One of the things I got out of BlogWorld was the social media tools available and more of an idea about how they work. I’ve been playing with Twitter over the last couple of weeks, it’s been rather interesting learning how this tool works, and I’ve enjoyed dipping in and out of the conversations.
So what have I discovered?
# (hashtags) are the twitter equivalent of themed discussion rooms. It makes tweets searchable and allows me to find what I’m interested in. If I am after Sounders news, search by “#sounders” and I really do get the most up to date rumours and news from some people I follow and trust in the Sounders supporters community.
There is another benefit of hashtags, I don’t have to follow the conversation in real time. I can wander off, do something else and know I can a pick up the same conversation later.
Which brings me neatly to the second thing I really like, the speed of reporting. My twitter feed told me that Kim Il Jong had died before either the BBC or CNN were reporting it. Even the most up to date and plugged in news service would struggle to beat Twitter in the speed of delivery.
Feeling into the speed of sharing is the quality. Twitter is about sharing information. Maybe just the people I follow, but no one talks about what they had for breakfast. Because no one is really interested in that. A lot of the information sharing is in the form of links. It’s not just news either, there is a lot of wonderfully entertaining ways to waste time, and people love to share them.
If something interests me I’ll so a search, and there is what I’m looking for, or more typically links to what I’m looking for. Not only does it report news quickly, but it is also very effective in aggregating that news. The more re-tweets and shares a link has, typically the higher the quality of the information.
The flip side of this easy sharing is that this is the Wild West, there is no verification of what’s being said. A link to a blog post doesn’t give any real authority to a post. The author gives that link, tweet or post credibility, Twitter does not.
The last thing for now is that it’s made me more aware of what I write. I only have 140 characters and couple of seconds to share my message. I don’t exactly agonize over what I’m writing, but always have to read it over, shorten, revise and refine. I think it’s making me a better writer, it’s certainly a skill that will translate to my PowerPoint pitches at work.
I’ve had a twitter account for a while (@davekean if you are interested), but never really understood how it works. These are my first thoughts after really trying to understand what it does, and more importantly where it adds value as a social media tool for me.