The Benefits of Twitter

Follow Me on TwitterAfter all these years, it still amuses me to hear people say “I don’t understand Twitter.”  It’s funny how we take for granted that something that has become so seemingly common place to many of us is still a mystery to others.  Twitter defines itself as:  “a real~time information network powered by people all around the world that lets you share and discover what is happening now.”  In other words, it’s a community of people who share information as it happens.

So how is this useful?  Oh, let me count the ways…

1.  Instant Answers ~ Sometimes I have questions about things like blogging and it’s great to be able to tap the hive mind and get an immediate answer.

2.  Conference tweeting ~ Because I’m not working as a librarian, I can’t afford to attend different library conferences, but I can still get some of the benefits of attendance by reading the tweets of librarians in attendance.

3.  Sense of community ~ Yes, I can draw support from my face~to~face friends but being able to connect to a community of like~minded folks is a wonderful thing.

4.  Instant news ~  We’ve all seen news reports about people finding out about arrests, earthquakes and floods not from traditional news outlets but from Twitter and, honestly, this is how I get most of my news.  I do follow~up with traditional news outlets but I rely on Twitter for breaking information.

Yes, Twitter can be overwhelming and it can be full of mindless chatter but there are tools that you can use to make Twitter a more positive experience:

1.  TweetDeck ~ Quite possibly my favorite desktop Twitter platform because it’s so easy to use.  You can save customize your Twitter experience by saving searches, connect with Facebook or Myspace, etc.

2.  Seesmic ~ My favorite mobile Twitter platform.  I have a Droid and I’ve found that Seesmic is the easiest to use but when I had my BlackBerry I used UberTwitter.

3.  Twitter Lists ~ I divide the people that I follow into lists based on how I’ve met them or what they mostly tweet about, this helps to cut out chatter by following only the conversations that I’m interested in at that moment.

Twitter may not be for everyone, but I’ve found that it’s a wonderful tool for promoting my blog posts, sharing information with others and simply connecting with people outside of my immediate neighborhood.  Do you use Twitter?  If so, what do you see as some of the benefits?  And if not, why not?

This post was written as part of the 31 Day Problogger Challenge that is being sponsored by SITS.

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