Twitter seems to be growing in popularity quite a bit, and everywhere I turn, it seems like a new company and/or celebrity is hopping on the bandwagon to see what the buzz is all about. I even heard it mentioned from someone presenting a car at the Detroit Auto Show this past weekend. A lot of people, lately, have asked me how I use Twitter, so I thought a blog post would seem like the best way to explain it, and possibly give tips on usage.
So, how do I use it?
Now that I’ve really found my footing with Twitter, I mainly use it for networking purposes, finding interesting links, and connecting with new people. It has allowed me to connect with tons of people, both in my industry, as well as local people in and out of my industry. Since using Twitter, I have almost tripled my network of people. The benefit of this has been excellent. Being heavily involved in Twitter, locally, has also lead me to Tweetups where you can continue the [140 character] conversations and meet others face to face. The Detroit Tweetups have been growing heavily each month, and there are always new people to meet.
In terms of my actual tweets, I try to make sure I stay relevant to those following me. I’m normally posting links to things that are digital related, whether that be design, development, or social media. Occasionally I’ll post about the sports that I watch as well. Overall, I just want to keep my stream of information relevant and interesting to those that are following me. No need to bore people with a bunch of personal rambles.
Following vs. Followers
I don’t follow every person that follows me for two reasons. The first reason is, not everyones information (or tweets) will be relevant to what I’m looking to gain out of Twitter. I hope people don’t take it personally when I don’t follow them right back, but that’s just how I feel. I don’t like following people for the sake of increasing my ‘following’ list. I need to be sure that the information I’m taking in will be relevant to me and my interests. With that said, if someone following me responds (via @reply) to one of my tweets, I always respond back to them. Just because I don’t follow you doesn’t mean I won’t interact with you if you direct a tweet towards me. I still like communicating with people.
The second reason I don’t follow every person that follows me, is because I try to limit the amount of information I take in. If you’re a heavy Twitter user, you know that it can become information-overload very quickly, especially if you don’t manage your followers list. So I try to be cautious about being overwhelmed with information.
There are literally tons of tools that can be used with Twitter, and the list doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I can’t say that I’ve tried them all, but I’ve definitely dabbled in more than enough of them to know which ones seem to work best.
…as your tweet volume and social interaction increases, the standard tools begin to degrade the exprience. (via)
TweetDeck is at the top of my list, which is an Adobe Air app. The one feature that has made managing tweets much easier is groups (thumbnail below). Currently, I have a group for my network (people I know personally), and a group for designers. Those are the two groups that I want to make sure I don’t miss tweets from. Having the columns in TweetDeck gives me a big glance at all things that are happening, and if I’m really busy or away from my computer, I can quickly scan through those groups to see what I’ve missed. I won’t go into heavy detail about Tweetdeck, but Ken Burbary wrote a good post on more features and how he uses TweetDeck.
Tweetie is hands down, the best iPhone Twitter client there is. The UI is very intuitive and it keeps getting better. It has a great feature set, and the load time for tweets is pretty fast. I would highly recommend that to anyone looking for a new Twitter app for their iPhone or iTouch.
Everyone is going to use Twitter differently, whether it’s personal, for business, or just exploring the digital world, but there are a few tips that I can pass on that span across all of those. The first tip is to interact with people. Don’t just use it as a platform to link up your blog. Twitter is so much more interesting when you’re interacting with others. You’d be surprised at the interesting debates and conversations that can pop up. It becomes more of a beneficial platform when you’re talking with people, and not talking to them.
Then I learned the secret of Twitter: don’t try to keep up. (via)
Don’t try and keep up with every single word said on Twitter, because it’s impossible, and you will drain yourself quickly trying to do so. I’ve actually tried it, and failed. Jump in and out of conversation at times, but pace yourself. It’s ok if you miss things, but the overall conversation will continue.
My last tip is to use Twitter’s search. It’s a great way to follow conversations (that use hashtags), or to see what people are saying about a certain topic. You can also find both new people to follow, and interesting links.
I hope this post was someone valuable to those reading. I know that I always like hearing how others use Twitter, and how it’s been beneficial to them. There are a ton more tips that can be given on the best ways to use Twitter, so please comment if you have more to add, and feel free to add me on Twitter as well.
How are you using Twitter? Has it been beneficial for you?