What I’ve discovered about Twitter

December 22, 2009
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200912211730.jpg Over the last weekend I noticed a Tweet from analyst colleague Esteban Kolsky (@ekolsky) about a interesting project. The idea, dubbed #MonTwit, is to get a group of blogger / analysts to write about the same topic on the same day (today, to be exact). I love the idea and of course I’m a big fan of Twitter so I figured I’d join in.

I joined Twitter in June of 2008, somewhat late to the party in reality but I was experimenting with several types of social media at the time and got around to Twitter in June. There were only a few IDC analysts on Twitter back them and most of them were not that active. I went through the standard use cycle (at least from what I’ve seen); for the first month or so I was a Twitter voyeur (or as some people say a Twitter lurker) and mostly observed. Once I started to get the basic rhythm down I went into stage 2, the “ham sandwich” stage where the mundane was supposed to somehow be interesting. In fairness I also started sharing some of what I was working on and who I was talking to and over time I evolved out of the mundane and started to develop my own style and use cases.

Getting followers was very slow going at first until I decided to just

200912211730.jpg Over the last weekend I noticed a Tweet from analyst colleague Esteban Kolsky (@ekolsky) about a interesting project. The idea, dubbed #MonTwit, is to get a group of blogger / analysts to write about the same topic on the same day (today, to be exact). I love the idea and of course I’m a big fan of Twitter so I figured I’d join in.

I joined Twitter in June of 2008, somewhat late to the party in reality but I was experimenting with several types of social media at the time and got around to Twitter in June. There were only a few IDC analysts on Twitter back them and most of them were not that active. I went through the standard use cycle (at least from what I’ve seen); for the first month or so I was a Twitter voyeur (or as some people say a Twitter lurker) and mostly observed. Once I started to get the basic rhythm down I went into stage 2, the “ham sandwich” stage where the mundane was supposed to somehow be interesting. In fairness I also started sharing some of what I was working on and who I was talking to and over time I evolved out of the mundane and started to develop my own style and use cases.

Getting followers was very slow going at first until I decided to just go out and find people in my industry and follow them. I stumbled across Carter Lusher (@carterlusher) from SageCircle (actually he follows me; he’s great at finding analysts on Twitter) and realized he followed a lot of the people I was interested in so I used his list as a good start at my expansion. This was 3 or 4 months into the experiment and I think that was really when I found my own use cases and felt like I understood “Twitter etiquette.” Most importantly I started to recognize that it was a conversation and that the more you gave into the community the more you got back.

Once I was over around 500 followers I realized that I couldn’t stay on top of the noise through the Twitter web client, so I asked my Twitter community for advice and started trying different desktop and iPhone clients. For quite a while I used Tweetdeck on my MacBook but earlier this year I switched to Seesmic Desktop, which I still use today. The key for the desktop for me is a strong ability to segment my community into groups so that I can get what I need when I need it. I also like the support for Twitter lists and the Facebook integration. On my iPhone I use several clients, mostly Tweetdeck and Tweetie 2 presently. On my Blackberry I like Seesmic for BB.

I am often asked how I use Twitter and what benefit do I get from that use from people who are not on Twitter or who have not used it for any length of time. One of the first discoveries for me was that you really can’t understand Twitter until you use it for awhile. It’s like most social networks, immersion is really the only way to gain that understanding. I use Twitter for: 1. sharing information (relevant links, live Tweeting events, interesting things I learn from clients and end users, what I’m working on as well as post on this blog), 2. real-time breaking news, 3. information gathering (especially useful to follow events to which I am unable to attend), 4. short, quick data trending (ask a question, get lot’s of relevant answers), 5. “meeting” people in my industry, networking, 6. communication (for me, much more effective for real-time comms than email, but then I hate email), and 7. conversations.

One of my favorite fallouts of my involvement in Twitter has been the Tweetups and the people I’ve transitioned from just a Twitter connection to a real, face-to-face connection. I’ve met some very interesting people and connect with many of them both here in San Francisco and when I visit other cities. The community grows all the time and more and more I am able to connect on and off line with some great people.

Twitter is definitely an acquired taste and everyone defines their own use cases. That’s one of the great things about it, you can make it what you want… be involved a little or a lot, it’s your choice. The confined nature of the Tweet keeps things direct and clear for me. A day never goes by that I don’t learn something from Twitter, so for me, that’s real value. The more you put in, the more you get out…