I love Twitter. It has taken over my passion for blogging (sorry people). Our library has used it to promote Podcamps, Reading, The June
8th 9th Nova Scotia Election, and that’s just a start. I also notice a wide range of people trying Twitter once or twice only to reject it because they do not understand it, it doesn’t work for their needs or they just do not want their persona “out there” into the public.
One important way to understand Twitter is that it is just a way to leverage a computer and/or the Internet for social interaction. That’s right – Twitter is the “tool” and the World Wide Web or your computer is the actual service being offered. Maybe an analogy will help? A pot is for cooking, right? Do you absolutely need a pot to cook? No – you can cook in a variety of ways – microwave, open flame, barbeque etc etc etc. The pot merely structures the cooking experience in such as way so that you can use a stove, a ladel, an open fire or whatnot for cooking in a certain (ultimately pleasing) fashion. The point is that a pot is a tool, and it can work with a wide range of other tools to enhance the cooking experience even further. The World Wide Web, then is the kitchen where 1) the cooking happens and 2) the wide range of tools are handy to make different kinds of cooking happen.
Twitter then, is only one utensil in a kitchen full of great cooking tools. You ought to combine these tools to improve the way you diseminate and retrieve information. Here are five things I like to combine with Twitter to help me do what I need to do effectively.
- Bit.ly – Bit.ly is a link shortener, but with an added twist. Take any bit.ly url and add a “+” to it and you can get stats on how many times the link you used were clicked. For instance, I used the link ‘bit.ly/vmQHJ‘ to tell my Twitter stream about Andrew Baron (owner of Rocketboom)’s course that is happening at Humber College in Toronto. Just add a + to that link and you get a nice page full of yummy statistics about how people received your Tweet. Lovely and very very useful!
- Tweetdeck is a way to get all of your tweets to your desktop, organized according to your preferences. Twitter searches can be called, groups of people can be queried, you can even filter out groups of people. As someone with over 1500 followers, many of whom I follow back, Tweetdeck is a total lifesaver.
- If you use Twitter, you might as well use friendfeed as well. Friendfeed will pull in your Twitter statuses and let people comment, like, or otherwise continue the discussion about them. The only caveat here is that if you only feed your twitter statuses to friendfeed, you are likely to get ignored after a while.
- Twitter Search is an amazing tool, and deserves to be mentioned outside of the normal Twitter site. When I use the advanced search feature, I can get a look at what people are saying about libraries within a 50 mile radius of my locale. That is powerful data and a great way to learn more about your organization as well as have a speaking point for engaging customers about what services work for them or don’t.
- Twitter Sheep is just another fun way to look at Twitter because it will take a Twitter search or the followers for a Twitter account and create a nice tag cloud from it. For example, here is what Twitter thinks about the word “library” today.
There are countless tools that can leverage Twitter to make the World Wide Web a constantly cooler place to be. What are your favorite uses for Twitter peripherals?