There are three types of people: Those who use Twitter, those who never heard of it, and those who heard of it but can’t imagine why they should care. Let me talk for a moment to this last group. Not to change your mind, but just to give you a different perspective.
“Why would I care to hear what someone had for breakfast?” That’s the most common question I get from people who haven’t experimented with Twitter. Fair enough, I suppose, because there are actually people who seem to get joy from broadcasting the minutiae of their day.
I don’t follow them.
What’s far more interesting to me is to hear from people who are doing interesting things in fields that I care about. There’s a fair number of professional coaches who tweet, for instance, and this lets me know very quickly when something interesting is happening.
Why would I want to know that? Because I might want to engage in a conversation about it. If I wait for someone to write up something in a newsletter, then it’s not really a conversation anymore. Sure, I might send the author a comment – but to them, it’s not as relevant because they might have been thinking about it a couple of weeks ago. If I want to connect to an industry leader in actual conversation, it’s much more interesting to do it when both they and I have our interest piqued.
I tend to only put out a few tweets a week (@carldier), but I try to make them relevant to what I’m working on and what my followers might quickly get value from. Sometimes a conversation with someone will result – on Twitter, on e-mail, Facebook or LinkedIn – and it’s common for useful value to come out of it.
How do you find people who you might want to follow? First, decide what kinds of conversations you enjoy getting hooked up with. This might be your professional areas of expertise, your local community, or your hobbies and social interests. Then search Twitter for who’s engaging in talking about these topics, and follow those who seem to be saying the most intelligent and useful things.
The nice thing is that you can just as easily STOP following them; it’s not like they would even know. You’re not insulting anyone.
In my previous job, I had the need to follow the progress of a corporate acquisition of one of our competitors. I started using a tool called TweetDeck to monitor conversations which talked about the two companies, so I was able to constantly find – within minutes – all the useful information which was being published anywhere on the Web. I was able to give interesting and relevant updates to my bosses every day, based on what was happening in real time.
That just wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago without an army of analysts and news hounds. Now, the power of millions of Twitter users connected me up with the information within a matter of minutes.
Twitter can be incredibly useful if you use it intelligently. Just don’t let it consume too much of your time – it can be very distracting if you let it.
by Carl Dierschow