Friday, November 27, 2009

Topical Twittering: My Alternate, & More Valuable, Approach to Twitter

As many of you know, I have been a productive user and advocate of Twitter for quite a while now. I find Twitter invaluable as a teaching, research and networking tool. I have always used it more for professional, than for personal uses.

Initially, I approached Twitter by following individuals I knew or who were followed by people I followed. I have to say, though, that over time I have evolved towards following topics using twitter keyword search and hashtags. This approach allows me to avoid the clutter of irrelevant tweets of those I follow and to isolate those relevant tweets related to my personal and professional interests. For instance, I have saved searches for storytelling, taoism, knowledge management (#km), mindfulness (#mindful), etc., and whenever anyone on Twitter (whether I follow them or not) tweets using these words or hastags, I pick it up. I further follow hashtags of conferences and educational events of interest, i.e., #fdasm, #health2con, etc., as these allow me to gain perspectives & ask questions of conference attendees & interesteds before, during and after the event.

This topical approach has allowed me to get more out of every minute I invest in Twitter, as well as to build a more relevant network of tweeters with common interests. I would not have met these relevant tweeters just by following those who follow who I follow. (Say that 10 times.) I find that I rarely look at my general timeline anymore as I focus my Twitter time on my search & hashtag feeds.

Yes, I know I am missing the serendipitous aspects of Twitter which occurs when I read random Tweets by those I follow. The fact is that this is still available to me, as I have not unfollowed those I follow. My follows and my searched feeds, allow me to have the best of both worlds when I choose to have either or both. Ah, I love Twitter! The world's "stream of consciousness" at my fingertips!

PS - Additionally, I recommend Tweetdeck for laptop and iPhone, as the best way to organize and track your relevant Twitter feeds. I also recommend you use relevant hashtags in your tweets to assure they get picked up by those who care the most about the topic you are tweeting about.

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