Twitter: can't see the wood for the trees?

by Ken McEwen, Ken McEwen Public Relations

There are three objections I regularly receive whenever I suggest using Twitter. Before I can get to explaining how I find it valuable for communication, or for just keeping more informed about what’s going on, someone will usually come up with one of these three objections.

The first one, delivered with a pained expression, is that Twitter is only for kids who use it as a channel for their teenage angst.

Well, the facts say otherwise. The average age of a Twitter user is over 35.

The second one is that “I have no interest in who has had a coffee*, or who is about to have a coffee” (*or any other trivial happening).

It’s undeniable that there is a lot of less-than-meaningful babble on Twitter. But, there is a simple answer: don’t follow people who babble and you need never see another coffee stop on your Twitter feed!

The third objection is about the impenetrable avalanche of tweets that comes in on your home feed, once you follow a reasonable number of people.

can't see the wood for the trees

The protocols of Twitter suggest that it is courteous to follow people who follow you. Even taking that with a pinch of salt, it soon becomes very difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Again there is a relatively simple answer.

Set up some lists categorising the people you follow into areas of particular interest.

For example, I have lists for news outlets, journalists, PR companies, politics, business, motoring and so on.

When I come to scan Twitter, I don’t normally look at my home feed. I go and look at these lists. By scanning the news list, I can get an update on the news – including breaking news as it is reported. By scanning the journalist’s list I can see what is taking their interest and see if there are any areas that I can suggest input on behalf of my clients.

Get a Twitter app on your computer, phone or tablet, that allows you to read the tweets by list. I use Hootsuite, but there are plenty of options.

By setting up these lists and scanning them (not your home feed), you will hopefully find that Twitter forest is no longer impenetrable.
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