Monday, July 18, 2011

What you can learn in 3 years on Twitter

They tell me it's my third anniversary on Twitter today (you can find out such things here). As of this morning, I've put in 13,300 tweets, which averages out to a dozen a day. That won't set any records and I am clearly not an early adopter. But can you tell it's one of my favorite social tools?

That's in part because I learn so much on Twitter. There is no better send-up-a-flare source for breaking news, and it's put excitement and participation back into stories that are breaking in astonishing ways. The daily practice of editing or writing for brevity might just be the writer's best friend, and my inner headline writer is getting far more exercise these days. Few tools are as effective in driving traffic to my blogs as Twitter is. The open nature of the network means I can follow a wide variety of people and organizations and I do, to have great examples for my clients; it also means I can be followed by those with an interest in what I'm doing, which has turned out to be a great way to meet new clients and new friends. I've met and had wonderful, useful feedback from readers of my blogs on Twitter, feedback I might not otherwise get--but it's enriched both blogs and my work in general. I know I read more than I did before using Twitter, because it's pointed me to so many useful articles and posts. I follow lots of canaries in the coal mine and stalkers of just the information I'm seeking, my personal curators, as I like to think of them.

Balancing the personal and professional on Twitter, after some planning and thinking that through, has become second nature. I don't want to be all one or the other, in real life or on Twitter. I've found wonderful new friends and new clients, and reinforced longstanding relationships. A colleague I used to see once or twice a year at professional meetings said at the last one, "I used to come to this meeting to see people I hadn't seen all year. Now because of Twitter, I come to see people I'm talking to every day." Meetups in real life get richer and more fun, and I have a finely honed sense of the rhythms of my particular network and its work and play habits--there's something going on 24 hours a day, ebbing and flowing, in every time zone among those I follow. That in itself is a useful reminder each day.

If you're looking for the book on how to use Twitter effectively, especially for a team or to set office norms, go with The Twitter Book,co-authored by Twitter pal and early user Sarah Milstein. I'm honored to appear in it as a good example. What have you learned in your time on Twitter?

Related posts: 10 ways I use Twitter to boost my creativity

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