The Twitter We Know

It seems these days the only time we hear of Twitter is when our President-Elect lets out a tweet storm at 5am and sets off a media frenzy by 7am.  This is the Twitter we know, the Twitter we are exposed to: Chris Brown challenging Soulja Boy to a boxing match, Kayne West having yet another public mental break down, all drama, jokes and celebrity tweet-matches.  Yes, there are nights where I check- in, throw some popcorn in the microwave and watch Taco Bell fight with Old Spice.

Yes, Twitter is all that – but it’s also so much more.

Reconsider How You Want to Use Twitter

A few months ago, I decided to take a fresh approach to Twitter.  I began to focus on using it not just for personal hobbies, likes and interests, but to put some focus on it.  I wanted to use it as a tool for professional growth.  Up until then, my Twitter was useless.  It was a mash-up of bike news, futebol scores, random celebrity recipes, and whatever other random hobbies I am into (and there are a lot).   I never visited it, didn’t feel the need to, nor the need to tweet.

This changed the past year as I dived deep into learning a new programming language and new software.  Though I had access to books and online tutorials, it seemed every time I started to swim through all these new materials, I’d get right to the edge of the deep end and no further.  I just couldn’t dive off the diving board and sink right in.  I couldn’t get past my comfort zone.  I needed help.

Instead of following hobbies (and Taco Bell, Old Spice…), I made a resolution to seek out users related to skills I wanted to acquire.  New skills.

Make It Worth Visiting

The major problem with Twitter was I never visited.  I didn’t need Taco Bell news that badly.  I had to find a way to make Twitter something I wanted to take a daily glance at.  This was my approach:

  1. I took a look at who I was following.  If they hadn’t tweeted anything in awhile, if they only tweeted random lunch pictures – they got deleted.  I did some house cleaning.
  2. Added some basics.  For example, I added local/national news and then with time, narrowed it down to specific reporters and channels I like.  I did the same for various other websites I regularly visit. I stopped website hopping and I started checking Twitter.
  3. I took inventory of brands I use for work and what products I use:  Visual Studio, Adobe, DropBox, Office365, GitHub, etc. and I searched for their Twitter profile and followed.
  4. Then, I made note of specific writers (from tutorials, articles, anything I was learning from) – clicked their website, searched for a Twitter and…. follow.  This continued on as I went to conferences.  If I enjoyed their presentation, if I wanted to learn more about what they do:  follow.  Did this cool new website have photos I used on our site?  Follow.
  5. For each new person I followed, I did a quick scan of their tweets.  Did they retweet anyone I found interesting?  Who are they following?  Click, open, and follow.

Beginning Your Own Tweets

Once I put some focus on my feed and made it news specific to me – tweeting became easy.  I began to want to visit everyday and when that someone cool on my twitter feed had a great article? Retweet it.  Great info graphic?  Retweet it.

The same went for my own tweets (they can’t all be retweets).  Instead of “bookmarking” a tutorial or quick fix, I would tweet it.   The moment I think: “I’ll read that later”, I tweet it.  Soon, I had a few people retweet my own contributions, and their retweets and my retweets meant I got new followers.

Plus, tweeting got even easier as I set up some tools to tweet right from my browser and phone.  Now, I’d don’t have to GO TO Twitter to tweet, I do so right from whatever I am reading (ask me and I can help refer you to some tools).

A Social Network for Professional Growth

Soon, I had a large list of websites I learn from, teachers, other students, professional colleagues – a social network that I could rely on for professional news.  A network I could rely on for new tools, new inspiration and.. new motivation.

The great part?  Interaction!   Recently, I found a new tool that’s helping me code faster, cleaner programs.  I professed my love on Twitter:

Almost immediately, I got a response from the CodeRush team:

Twitter Love

In the end, yes, my Twitter account still has a lot of personal tweets – it’s another part of making it something I want to visit – but, now its’ purpose goes far beyond that.  Finally, I’ve learned to re-purpose a corner of social media for something other than a photo of what I ate for lunch today.