Why Twitter is so great

I’ll try to keep this ode to a corporate service from being too gushing – but recent events (a parliamentary debate, and a short training for a colleague struggling with the evils of overflowing email inboxes) have yet again driven home my appreciation of Twitter as the most interesting social media platform around. I regularly hold talks about social media in front of students and professionals – normally in the context on how they can be utilised to help them ‘get a job’. This is a ploy by me though, because I am interested in getting people engaged with social media much more than just for their job hunt – I want them to become more engaged with society, current affairs, while at the same time declutter their inboxes. And Twitter is still IMHO the most versatile and flexible tool – especially if combined with hootsuite, and RSS feeds. It’s versatile, as tweets can be channelled into other social networks, so one update can go a long way reaching out to your diverse audiences – helping you keep in touch. From a mobile device, it becomes a real-time engagement tool, not only for sharing thoughts and opinions (yes, even in those areas where many an academic colleague has told me “my subject area doesn’t do social media” – there’s none I haven’t been able to find yet), but also to find information – often directly from the original source. Often, I use it to physically meet people in real life – enabling to network significantly beyond my traditional reach as a suit sitting in an office and going to internal meetings. An excellent example of public engagement though was delivered by the British lower house yesterday, when live commentary on #equalmarriage on Twitter was as so often more timely than conventional media – and at the same time gave you an opportunity to engage directly with the MPs who were in the progress of voting. When the news about the vote came through, I was on a train with limited connectivity – but trusty old Twitter delivered still, even though something like 20 messages came in between every refresh click. This is where Twitter’s flexibility comes to the fore – it’s better on mobile than on a PC, and allows you to engage with the topics that interest you instantly. As with any media source, you have to filter the noise from real information – but there was plenty of the latter. I have written about how my times on the train are often the most productive in the day (for both me and indirectly at least, my employer) and that it’s vital for any professional (and student aspiring to be one) to be up to date on current affairs at any time – with Twitter being currently the best one. I do get the occasional  push back on this point during my talks, against the alleged tyranny of having to stay ‘connected’ at all times, and ‘check yet another inbox’. And my answer is – yes, I think we have no choice about that. It’s a key factor if we want to be effective as professionals – and employable. Twitter (combined with use of RSS feeds) is currently the best tool to achieve this – and to simplify the constant streams of information we are now required to process. And if used effectively, it’s even less stressful than dealing with the deluge of emails most of us have to handle day in day out. I’m ending the fan boy mode for now – and look forward to my next seminars to students on the topic coming up soon. Hopefully, I’ll get some to see what I see in Twitter.

February 7th, 2013 by