Meme15 – Why Twitter (For the Average Joe)

Since I’m one who likes challenges, and I’m a bit of a Geek at heart, I jumped on the chance to take part in this month’s Meme 15 challenge. The topic put out by Jason Strate (@StrateSQL) and the group of bloggers he is a part of, has to do with Twitter. Specifically, he asks us:

Why should average Jane or Joe professional consider using twitter?

What benefit have you seen in your career because of twitter?

Why?
Why is easy! I wrote a post a while back on why twitter is so useful for SQL People. The average person can find it useful as a networking tool.

People can find a hashtag that applies to a topic they are interested in, follow it, and start making connections. It’s a quick and easy way to ask questions to other people with similar interests, answer other people’s questions, share experiences, etc. Examples of hashtags I have found useful (non-SQL related) include: #DisneyDream (when we were planning our Disney cruise), and #the3day (in regards to the Susan G Komen 3 Day for the Cure). I have both become a cheerleader and been cheered for by other 3 Day walkers. I even got a donation or two from people I’ve talked to on twitter, but never met (not to mention all the donations I got from SQL People that I also hadn’t met other than on twitter).

Even if you don’t have a smartphone, you can still send out tweets via text message, and get responses texted to you just as easily. You can also set up your account to have tweets from certain people texted to you, and/or tweets from a hashtag you are following. Be careful with that one, though. If you are at an event with a lot of people using the hashtag, your phone may not stop going off. On the other hand, if you are at an event such as The 3 Day, setting it up to receive those tweets can be great motivation! There are many tools connected to twitter that make it really easy to personalize it just how you want to use it.

Since twitter tends to be a “stream of consciousness” form of social media, it can be a quick and easy way to catch up with what people are doing, and/or thinking. It can also be a good form of entertainment. You can follow most anyone who has a twitter handle. While some accounts are private, most are open for anyone to see what they tweet. There are some really funny people on twitter. Following them and their “conversations” with other people can be entertaining!

Twitter can also be a great way to market yourself. When you tweet, people “see” you. They see your picture/avatar of your choosing, they see what you stand for. This also means you may want to be careful on some level what you are tweeting. Potential employers may be reading what you write.

If you have a blog, home-based business, or some cause you want to make people aware of, using twitter can really help spread the word. Here’s an example: I am part of a #gethawt blog party. I put a link to the initial blog post out on twitter. Some people read it. Some people re-tweeted it. That got more views on my blog. People joined the initiative, and included their friends in their posts. The “rules” stated to link back to the original post in order to be included in the round-up at the end of the week. That did two things – it brought more people to our blog party, and, in turn, to my blog page; it also got their names out, bringing more views to their pages. If it weren’t for twitter, it would have been much more difficult to spread the word.

Benefits
I don’t think I can say twitter has directly benefited my career. I did however tweet out a blog post about Continuing Education options for teachers. As a result, the Professional Learning Board was kind enough to offer me a free class as a thank you for linking back to them. I’m not sure if they found that post through twitter or not, but nonetheless, it happened.

I have only dabbled some in exploring twitter for teaching/parenting connections. I do follow Maryln Appelbaum (@marylnappelbaum), the Professional Learning Board (@TeacheResource), and Living on a Teacher’s Salary (@TheTeachersWife). They often tweet out pieces of useful information for teachers.

Twitter has mainly been a tool I used for social purposes. I’ve “met” many of my husband’s friends via twitter. It’s been great, in that when I travel with him, I have connections all over the country. It’s awesome to meet someone in person, and feel like you already know them on some level. The SQL Community that he is a part of has welcomed me into their #sqlfamily, even though I am not a technical person. I largely have twitter to thank for that. This wonderful group of people I have gotten to know have not only provided some great friendships, I have learned a lot from them as well. People like Buck Woody (@BuckWoody) and Karen Lopez (@datachick) have tweeted out links to articles or sites that I have found useful. I have used some of these sites in my teaching, and others have been great for personal use.

I could go on and on about how great twitter has been for me, and how useful it can be for other people. Since I already feel like it sounds as if I’m rambling, I’m just going to stop here. If you are on the edge of whether or not to try twitter, I say go for it. If you don’t like it, just quit using it. Most people find they like it more than they thought they would.

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