Category Archives: how to tweet

Tune In to the Social Web


I often find myself describing the “social web” to my friends.  Many are interested and wonder what I mean.  I go on to describe it with a simple analogy.

The social web is like a engaging radio station, but imagine you have never purchased a radio.  The signals are moving around, there is great music, stimulating talk, and even some good educational content.  Until you get a radio and tune to the station, you will have no idea such interesting and engaging content is out there.  Buy that radio, tune in and presto! You discover a whole world of knowledge and conversation out there that had been passing you by.

The social web is much like that.  Through the combination of tweets and blog posts, there are exciting conversations taking place.  Most likely, you would really get value if only you knew they were taking place, listened in, and were confident in how to add your voice.

I was with a friend the other day who is searching for an high level business development position as a result of the, all to common, “corporate restructuring” of this day.   He is doing all the right things, making phone calls, attending networking events, and polishing up his resume, but he wanted to talk with me about twitter.  How would he get started and what should he do?  I gave him a short but simple tutorial, starting with my radio station analogy.  You see, he wants to join into the conversation about opportunities within his industry.  He wants to plug into the inside story on developing startups in his field and learn of trends and opportunities out in the market.  He just needed to get familiar with the new medium.

I took him through the basics:  get a nicely cropped photo for Twitter, turn off the protected tweets, start following a few interesting people.  I even told him to look for hash tags in his industry and then seek out and follow those interesting people tweeting with those tags. I think he is well on his way to get in on the conversation.

I have seen this repeated many times.  It is rewarding to bring others into the conversation and help them “tune their radios” to the right stations.  There is the blogging Mom who is now joining the conversation, the budding theologian sharing his thoughts through blog posts and tweets, and the computer network professional who is building his business through a reputation for good work ethic amplified by engaging blog posts and tweets.

You don’t need a fancy website, a custom domain name, or even Facebook to do this.  You just need to dive into the deep end of the social web, join into the tweet stream, and maybe even blog a bit.  There is a big world out there with hundreds of millions of interesting people.  Why don’t you just “tune your radio” to the right station and then join us in the social web.

Next thought…Building your personal brand on the social web.  Stay tuned.

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Twitter, The Activity Stream of the Social Web

I’ve been on Twitter almost 2 years now and have some observations. I love the transparency and the “Work Out Loud” attitude it promotes. It truly is the nervous system of the Social Web.

Let me mention some basics first and then dig into it a little on how I think this simple tool is revolutionizing interactions on the web. First of all the basics:

  • A tweet is a 140 character statement that is sent to followers.
  • A retweet (RT) is when a follower finds that interesting and sends it on to his/her followers
  • A hashtag (#E20 for example) is a user generated tag that helps identify a topic in the tweet.
  • One can search on a hashtag to find all recent tweets on a particular topic.
  • When you first sign up to twitter, you have no followers, and you follow no one…boring
  • In time, a new tweeter begins to follow interesting people and others begin to find the tweeter interesting and follow him/her.
  • Once you get to a critical mass (50 or so followers and following you) it starts to get interesting
  • A direct message (DM) is a private tweet delivered to one person
  • A @message is a semi-private tweet that is delivered to that one person, but visible only to all who follow both of you that are conversing. You compose the message by beginning with @ followed by the recepient’s twitter name.
  • A tweeter’s full tweet stream (except for DMs) is available for public viewing from the tweeter’s profile.
  • Many people use twitter.com for their tweet platform, but most use some other twitter “client” or program on their desktop, laptop, or mobile device. There are dozens of good twitter clients available for free.
  • Tweets can contain a link to interesting content. Most often the URL is shortened by an automated URL shortener (remember, we are working with just 140 characters here)

The beauty of Twitter is the simplicity. When you put this all together, you have a constant ebb and flow of conversation. The conversations create community. Communities create relationships, and Relationships create lasting value. Let me give you some examples.

The transparency of twitter allows one to “overhear” a conversation. When two people you follow are messaging each other, you can monitor the conversation in your main twitter stream. It’s interesting, you learn that a relationship exists just by witnessing the tweets.

Sometimes it’s like “high school”, you can see who is hanging with the “cool people”. For example if there is a “rock star” on a particular subject (call him Jerry) and I see he and a good friend of mine (call him John) are having a back and forth conversation, I can watch and say “Hey, I didn’t know John knew Jerry that well”. John must be a “rock star” too. My opinion of John is elevated and I suddenly see him in a different light.

The openness of the platform makes it easy to join the conversation. Simply enter you thoughts with the twitter IDs of John and Jerry at the beginning and just like that, you are in the conversation as well. I think that is one of the great appeals of twitter, the ability to have meaningful converations and begin meaningful relationships with just a set of short messages.

Another great thing is the ability to join in and stay out at your convenience. Since the tweets are all captured, you can pick up the conversation later and not miss a thing. However, with the steady stream of tweets, many are missed. That’s alright. If someone wants to catch your attention, they just need to enter your twitter name into a point for you and it shows in your @mentions stream.

Finally, there is nothing like the “now” effect of twitter. Again, a “rock star” may be on line tweeting and if you reply immediately, it is likely he or she will see it before it gets lost in the long stream of tweets from other fans. There is nothing else like the accessibility of those tweeting. Generally if you see a new tweet, you can bet they are online right now and reading what comes their way. Yet another way to cultivate the conversation and begin to build a relationship.

I wonder what you have observed in the subtlety of the interactions and relationships you have built in Twitter. Tweet me @jimworth or add your comments below.

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Scientists Tweet Too

>A colleague shared a story recently from Nature June 25, 2009 called “breaking the convention?”. It discussed how blogs and twitter are opening up scientific meetings to those not actually there.

It’s a great story. I’ve experienced this at several conferences already this year. I was able to follow based on the twitter stream in real time and then had a transcript of audience comments well afterward. You can do it too. Almost every technical conference today has a hash tag (e.g #e2conf) and every session has a hashtag with session number (#e2conf1). After the conference is over (or during the sessions) go to twitter, search on that hashtag and wallahh!, you have the insight. It’s great to view the twitter log along with the slides to get the full picture.

Some go on to package up the tweets using a tool like printyourtweets.com and end up with a nice PDF suitable for archiving and sharing.

Glad to see this coming to the scientific community too.
Jim.

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What is and How to Twitter Video

>Found this “How to” Video on the UK Telegraph: Video

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