! It's really fun, which is why I think it can definitely be a time suck. It's a great way to create visibility, though, if you're promoting a book or other product. I love the quick conversations that can ensue after commenting on someone else's updates and think I like that the best. Hope to see you there again soon. As you probably know already, I'm @bikelady.

  3. Jan - It's crazy how much time I waste on Twitter. And that's too funny that you don't hang out on FB FB friends have wondered where I've been the last two months! ;)If you figure out how to find the balance, please let me know the secret!

    Bike Lady - I do see the tremendous value Twitter could have if I had something to a book or product. Just wish I had something like that! In the meantime, I'm just reading and soaking up information...not sure what I'm going to do with it though!

    Thanks for stopping by!!!!

  4. Thanks for the shout out. One way to cut down on the Twitter junk is to categorize Twitter accounts you follow into Lists of subjects you're interested in, then when you're on Twitter time, read the lists. That will filter out a little of the extraneous stuff. I try to limit how much time I spend on Twitter et al too, but it's tough. Some people use add ons to Internet browsers that limit how much time they can spend on sites - after a certain number of minutes/hours the app cuts off access for the day/hour. I've never gone that far, at least not yet!

    Michelle Rafter

  5. Great post. I've wondered about the personal tweets to business tweets ratio. I don't want people thinking I only sell something, but I don't want to bother them with every interesting/insane thing my kids do. Do you want to know an author's personal thoughts or trust them to send you to their blog for the good stuff?

  6. Tia- Well, I want personal thoughts on business subjects for sure, and I don't mind the occasional "insane thing my kid just did" tweet. I just don't want a minute-by-minute diary or even an hour-by-hour diary of someone's personal day. I'm not familiar with categorizing Twitter accounts as Michelle has suggested, but I'm going to investigate that. Hopefully, that will be the solution.