Twitter Takeaways

First of all, many thanks to Mack Collier for being my inspiration for this post. We had a great conversation on Twitter last night, which started when he asked the Twitterverse:

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I replied to Mack that I think that I actually blog more because of Twitter, that what I read on Twitter inspires me. Then I realized something.

Twitter is my input. Blogging is my output. Let me explain.

Depending on what I’m working on and whether I need really focused time or not, I usually have Tweetdeck running in the background on my screen. I keep one eyeball on it, and if something catches my eye I’ll take a look. It’s kind of akin to the days when I used to work in the cube farm at the giant corporation. I would be working away, and I’d hear snippets of conversations all around me as I worked. Sometimes I’d listen more closely, if the subject was related to me or something I was interested in. Sometimes I’d stand up over the edge of my cubicle and contribute if I thought it would be helpful. Good thing about Twitter is, it’s far more colourful than those grey cubicle walls I suffered behind for all those years.

My point is, Twitter is one of my primary inputs of information. The conversations on there lead me to all sorts of things. It’s my newspaper, my radio, my TV, and my water cooler all in one.

I spend a good majority of my days writing. If I’m ever at a loss for inspiration, a particular word, or a way to phrase something, I take a few minutes and peruse Twitter. Sometimes I contribute, other times I just watch. Often I will find what I need just by watching.

When it comes to my blog, I probably get more ideas from Twitter than from anywhere else. Sure, it may be indirect (someone provides a link from their Twitter feed to a blog post or news story) but Twitter is still the source.

My blog is the primary output of all this stuff that comes in and then proceeds to fly around in my head. People often ask me how I get my blog ideas. I don’t really have a formula, which is probably why I don’t post every day. Things just come to me and then I need to write about them. I don’t have a massive list of posts I need to write. I have a few scribbles in the “Notes” application on my iPhone. I blog about what I see and experience around me, and that immediacy is what I like about it. I don’t heavily edit things either. I write stream of consciousness for the most part, then tweak.

As Mack said last night, after I mentioned I’d be posting about our conversation in the morning:

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Mack and I have never met, and we live in different countries. Yet, we were able to make a connection, have a conversation, and be inspired to think about things a little more deeply. And, he brought me the input that was required in order for me to have this output here. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? It blows mine all the time.

One More Twitter Takeaway

Here’s a tip, something I just thought of this morning. I was visiting my brother and sister in law yesterday and we got to talking about Twitter. They both have accounts that they don’t really use, and I got the usual “I don’t really get it” response from them. I tried to give the typical explanations, and my sis-in-law did seem a bit more intrigued by those. But today, I have discovered the thing that is going to get her to see the value.

You see, she’s into wine in a big way, and has some pretty interesting opinions about the wine industry, particularly as it relates to the business side of things. So this morning I did a few searches on Twitter Search around wine and business, and I think that the results I got will be very exciting to her. I do believe that now, she will immediately see how she can benefit, when she sees how many other people are talking about the same things she is passionate about. If you are trying to show someone the value of Twitter, show them a couple of Twitter Searches on topics of interest to them. I think they may start to see things differently.

How to Shape YOUR Online Experience

I saw a cool post this morning on Social Media Today from guest blogger Lena West of xynoMedia. She talks about how she personally deals with social media in her own workflow, and points out that “last time I checked, we each set the rules for how we interact with other people. Social media is no different.”

Lena is so right. We spend a lot of time talking about the most effective way to use social media tools, to get the best results, the biggest ROI and so on. But really, at the end of the day, it’s about creating your OWN experience. There’s no perfect fit that works for everyone.

We all use the Internet in different ways. I thought it would be great for us to share some of the ways we use the Web’s bountiful offerings, for the benefit of anyone who might be seeking some more information about what’s what and different ways people shape their online experience.

I’ll start, then you provide your own tips in the comments, okay?

Email. I am working on tackling my email differently. I have three email accounts – my work email, my personal email, and my college email. I get upwards of 20 emails a week from students (doesn’t seem like much until you realize that they are mostly questions that require some sort of acknowledgement or response). I get countless work emails per day, and then my personal stuff, most of which is generated from friends or from my social networks. I use Gmail to catch all of my email in one place. I use labels and filters to pre-sort my college email (which I only check twice a week). I recently discovered AwayFind thanks to this guy and although I’ve yet to receive an urgent contact, I have the peace of mind knowing that I can step away from my email for several hours and not worry about missing something critical. (My AwayFind review is coming soon, BTW).

Twitter. I’m a power user of Twitter. It’s network central for me. I have many forms of communication on Twitter. I use it to talk about random things. I use it to post links to interesting content I’ve discovered or to re-post (a.k.a. re-tweet) others’ interesting info. I use it to post links to my own blog posts (in moderation). I use it to have conversations with people, and I’ve even used it to edit a video (through direct messages). TweetDeck is my tool of choice on my desktop computer, because it allows me to manage my feed, my replies and my direct messages. I use TwitterFon on my iPhone because I like the interface.

Delicious. I get a ton of use out of my Delicious account. Delicious is a social bookmarking tool but what I like is it allows me to tag groups of bookmarks for different purposes. I collect bookmarks for use in my classes, bookmarks that I share out to my students, and I even have the demo reel for our company bookmarked through delicious. It’s super easy, whenever a new project goes online somewhere, I just bookmark it, tag it, and voila! I also have my “Other Writings” column over on the right there done through delicious. I just tag any links to other online writing I’ve done and boom! It shows up in that column. Pretty neat!

Those are just three of the tools I use online to help me shape my experience. I do have others but I want to hear your take. Post in the comments what tools you use and how you use them. Hopefully we can pass on some valuable info to others, and they can take what they need from our collective advice and use it to shape their own experience.