Five Ways Twitter Will Make You Smarter

*UPDATE: Please click here to read this post on my new blog and ensure your comments are included in the right place. I no longer check/update this WordPress.com blog.

We’re all looking for ways to become better professionals. From conferences and webinars to books and seminars, we spend good money and give precious time to glean insights from accomplished marketers. Those are great, of course, but what if I told you that you can get smarter for free with Twitter and 20 minutes or so a day.

(If you have a decent idea of what Twitter is already, go ahead and skip to the first way twitter can make you smarter.)

Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that allows you to share what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. You can follow friends, coworkers and people you’ve never met before who may share similar interests. And, they can follow you and your updates.

Here are five ways Twitter will make you better at whatever it is you do.

1. You get access to different points of views.

First, the value of your Twitter experience will depend largely on the people you follow. If you only follow people whose updates are always about where they’re eating lunch or the weird guy in line in front of them at McDonald’s, then you’re not going to get much out of it.

On the other hand, you can find and follow folks who sometimes “tweet” personal updates, but also share great thoughts on their industry or ask probing questions. I follow a lot of people in the marketing and social media business.

2.  The people you follow point you to great resources you wouldn’t find otherwise.

You can only scan/read so many blogs. So what about all the great content out there you’re not finding, reading and retaining to get smarter?

Most of the people I follow “tweet” about great blog posts, white papers and books they find, along with a url to the site. I choose about five a day to click and read. So, every day, I’m pointed to great content I wouldn’t have found otherwise that’s been pre-screened by other smart marketing folks.

3. You can poll your followers.

Wondering what others in your field think about (insert topic here)? You can ask your followers and get responses directed back to you. I did this last week about an hour before going into a meeting to get others’ takes on a topic. (As you may imagine, the more followers you have, the more responses you get.)

4. You can learn what consumers are saying about your company or your client’s brand.

Want to get an idea of what others say about your company or your client’s brand when they’re among friends? Well, you can find out if either is being talked about on Twitter.

Check out Twitter Search. It’s like Google Search, but it only searches for your key words on Twitter’s network. If someone trashed your client’s new promotion on Twitter last week, you’ll see it. If someone raved about the new product yesterday in a “tweet,” you’ll see it. It provides some great insights into how others view your brand.

By the way, you don’t need a Twitter account to run a Twitter Search and see results. Whether you’re on Twitter or not, you should use it periodically to see what’s being said about your company or your client.

5. Twitter will make you a better writer.

T.S. Eliot once said “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Writing succinctly is hard. Writing succinctly and clearly is even harder. Sharing your point of view and great blog posts you come across in 140 characters or less is a wonderful exercise in both.

As with all things, it’s better to give than to receive. Once you join Twitter, you’ll make others smarter by sharing your thoughts and great reads while building new professional relationships.

If you use Twitter, what have I left out? How has it made you smarter? If you don’t, give it a test drive. Follow me and I’ll follow you back. And we’ll get smarter together.

*Image from Twitter.com

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18 responses to “Five Ways Twitter Will Make You Smarter

  1. Fantastic post – it’s nice to read things by people that have actually thought of how Twitter can be useful – it’s not just for posting videos of people falling over 🙂

    Nikki
    http://www.businessontwitter.co.uk/twitter

  2. Nikki

    Thanks. I got the idea to share this the other day while talking to some other marketing types about Twitter. I’ve found that most dismiss it and the reason they give is “who cares where I’m eating lunch.” Whenever I share ideas like those in this post, they almost always say, “oh, that’s a great idea.”

    Thanks again!

  3. Pingback: 50 ways to use social media and more — MarkTzk.com

  4. 140 characters or less, now that’s a daily training lesson.

    Following the “right” people is sooooo important. Sometimes find myself dragged into conversations that actually I have no business being part of.

    Thanks Dave

  5. Pingback: yet another iPhone post « Urbin Technology

  6. Hi David, I never knew about Twitter Search but it’s amusing how the results for a specific phrase are different than at TweetScan.

    P.S. I’m @ariherzog

  7. @ariherzog – Twitter Search was actually called Summize when I posted this early Monday morning. By 10 a.m., word was out that Twitter bought Summize, so I went back in and changed the name. Had you heard of Summize.

    Funny how it and tweetscan return different results. Glad you pointed that out. Maybe we should be searching on each to make sure we’re uncovering all mentions of brands, our profiles, etc. Thanks!

    Thanks for taking time to comment. Look forward to following you on twitter.

  8. Really? I had no idea how useful Twitter can be…but as you said, I guess it all depends who you follow. I haven’t used it yet, but maybe I’ll give it a try – thanks for letting me know what to do with it. I’ll let you know if it’s made me smarter… 🙂

  9. Great post! I have found Twitter to be the most useful social media tool so far for both business and personal outreach. If companies are “smart,” they will embrace Twitter and start using it their advantage asap.

  10. Dave – Thanks for guiding me here per today’s SolutionsStars Video Conference; Twitter has been a boon for increased visibility, community, feedback, more. Great post.

    @jillfoster

  11. So True!! Twitter is unique in its ability to provide personal and business insights and information across a broad landscape. The 140 teaches concise communication through better word management. Thanks.

  12. I disagree with #5. I think that the person had to be a fairly decent writer prior to using Twitter. For some, Twitter has become a way to increase the use of slang and code and many tweets are difficult to read. #2 is so true, especially for photographers! I have accessed so many resources that I know I would not have found otherwise. Twitter is wonderful in that way.

  13. The problem with tip #1 is that people tend to misunderstand — when there are only 140 characters limit, they will say what they feel the most, which leave every other opinion behind. Of course, some people do multiple tweets, but somehow, it is too limited.

    If they do want to express their views, they should try blogging as an alternative because there’s no limit to write if you own a blog.

  14. Sorry, I forgot to add this:

    When I said, “…which leave every other opinion behind.”, what I really mean is that even though Mr. Dude feels that certain action by certain party is wrong, he still support *some* objectives behind the action.

    Huh. This is problem when you type too fast, without really thinking deeply into it.

  15. In my journey through twitter, it’s been fascinating to see the more novel uses for it. And it’s so true, it all depends on who you follow as to your overall personal experience – definite a case of, to quote Robert Frost: ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both, And be one traveler”
    Thank you for your post.

    @vene2ia

  16. Just wanted to let you know that the T.S. Eliot quote was pre-dated by a significant amount of time by Blaise Pascal’s ‘If I had more time I would write a shorter letter. ‘ (which is more probably the source. Another of those instances of how the web can make you dumber… :-))

    I enjoyed the article & have found it quite true, btw…

    with love, Brian

  17. Great post! If only people would learn to write me emails in 140 characters or less.

    It’s about time Twitter scooped up Summize!

  18. So true. The trick is to gradually filter who you Follow so that you get more signal, less noise. Then you really start to see the value of Twitter. Before that it’s just a random firehose.

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