I reluctantly jumped on the Twitter bandwagon about 3 weeks ago and while I am experiencing a little information overload, it has been fantastic. I was reluctant to start using Twitter because of the amount of information I am already consuming through Google Reader and on LinkedIn. Although I am already taking in a lot of information I was looking for a better format for discussing this information with other corporate training professionals. Turns out that Twitter is a great format for discussions and I am also finding other benefits that I was not expecting.
Twitter is known as being great for engaging in discussions but I am also finding it works as a great filter for the overwhelming amount of information I am taking in through Google Reader. I spend a lot of time skimming through blog posts in my Reader and only read the posts that catch my attention. I have noticed that with Twitter people in your network help reduce the amount of skimming needed by posting links to the great posts they have already found. Because of this I am spending less time skimming through my Google Reader and more time on Twitter looking at links passed on from people I am following. It will be interesting to see how my time spent reading blogs from my Reader is affected by finding all the juicy information without the skimming on Twitter.
While Twitter is helping me find great information easier, the downside is that there is a constant stream of information flowing down my Twitter page. To deal with this I am using Tony Karrer's "Skim Dive Skim" approach. When I first started with social media I felt the need to read every post and RSS feed as if they were all an important email. In my short experience I have learned that you really shouldn't try to read everything and you'll get more from the experience if you scan through and find what is important to you. While skimming can be a dangerous habit I am finding that I am able to find a lot more valuable information and waste less time reading information that is not important to me.
Now that I am sold on the benefit of Twitter I am working on creating a larger following so that I can get even more value from the experience. It is obvious that by having a larger number of followers, it is easier to engage in discussion and create a larger network. But, it is also as important to have a quality following of professionals with common interests and challenges. I'm starting to get annoyed with the spammers who follow me in hopes that I will automatically follow them back and I am only following people when there is a potential for us to engage in conversation and learn from each other.
I'm looking forward to seeing the value of Twitter increase as I connect with a larger network of people. If you're on Twitter, let's follow each other. If you're not on Twitter, jump on the bandwagon because you're missing out. You can find me on Twitter @joe_deegan