When I started on the path of using Twitter, it was fairly easy getting used to keep in touch with people, albeit, a bit like a stalkers dream! (not that i am a stalker! I swear!). I was led into it by a former collegue at PayPal, Mark Trammell. I kept hearing him talk about it, and me being the early adopter I am, I figured I’d give it a whirl! (no pun intended). Signed up, added about 20-30 people and I was tweeting! (Probably more than some people would have liked!)
I loved it though, I was figured out all the cool stuff going on in SF, getting blog posts pushed to me, etc. I also realized that I could connect and converse with people through twitter that I probably wouldn’t have been as in touch with before. I wanted more though, sitting there with those slim stats, I wasn’t able to be the social butterfly I think people know me to be. That said, I went on the hunt, became a total twitter advocate, promoted it at a geek dinner I threw to get people to sign up so we could stay in touch!
Then SMX West was here and it was like a tipping point. This is where I realized that I could not only connect with people, I could engage in conversation and promote content when necessary! Overall it was a great personal branding tool. Being fully transparent, I would have to say that I have benefitted from this tremendously, not only career wise, but also in keeping up to date with industry news, events, etc.
Why Twitter is useful, from my eyes
There have been soooo many posts already about Twitter being useful and why. But, I wanted to provide my perspective on why I think twitter has been useful to me. Granted, I may not have “the most followers” or anything like that, but that was never my goal. My goal was to connect with like minded people, engage in the community (being general web stuff or specific to SEO, Social Media, and Marketing), and/or grow as a professional in the industry.
I never thought I would be able to connect with people like Chris Winfield, Todd Malicoat, Brent Csutoras, Todd Friesen, and Steve Ganz as much as I did. These are people I had met at some point, but never got the ability to have daily or even weekly conversations with because of timezones, schedules, locations, etc. Thanks to Twitter I have been able to keep in touch with them and now would say I consider them good friends and peers. This was made possible by simply participating, engaging, and starting conversations, via Twitter.
Twitter tools and staying productive
But, what about work, what about productivity losses, etc. Isn’t that going to be a problem!? To start, there are some great tools that help with twitter marketing. But, lets focus on productivity, right away I setup Gtalk to take in my twitter feed, so that it wouldn’t interfere with the day-to-day and I could passively check updates, etc. (that worked great, until twitter started running into server issues, but I digress) Lately, I have been using Twhirl for it all and it has been great to be able to be able to get involved in conversations, etc. and to be honest, at this point, prefer using it over IM.
Help Twitter, Help you!
Twitter can be a helpful tool to help you with your daily routine, tasks that you need to perform, making purchases, etc. For example, twitter gave me a quick opportunity to find relevant links within a short period of time through @ and Direct Messages sent based on a tweet I sent out:
Or, how about the time that I was looking for a free FTP client for the Mac and the winner from the poll. It was great that so many people replied, including people that were going to take the recommendation:
Just today, I threw out a poll about how people approach titles and h1′s in article pages and blog posts to help with some ideas that I was playing around with and get an outside view of peoples approachses. I get the following replies and helped with the thought process:
I have leveraged the great community for my own research, pricing questions, organizing events, pushing content, and questions/polls/engagement/etc. Which will lead me too the most important part of twitter, the community.
The community, engagement, and participation are most important
Social media is all about engaging and participating in the community, and twitter does not fall short here one bit. In fact, I have to say that is the reason that I have fallen in love with using twitter, because it allows me to participate in conversations. It allowed me, as I mentioned, to keep in touch, find and meet new people, and tighten existing relationships. I could go to a conference, meet some new people, we start following each other and exchange conversations easily.
Twitter is about all of that. It is about participation. It is about being involved in the community. It is about engaging people. I love that I can get into work and throughout the day participate in some mind share, help someone with a question or issue they have, or even just casually engage in conversations.
That is great and all and sounds like a time waste, but it truly isn’t. There are tons of ways that Twitter becomes useful once you are engaged. Think of all the time you could save having industry news and updates pushed to you once its published. This is a huge benefit for me, since sometimes I get too caught up in what I am doing that I don’t take a second to read the industry news, updates, thoughts, etc. On that same token, pushing your own content out to the people following you and expanding your readership or the reach of your audience. I also save time by solving problems, making decisions, and/or asking a poll/question to a large group and getting answers quicker then over email or IM conversations.
To Summize my Twitter thoughts
I have really enjoyed using twitter as a connectivity and personal branding tool. The connections I have made and the relationships I have built I am so grateful for, because it has allowed me to attain goals, otherwise unattainable. I love that I am able to push my content out, be the social butterfly that I am in setting up and organizing events, and just being involved in the community overall.