Four Steps In Using Twitter for Research

Following certain steps when using twitter can yield high quality uptodate information on topics relevant to you.  Following on from my How To Use Twitter for Research Video, these are some of the steps I take.

Step 1 Find The Right People To Add To Your Network

  • The most useful people to add are those who post links and information regularly on topics that interest you
  • Take the top 5-10 people you find the most useful of the people you follow and look at the profiles of the people they follow and add them to your network
  • Look at the profile of each of your new followers and decide if you want to add them to your network by following them back
  • Don’t feel obliged to follow everyone who follows you – you’ll end up with a twitter stream that is full of twitter noise and not of much use to you
  • When you get to the point you can no longer keep up with the twitter conversations go through your list of people you follow and decide if they are still relevant to your twitter info stream.  If not unfollow

A note on Unfollowing: When using twitter in this way unfollowing or following should not be taken as a personal slight (and the same goes if you are unfollowed) – your followers may be grateful for a warning if you let them know you’ll be posting on a particular topic that may not be relevant to them (eg conference proceedings) and let them know when to follow you back should they want to.  Comment by Teresa Blaes on my last post:

‘I find it interesting that you only return follow some people, while other people in the social media space like to return the twitter love. I guess, that it is as you said, it all depends on what you want to use twitter for.’

  • MrTweet, or a TwitterSearch can help you find people although the results can often be too general

Step 2 Managing Your Twitter Conversations

  • Applications like TweetDeck help manage and organize various twitter streams (for example I have several twitter groups I follow: Professional; twitter users who live close to me; and friends.  (Linking to twitter users who live close to you can open up new avenues of conversations and physical meet ups which in themselves can be very rich in the information they provide.)

Step 3 Finding Information

  • Consistency and regular use is important in getting the most out of your twitter stream
  • Depending on the number of people you follow, log onto twitter and open every link your twitter network has posted.
  • To do this efficiently hold the control key and then click on the link – this opens a new window for each link while keeping your original twitter window open.
  • You can then decide whether to look at the link then and there or click on all the links first and then look at them window by window (which I find is a more efficient use of time)
  • A very quick scan of the website will tell you if what has been posted is useful or not.
  • If the link is to a blog or website that will be useful add the RSS feed

    to your GoogleReader or Feedly or email subscription and you have added a regular new source of information to your news feed.

  • Add twittersearch to your google search box – see what people have said about a particular product or situation around the globe – it’s powerful feedback

Step 4 Sharing information

  • Sharing information lets people know what you are interested in and adds to your followers information stream
  • Posting links on Twitter, applications like TinyURL shorten the links (TweetDeck will also do this automatically for you)
  • Microblogging: increasingly twitter can also be used to post links which can then be collated together into a blog post
  • Posting good information on Twitter will also mean people of similar interests find you which results in an informative Twitter network of people that you may not have yourself thought to seek out
  • Use key words when you post your link.  Simply posting: ‘This is good‘ doesn’t tell your readers not very much: but ‘Video on how to use Twitter for Research‘ will not only let your readers know what the link is about but enable others who are searching Twitter to find you.  For example, mentioning the word Sydney in my posts has meant a lot of Sydney twitter users have linked to me which has been useful for me
  • InstaHelp:  there has been many an occasion I have asked a question and had top rate answers and links back – far more quickly and specifically than a Google search
  • Having Fun: as with most things, if you’re enjoying connecting with people and sharing information, the chances are you’ll get a lot of rewarding conversations with Tweeples as a result.