Intro to Networked Collaboration

Why Twitter?

Lots of people don’t ‘get’ Twitter when they first try it, but like any social network, it doesn’t work until you are following lots of people aligned with your interests, and people are following you. And because it’s such a simple idea/interface, I think it’s nuances and advantages might be elusive, but I can give you some pretty strong reasons for using Twitter and why it’s not ‘useless’:

1. Spidering and interconnectivity between platforms
One big reason is that when you ‘tweet’, it spiders out to many different platforms. Twitter also allows for interconnecting between platforms. You can connect your ‘tweets’ so that they show up on your Facebook status, as sms messages to and from mobile phones, and within instant messaging like Google chat.

So, for example, I can tweet from my mobile phone, and it instantly goes to all these things: my Facebook status, on the Twitter website, my buddies’ IM windows (Google chat or AIM, depending on how they’ve set it up), and for those who’ve set up to receive on their mobile, to my buddies’ mobiles. That’s one action (me tweeting from my mobile) that goes to 4 different platforms. Now that’s efficient!

When something like this makes my life simpler by taking one effort and multiplying its effects, that’s cool

and speaking of multiplying effects…

2. Google loves Twitter
Meaning that if you want to move up in the Google search ranks, Twitter or microblogging in general, is a great way to do that.

Let’s say that you’d like to drive traffic to your band’s site (or your company site or a project site, etc). Then what you’d want to do is optimize search engine results – to move your site up in Google rankings and to have lots of hits associated with that so that naturally moves people toward your site. That’s called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. (That’s my rough definition of SEO – anyone else is welcome to try to clarify that).

Google loves new information, so when it gets fresh info from blogs and microblogging sites like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and things like that, those show up high in the search rankings.

A couple of links on Twitter & SEO:
Twitter, SEO, and Online Marketing: You’re Missing the Point
Twittering for SEO

Are you trying to create more online presence for yourself, your band or your company? Then you need to be on it.

3. Breaking news
I now get most of my breaking news from Twitter. Because it’s so immediate and mobile, it’s an ideal platform for distributing breaking news. Check out Here’s how reporters use Twitter for an idea of how journalists and news services are using Twitter.

4. Mobility
Like I said before, I love that I can tweet from my mobile. I just send a msg to 40404 and it instantly updates several platforms. I can also receive my friends’ tweets by mobile (and you can specify which ones). There are also a host of different Twitter clients that make it super-easy to update on the go, like Twittelator for iPhone or TwitterBerry for Blackberry.

5. Easy!
The ‘tweets’ are limited to 140 characters at a time, so it’s easily do-able. It’s almost like writing a haiku – short poetry that’s search-friendly. πŸ™‚
I’m not the kind of person that keeps a blog on a regular basis, but even I can do 140 characters once a day!

So I do my one or two tweets a day, from my mobile, or from a Twitter client, or the web, or whatever, and it keeps my friends ‘in touch’ but it also provides visibility for whatever I tweet about.

Some links to consider:

Student ‘Twitters’ his way out of Egyptian jail — a student covering anti-government protests in Egypt got arrested and was able to send a one-word tweet that got him help getting out of jail

Business TV: Peter Shankman explains Twitter in a paragraph – short n sweet explanation from PR & social media guru Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter. Note: Peter built his Help a Reporter community, which connects reporters with news sources, strictly from using Facebook and Twitter. Within 3 months of starting, he had about 20,000 members and it continues to grow exponentially.

Clive Thompson covers the idea of “ambient awareness” really well in his NY Times article Brave New World of Digital Intimacy

The question isn’t “Why use Twitter?” but rather, “How can I leverage Twitter to work for me?”

I think there are two things that you must do before making a quick-snap judgment about it being useless, so that you can make it work for you and see some advantages:

1. Find people to follow that are in your industry and scope of interests

Whatever you’re into, be it journalism or music or marketing or international development, etc…find the people on Twitter that are involved in and talk about those issues.
For example, if you’re into journalism, check out How journalists can master Twitter .
Go to and do a search on your topic of interest and see who’s talking about what and add them accordingly. For example, are you into international development? Try typing in “international development” and see what results you get. Try another one – you’ll be surprised at the amount of intellectual discussion that goes on via tweeting.

2. Listen and give feedback

Part of building community is also being community. If you want to tweet announcements about your band/company/project/etc, that’s fine, but if your tweets are ‘one-way’ and you only tweet to tell people about upcoming gigs, you’re really not having a conversation. People can usually smell marketing a mile away. Just be real. Tweet in the moment. Give feedback and reply when you feel moved to. It’s about building relationships. This is not just about Twitter, but about social media in general. If you want to have online presence, and you want people to talk about your project/idea/company/etc, then you have to be a good listener too.

Ok, so my challenge to you all is to find Twitterers that are involved in things that align with your interests. Share who you find with everyone in class by posting those Twitterers to our Twitter roll page. This will be part of next week’s assignment.

Happy tweeting!


October 16, 2008 - Posted by | tools and methodologies | , , ,


  1. Yeah, I used to rely heavily on Twitter for SEO, but now they rewrite all urls through tinyurl!!! Its saddening..

    Comment by godarse | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. thank you for this post.. it really helps me get a better understanding of twitter πŸ™‚


    Comment by isrellyrel | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. This is a great post and explains a lot. I am sure this could work for me at some point. But, my first inclination is that I need multiple follower/following networks. There are different kinds of messages I would send colleagues on different projects, vs friends in the tribe, or my mum and and dad and sisters. I would feel a lot more comfortable if I could switch at will between the different networks. It would be real useful to have this for colleagues as play by play at a conference or something, but I wouldn’t want to send that kind of thing to all the people on my follower list cause they are not all interested in the same things. Also, the lists could transform themselves as people move on or off a project for example. Also, re: the journalists, it seems funny to me since so much about news gathering is getting a scoop and being cagey about sourcing story stuff till the pub date. One thing I have noticed with all of this is the rules about trade secrecy or confidentiality seem more at risk of breaching inadvertently etc. People piece things together like one time some investment banker at LGA was loudly mad about a delay to his flight to some small town, announcing who he was at the gate desk, and he didn’t realize smart people could piece together what corporate he was flying off to see in such a hurry with his fresh presentation deck under his arm. This is the kind of thing that tips off short sellers, or some such to a trading opportunity. Same thing with talking loudly in train carriages or restaurants about clients and deals. This has bitten a few people I know in the past. Twittering too much to too many people could do the same.

    Comment by brettbarndt | October 19, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks for that. It really helps understand how Twitter can truly be leveraged and used.

    Comment by ayvak | October 20, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thanks for that. It really helps understand how Twitter can truly be leveraged and used.

    Comment by ayvak | October 20, 2008 | Reply

  6. It all makes sense to me what Josephine and Clive Thompson in his Wired article say about twitter – thanks!
    I’m getting excited when I discover some smart, inspiring ‘tweets’ and I want to work on making my tweets the ‘essential’ ‘thoughts of the day’, that are personal but at the same time interesting for a public …
    But I also agree to Brett, when I’m not sure:
    Do I really want to send personal stuff out to everybody? (as long as my followers/followings were class, I was like: let me try it out, could be fun).
    Now, the more I think about it, I wouldn’t mind having different twitter networks for different types of information: let’s say, the news twitter, the art twitter, the personal twitter, the … I guess I’m missing the point of twitter now πŸ˜‰
    Let me explore more!

    Comment by andrea | October 21, 2008 | Reply

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