What I’ve learned from Twitter

I recall having more than one “Bah-humbug” moment in 2008 when the subject of Twitter came up. I just could not see the point of telling the world when I was going to make another cup of coffee. Even worse, I really didn’t want to be interrupted by hundreds of people telling me what they ate for lunch.

I hadn’t made the mistake of dismissing it without even looking. I had signed in to do just that, but, having decided it wasn’t worth doing, had not uttered a single Tweet. And that was how I intended to stay. But towards the end of 2008 I got an email telling me that Christopher Penn was “following” me. (To the uninitiated this could sound as if I was being stalked, but in Twitter terminology this is a good thing – it means someone wants to hear what you have to say).

This was intriguing. Why would someone follow me when I hadn’t said a word. So I logged back in to have another look. And I downloaded Christopher Penn’s ebook on Twitter for business. Having dipped the tip of my toe in the Twittersphere, I decided it wouldn’t do any harm to explore a bit more and within an hour or so of playing in Twitter, I discovered its benefits.  There are loads of lists online which tell you why Twitter is a great business tool – I read one just this evening on John Jantsch’s blog.

Now, 2 months into my Twitter dialogues I’ve learned two great lessons which I didn’t anticipate. Firstly, Twitter has helped break down barriers to spontaneous writing. It used to take me ages to think through what I was going to write. I was amongst the many thousands who second guesses their prose and ends up deleting and changing more than they write. Twitter gets you into the habit of diving in and sharing your thoughts. I’ve found my writing time has become far more productive.

And then I found TweetStats. This is a site which tells you all sorts of interesting (if trivial) things about the time of day, day of the week, and people you have Tweeted most often. And it has a neat little tab that gives you a cloud tag or Wordle of your Tweets.  There’s something about seeing your stream of thoughts translated into a cluster of words that gives a very clear idea of your frame of mind. Wow! I had no idea that’s what I sound like. The good news is that its quite a positive picture. It will be interesting to see what else I can learn about myself through Twitter.


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