The Power and Perils of Twitter: A Case Study
I have recently begun to spend “a bit” of time with Twitter. Twitter is a social networking utility that allows you to answer the question, “What Are You Doing?” by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called “tweets”, to your friends, or “followers.”
I say “a bit” of time purposely, for the addiction to reading and writing tweets can be a real time bandit. More on this below.
The power of Twitter, however, can be enormous, if one desires to gain insights and tips on most any subject, establish networking relationships with others or even find work.
In my case I was fortunate to be following the tweets of Michelle Gervais, Editor of Fine Gardening Magazine; she expressed a need for a writer from my region, and I responded tentatively that I did have writing experience.
After a few emails and one phone call I wrote the article, and it was accepted with praise. The pay is very fair, but more importantly I can claim to “have written for a national gardening magazine”. With increased confidence and a “feather in my cap”, I can pursue additional writing assignments.
Some folks enjoy Twitter simply for the conversation; even constrained by the 140 character limit, quite lively conversations can be had on subjects ranging from politics to recipes.
The perils of Twitter are formidable if your self discipline is at all lacking. When I first set up my account and checked in, I “got lost” in the ongoing dialogues of my rapidly growing list of followers. There is so much information, networking and social possibility and opportunity, that following a few hundred people could lead to a full-time Twitter experience.
So after several very long sessions of mind boggling reading, following, tweeting, retweeting, following links and reading tweeps’ profiles, I came to the realization that things had to change.
To keep business productivity, or some sense of it, I opened Tweetdeck (my Twitter interface) only on the secondary monitor, and there only when I was doing “simple-minded” chores – checking email, monitoring website stats, reading news, etc.
When I’m doing work that requires any amount of concentration, Tweetdeck is off, or at least minimized and out of sight. The notification feature of Tweetdeck is also turned off, so I won’t be tempted to check ongoing updates.
With the above recommended steps and some self discipline, Twitter has become a welcome addition to the office – productivity tool, source of networking possibilities and a means to make new acquaintance.
If you’re not yet Tweeting, check out Twitter here.