How I use Twitter

In his closing presentation at the recent Technical Communications Conference, RJ Jacquez outlined how he uses Twitter as a way to communicate with the users of his product, and as a way to share ideas with, and learn from, other technical communication professionals.

There were several people at TCUK09 that used Twitter throughout the conference, sharing quotes, thoughts and ideas about various presentations and I eded up having a few conversations about why I use Twitter so I thought I’d capture my thinking here.

I have two Twitter accounts, one for personal use and one for professional use. The personal account is used for keeping up with people I know in social terms, and most of the messages are chatty, with the occasional link or photo. I find it a good way to keep up with people but I don’t rely on it so if I don’t check it for a day or so then it’s not something I lose sleep about.

My professional account is used to share my thoughts about either my current work or on various aspects of our profession, responding to things posted by other people, or tracking through the myriad of useful links that people share.

And that to me is one of the key reasons for using Twitter. It’s a filter, a filter of trusted sources, that constantly points out things I wouldn’t have found myself and where I can have discussions with my peers about things that interest me.

Our profession covers such a wide area that keeping up with the latest trends and discussions on the fringes can be nigh on impossible. Twitter offers me a way to keep in touch, to be part of the conversation about these things, and whilst it can be seen to be frivolous, the value to be gained outweighs the downsides.

However, like most social networking or social media services, you get out what you put in and when it comes to Twitter, you really need to try it to find out if you can benefit for it.

You can follow me on Twitter.

3 comments

  1. As both a presenter and attendee at TCUK09, didn’t you find it offputting to have people frantically tweeting during presentation?

  2. Cecily,

    Can’t say it bothered me, nor did I notice it much. The very nature of only having 140 characters mean it’s a quick thing to do, and most people only posted once or twice during any presentation.

    In a way it validates that you are saying something interesting to others, and there is a whole other concept around the ‘back channel’ which now takes place in many technical conferences, of which Twitter is a part.

    Also not sure I’d use the word ‘frantic’ as it’s no more or less noticeable than someone writing down some notes during your presentation and that happens a lot.

  3. I noticed someone doing this once at my TCUK presentation, and it did completely throw me for a moment as I realised what they were probably doing (I say that; they might have been checking eBay ;o) … but I got over it after that initial moment of “eeek!”

    I think it will become increasingly common for people to be tapping away, (they could quite easily be taking notes on their mobile devices; I do this) so I think we will probably go from being distracted by it to not thinking of it as unusual.

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