Having perused and tested most applications, my preference rests with Twitter. If you’re not using it already, chances are you’ve heard of it. Much talk surrounds the trend for celebrities to use Twitter to keep in touch with their fan base with regular status updates and tidbits of their lives. But it’s not just for the celebs. This nifty little web application will keep you connected to people and conversations out there in the world (or Twitterverse) that can massively expand your contacts, and your horizons, in a heart beat.
How does Twitter work? Twitter’s key attraction is its simplicity. You set up an account and user name and away you go. Twitter asks just one question of you ‘What are you doing?’ Your answer must be 140 characters or less, so succinctness is key. You can update your status via the web, instant messenger or mobile phone. You can search for friends, celebs or industry leaders and choose to ‘follow’ them, which enables you to read and be informed of their updates. Likewise these people and anyone else on the Twitterverse can choose to ‘follow’ you.
Here’s how I tame the Twitter beast
Firstly I downloaded a free Twitter management application called TweetDeck. It’s a personal Twitter management application which allows you to group your contacts in a variety of ways. This is particularly useful if you are following more than a handful of people.
Some people follow list runs into the thousands, and clearly this puts them you in danger of information overload. TweetDeck can help by managing the different people you choose to follow. For example my TweetDeck group contacts are labeled as co-workers, VIPs (industry leaders and experts), media and friends.
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The application enables me to monitor the updates as they occur, at a glance, in order of priority – which makes consuming the information more streamlined and much more enjoyable.
TweetDeck also helps me to track keywords and searches of interest to me: web design, interactive, innovation, small business and entrepreneurs. I can also monitor conversations people may be having about me, my business or my competitors. It may sound a lot like Big Brother type eavesdropping, but it’s perfectly acceptable in the Twitterverse and in fact is an inbuilt function of Twitter’s technology.
TweetDeck also enables me to easily track trending (or popular) topics, which I find particularly useful in the digital industry, which is constantly shifting. If there is breaking news about new trends and technology out there, I want to know about it, and chances are the first I’m going to hear of it is on Twitter as it’s information broadcast in real-time.
As mentioned earlier, Twitter’s appeal lies in its simplicity. It is basically a broadcast system which you can tune into and out of as you see fit. This means pretty much anyone can get started quickly, and the more you use it, the more comfortable with it you become, so you can add new features and use it to greater effect.
So do take a moment to check it out for yourself and spend more than five minutes using it. After all you didn’t give up driving a car when you first learnt because it was hard did you? Well the same applies to Twitter.