Saturday, April 4, 2009

What is that Twitter thing you do?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine from college left me a message in Facebook. She asked me, "When you get a chance could you explain this Twitter thing you do?

Twitter defined in Wikipedia:

"Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets."

Twitter messages--tweets, limited to 140 characters--can be sent and received from the web site, from Twitter desktop applications, and from a cell phone as text SMS messages.

Some basic information on Twitter can be found:

How Twitter works and some history behind Twitter

Why I use and like Twitter

I can easily get a feel for what people (people who I have an interest in) are reading, thinking, and doing in a non-disruptive way. Twitter is pervasive, but unobtrusive. I decide when I pay close attention, scan, or ignore Twitter messages.

Twitter is a great way to listen.

Those I follow don't have to follow me. In other words, the "friendship" does not have to reciprocal, like it is in Facebook and Plaxo.

Twitter messages are short so each individual message does not take much time. Someone who says they don't have time to use Twitter does not understand how easy it is or they may not be using the right Twitter application.

Twitter friends can be information streams (AUTigers, AuburnU , abc3340, ittotd-IT Tip of the Day).

Most friends provide conversations and resources. The value of Twitter is found in interactions, engagements, and resources shared.

How I use Twitter

I send Twitter messages from the Twitter web page, Twhirl, TweetDeck, and Text SMS.

I received messages in the same applications. However, I reserve the Text SMS messages for my closest Twitter friends.

Depending on what I am doing and how long I may not have access to a computer, I sometimes use TinyTwitter application on my phone to receive all Twitter messages.

Twhirl and Tweetdeck as desktop applications.

Twhirl runs continuously on my desktop computer at work and my notebook. I have learned to ignore it most of the time. However, during slow moments of the day, I glance at the incoming Tweets. The reply and the direct message tweets make a different noise so I know when to pay attention to those.

TweetDeck also runs continuously on my 2nd monitor on my computer at the office. (Lately, I have also left Facebook running continuously on the same monitor). I divided Tweetdeck tweets into columns based on my priority of interests. Closest friends and colleagues make up one column. Tweets coming from those in professional areas that have my interests make up another column. My replies and direct messages make up two other columns. And, last all tweets make up the last column. Tweetdeck is probably not necessary if you do not follow a lot of people. Search and filtering in Tweetdeck have also helped me keep up with specific information.

I integrate Twitter with other networks by sending tweets to Friendfeed, Plaxo, and Facebook status updates.

Additionally, I send RSS feeds of Twitter messages, particularly replies to my messages to my feed reader. These feeds are a duplicative effort, but I I don't want to miss any replies.

Sometimes I use TwitPic to send a picture from my phone to Twitter.

Some resources

Twitter in Plain English

How to Get Started on Twitter

Email vs Twitter

15 Minute Showcase on Twitter

Getting more out of Twitter

Advantages of Twitter Tags: