January 30, 2010

5 Tips to Make Twitter Your Valuable and Time Efficient Social Tool

Twitter is a great social web tool: it gives each user an unique opportunity to create a valuable personal network of friends and followers which share the same interests.

Nonetheless it can be a time consuming and frustrating experience for many people who strive to keep up with the updates and can get overwhelmed by the continuous buzz.

Here are a few suggestions which have helped me keep twitter under control and make it a precious web 2.0 tool for connecting with medical experts, that are willing to share their knowledge on this platform, and other fellow medical students.

1. - Don't follow users that use twitter as a news feed. There are web and desktop applications that suite this job, capturing the website rss feed and listing you all the updates. I think twitter wasn't really meant - even if it can also suite well enough - for being just another platform to make echo for what is published on blogs.

2. - Add users that are valuable: you don't need to follow back everyone who follows you. There is a lot of spam and users rushing to get the most followers as possible. If you are not in the show business, what counts to you is quality and not quantity. And what is most precious is your time: you don't want to waste it in reading trash, and missing interesting tweets and the opportunity to create valuable connections. You can continue to interact with a certain user using the @reply feature and still not follow every tweet he/she posts.

3. - Use a client and twitter search. Using a twitter client can be highly time sparing and efficient. Try a couple and choose what suits best for your usage. Setting up a twitter search can be very interesting if you are into specific topics. You can configure keywords such as (Mantle Cell Lymphoma, Whipple disease, Klinefelter Syndrome, etc) inherent to your ground of interests, and receive notification of recent tweets: in this way you can discover new insights and get in contact with other people who have just tweeted about a certain condition or topic.

4. - The more narrow the more valuable. Most people have indeed many interests in their lives, probably not just medicine or research on a certain condition. Nonetheless the more specific you keep your twitter experience, the more you will get out of it. If you are into Neurology but also love kite surfing, you may want to create two separate twitter accounts: most clients are now fully able to deal with multiple accounts, keeping them all in one window. I think sharing personal life experiences on twitter now and then is totally fine, but attention must be paid to not abuse other people's patience. In other words: please don't sync your blip.fm account so that a tweet gets posted with every single song that is playing on your mac. And please don't post too many @replies for personal chat: @replies will be read by everyone who is following you and the other @users. Please keep in mind that there is a "direct message" feature for private talk. A general exception is "web geek talk": everyone on twitter generally posts news and experiences with web tools or gadgets (eg. iPad talk right now): I find this is ok too if done in a reasonable way.

5. - Last but not least: remember Twitter is a social tool: be grateful to the experts and fellows that are willing to interact with you. Twitter reaches it's fullest potential as a social tool, not as a wall where post notes are glued on. My personal philosophy is to follow as few people as possible, trying to connect with them the most - in an insightful and interactive way for both of us.