When people think of Twitter, many associate it as a place to post just about every meaningless thing you are doing, as well as reading the latest gossip straight from your favorite celebrities, but Twitter can be something completely different – a productivity tool. In this small article, I will try to explain how you can use Twitter to gain insight into the world’s trends and the minds of great leaders as well as to use it as a source for managing your most important data consumption.
Twitter as a Knowledge Exchange Tool
Your Twitter account can be your window to the rest of the world on what you find interesting and valuable to share. Your “tweet” becomes a vote towards a stream of information flowing through all of the web users, where your tweet becomes an influence in that stream. In other words, the more tweets there are about a specific subject, the more likely that it will reach a broader audience. Twitter can also be very narrow and specific. You can use it to follow professionals concerned with particular interests. These professionals will likely share valuable information on those topics as soon as they discover them.
When was the last time you spoke to a Nobel laureate, world leader, or a successful business man? With Twitter, you can “follow” these people and gain the knowledge of the valuable pieces of information they share. Sometimes, it will be small thoughts, and other times they will direct you to a wealth of knowledge sources. You can comment back to them on what they have shared by using the format “@username” and this will reach their account.
So how can you incorporate yourself into this knowledge stream aside from commenting? First, integrate your current information consumption applications with your Twitter account. Many applications and web services allow you to integrate your Twitter account so that you can share content with a single mouse click. When you are reading an article or when you stumble into something of value then you can just click on the Twitter share button and the content will be shared. This form of sharing is an automated way that consumes about 1% of one second of your time each time you share content. Other people will be able to see what you have shared and comment back to you. And this is only a very simple way of sharing knowledge, Twitter is highly flexible in allowing how you decide to share information.
Twitter as your Information Consumption Tool
Once you are comfortable with Twitter, you could switch to the service as an information consumption tool. If you are familiar with RSS and RSS Readers, you will understand this part (if not, look for an article to learn about RSS first). Many of us use RSS Readers for information consumption. However, Twitter offers a more “submersive” way. First, you can identify the places which you have RSS subscriptions for. Many of them will also have Twitter accounts. For those that don’t, there is a very usefull service called TwitterFeed. That free service creates an instruction that sends the RSS feed postings as tweets to your account. You can have more than one Twitter account if you want to segregate the topics.
Once you have integrated all of the information streams so that they all run through Twitter, you have created a highly efficient consumption tool. With Twitter, you can even specify accounts that are of so much importance to you, that you get an SMS in your cellphone with the “tweet”. This is very valuable for people that need to be notified of information changes instantly, like for example when a site goes down or has been penetrated by a spammer, or when a stock goes down or up to a particular price level. Any information change can be programmed so that you are sent an SMS immediately.
These examples serve as a general introduction to the practicalities of Twitter and are aimed at people who care about time and efficiency. As you can see, Twitter can serve as a gateway of valuable and timely information that you can consume and share. You have access to influential leaders and what they are working on. You can reach the content, or the content can reach you through instant notifications to your mobile. You can reach millions of people and millions of people can reach you.