Twitter is still growing rapidly with 9.4 million new users in January 2010 alone and more than 1 billion tweets per month. I'm approaching my first Twitter anniversary and by recently implementing a simple guideline for whom I follow, I've found that the tool has become much more useful. I know that many of our members are considering whether Twitter may actually have some value for their working lives, so I thought I would share a note on how I use the tool.
On a busy working day, the only 2 use cases for my usage of Twitter are:
- Follow interesting individuals and companies to easily stay up-to-date. I used to go through my RSS feeds at least daily, but now I do it only once or twice a week, as Twitter provides me with most of the information.
- Ask questions and get feedback from peers. Twitter works really well when I want some feedback, but don't want to send too many e-mails to my contacts. Since we are all flooded with e-mails, Twitter is a neat alternative, where everybody can easily decide whether they would like to reply to a question on Twitter or not.
I used to casually follow other Twitter users and back in August posted a listing of 10 online professionals to watch on Twitter in 2009. Since then I've implemented what I call a
Twitter quantity-rule: To reduce noise, I consequently unfollow users with more tweets than followers.
Silicon Valley tech blogger Louis Gray called this the Twitter Noise Ratio back in April 2008.
This means that I might lose out on contributions from some great minds that use Twitter like a fire-hose. I simply found that it drowned in noise and it was impossible to keep up with the folks I really wanted to keep up with. As a side effect, this means that today I am actually only following 2 of the 10 on my 6 months old list (@jdavidhobbs and @kasthomas. Sorry @jeanmariepascal, you have a nice tweet vs. follower ratio, but too many French tweets for my language skills!)
These days I rarely visit twitter.com, except to check the tweets vs. followers ratio for a given user. Instead I use TweetDeck to view and write tweets. TweetDeck makes re-tweeting easy and automatically shortens URL's to save characters. I also have a few search columns open, including one for fun to follow @ChuckNorriz.
Having read this far you might be thinking: How do I get more followers? Kas Thomas, analyst at CMS Watch, has described How do you get 10K Twitter-followers legitimately? My followers have arrived in a less systematic way, some tweets are popular and are commented on or re-tweeted, while others don't get any response. I try to include a Twitter hashtag when relevant and a @username when I want to highlight or thank somebody.
That's basically it. Twitter is many things to many people. Jed Cawthorne, Senior Specialist, Knowledge Management at Canadian Tire Corporation recently posted a good example of how Twitter can be very helpful at work. How do you use Twitter in a work context?