Many people think Twitter occupies the same space as Facebook — a place to share what you’re doing with family and friends. Most people seem to believe it really is the ultimate in navel-gazing and self-promotion. In other words, they see it as a complete waste of time.
I think that’s because they’re not using it right. For instance, my husband was a sometimes Twitter user, but he mostly followed elite runners. One day he had a programming problem with SAP, and he was complaining about how long it would take him to figure it out.
“Why don’t you pose the question on Twitter with an SAP hashtag?” I suggested.
He’d never thought about it. He did, and within minutes, he’d been pointed in the right direction.
Twitter can be tricky. As I’ve said before, it feels like yelling down a hall of doors and hoping someone answers you.
But, used wisely and regularly, I think it can be a great tool for any information management professional. There’s always a ton of link sharing and discussions about information management; in fact, most webinars these days allow discussion on Twitter via hashtags. These can be fun to follow, even if you aren’t attending the event.
The key is to find the right people to follow. A good Twitter follow will post a mix of posts. True, there will be promotion pieces (“Come read what I wrote” — guilty — or “Here’s our new product”), but the user should also share more broadly. A good Twitter follow will act as a living filter for you, sharing best practices, top-notch news and articles.
But the best Twitter follow will give context to that information, either through personal experience, questions or additional information. By reading their tweets, you’ll find out about the best articles, posts, conferences and events.
You can follow discussions between experts even if you can’t attend an event. And if you’re really lucky and interactive, when you have a problem, you might be able to get an answer when you shout down that hall; although, obviously, you don’t want to be the person always asking for help. Social media is always a two-way street.
I’ve also been a user for several years now. I’ve managed to tweak my feed so that it’s fun, funny and informative. It fits my both my work and my personality, with a ton of smart data and integration people, but a few B-grade actors (the Chin is on Twitter and really uses it!) and political feeds thrown in for spice.
In general, I would say that’s what makes Twitter unique. Unlike LinkedIn, it’s not all stiffy and professional-focused, but unlike Facebook, your mom isn’t going to show up and there are very few cat tweets.
On the other hand, you might notice Monday morning that my last tweet was about watching the latest episode of “Finding Bigfoot.”
Only you can decide if you’re willing to tolerate an occasional political tweet from an analyst who is otherwise providing top-notch observations on data management. But that can also be a good thing, allowing you to connect with an expert in your field in a different way. Fortunately, it’s hard to do a lot of alienation in 140 characters.
If you haven’t tried Twitter — or tried it and found it useful — there are a two steps you can take to make it more productive for you.
One, be sure to add any third parties, including consultants and niche software companies you may use. There’s a good chance they’re on Twitter, sharing updates, fixes and tricks.
Second, find your favorite publications and analysts. There are plenty of both on Twitter as well, although they vary tremendously in how good they are at using the social media site. For instance, most of us Twitter as a more personalize RSS feed, retweeting pieces that caught our eye. Plenty of industry thought-leaders will post links to new copy there, which is nice, but Twitter isn’t a vanity RSS feed. Some people understand this better than others.
Tomorrow, I’ll share my pick for the four must-follow Twitter users in data management.