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If you’re not using Twitter as a learning tool you’re doing it wrong

I had some interesting conversations with some friends of mine yesterday. Most of them were short and sweet. Some where really just a collection of musings. But a few actually gave me some ideas that I plan on implementing to help maximize my marketing career.

And the best part that all of this happened within the span of a minute or two via my Twitter stream.

These types of valuable, ROI-laden exchanges happen fairly frequently for me, which helps justify the 5-10 minutes per day that spend interacting with Twitter.com. However, valuable interactions are really just the tip of the iceberg. The real value, for me, is two-fold:

  1. The ability to get connected, introduced, or simply be made aware of fellow online marketers and business professionals that are experts in their particular fields, so that I can build my own personal business network
  2. The ability to follow these experts and create a collective stream of hyper-curated content links that I can read and digest in order to make sure that I’m ahead of curve in terms of trends, insights, analysis, and overall digital marketing strategy

The common thread that ties all three of the aforementioned Twitter perks is education. I learn by interacting with friends and colleagues. I learn about bright minds in the industry that I may have never become aware of otherwise. I learn about cutting edge marketing insights by reading the wonderful links that are introduced to me via my carefully curated Twitter stream.

Which brings me back to the conversation I was having with my friends this morning. What was it about? Curating your Twitter feed to minimize noise and maximize value!

John Doherty offered up the most insightful tip, pointing out that if you eliminate super chatty folks from your stream (e.g. people that Tweet incessantly day and night) you can cut down on noise significantly (he claimed that cutting out just one chatty tweeter cut his noise down by about 80%) but several other smart marketers also offered up interesting insights and affirmation.

One of the things several of us wondered about was how some Twitter users can stand to have thousands of folks in their stream. The noise would seem to be unbearable. My theory is that for many of these people, Twitter is really more about broadcasting (e.g. reaching as many individuals as possible). Therefore, they’re not really using their stream to learn. Instead, they’re willing to barter a follow for a follow back in an effort to grow that supposedly all-important follower count.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone approaching Twitter in that manner is missing out on the real ROI that this particular social media network can provide.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://twitter.com/content_muse Anthony Pensabene

    I actually saw your tweet, Hugo, and admittedly, it inspired me to cut down my number of follows. It does make a difference, if you use it the way I do. I DO use twitter for many of the reasons you mention in the post. It’s an incredible tool for relationship building, indirectly learning about peers interests (professional and personal), and keeping pace with that ever-moving curve.

    I took great interest in AJ’s post recent post on Twitter cards because he mentioned the larger, visual feed interface may inspire some to do a spring cleaning of their follows as well. I celebrate the cards from a marketer’s perspective, but not from a learning perspective. As I mentioned in AJ’s comments, I much prefer the compact nature of the stream at present (get a lot more learning out of it that way I think).

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing those thoughts, Anthony, and I’m glad you got value out of those tweets! Yeah, I’m sort of a meat and potatoes kind of guy when it comes to my twitter stream. I don’t use any third-party browsers, apps, visualizations, etc. Just good old twitter.com. I will say that I use manageflitter.com to find out what folks that I follow don’t follow me back. That can come in handy at times.

  • http://www.paligap.com/ Iain Bartholomew

    I try to use lists to cut down on noise. I have four groups of people that I follow – SEO people, New York Jets people, people who I discuss politics with me and miscellaneous other people.

    I often worry that when I’m talking to one group I’m pissing off the other three, but I don’t see that there’s much I can do about that really.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing that approach, Iain! I don’t use lists but can see how it can come in handy when used in that manner. That said, I agree with you that there’s no way to segment tweets, which is one of the areas where Google+ has a leg up on Twitter.

      • http://twitter.com/TheNextCorner Dennis Goedegebuure

        I also curate the streams with lists or groups of people I follow. The firehose stream sits out of sight in my Tweetdeck, so if I feel like it, I can tap into that.
        I do follow the different streams, but because these are organized on topic, I know exactly what to expect there and how to interact.

        • hugoguzman

          Thanks for swinging by to chime in, Dennis! I used to be a big Tweetdeck fan and definitely had a similar setup but at some point in time I just decided that if someone wasn’t worthy of being in my list/group they weren’t worth being followed.

          That said, I can definitely appreciate your approach because I know that it also works well, especially if you’re trying to build a following across multiple subject areas.

  • http://twitter.com/madeale Alessio Madeyski

    I agree on this. Sometimes I’m tweeting too much, because there are people like John Doherty who followed me in the past, and now no more. This is a huge blow, but I’m going to survive, thanks for asking.

    I can admit that 50% of the thing I know about SEO I learnt on twitter. I like to TALK with people, to engage, to have fun. That’s why I don’t follow people who talk ONLY about SEO for example, because I’m even interested in the human being beyond their profession.

    Twitter is an awesome tool to learn, and I always say to my team to use it. I hope it will stay this way, so it will not be contaminated even in the future.

    Cheers (one of your followers)

    • Anonymous

      I’m right there with you, Alessio, and good news: John has probably re-followed you already (per his recent tweet)!

  • http://www.poser2pro.com/ Donny Eisenbach

    This reminds me…I need to unfollow basically everyone in my twitter account and start curating…I have way to many irrelevant people I am following not to mention chattiness going on.

    • hugoguzman

      Do what you gotta do, Donny! I’m sure it will pay big dividends in the long term. Thanks for stopping by to chime in!

  • http://twitter.com/Zen2Seo Giuseppe Pastore

    I do agree you can’t *really* follow 2000 profiles. At the moment I follow about 400 and I’m thinking I need to unfollow some of them. I tend to follow people who can share interesting SEO post or thoughts, but Twitter is a social network too and I like interacting with “friends” and talk of other subjects; when you’re not a “friend” I like to engage with, and you don’t share anything I judge interesting (and instead you share only your – unuseful and self promoting – stuff) there’s no reason to continue following.
    If you follow too much people, I guess you don’t even read one of their tweet…

    • hugoguzman

      Right on, Giuseppe! I also find that some folks really just retweet other people’s stuff, so if I’m already following those “other people” there’s really no need to follow the serial retweeter, especially if they don’t engage with me in any way.

      • http://twitter.com/Zen2Seo Giuseppe Pastore

        Well, I think retweeting is not so bad since I’m in Italy and 6-9 hrs difference make me miss what’s going on in USA while I’m sleeping; also, I’m not on Twitter 24/7 so having more than one chance to see a good link can help. The problem to me is when you only tweet your blog posts twice per hour and don’t interact with the rest of world. I don’t pretend people following me, retweeting or commenting my links, or even citing me in a tweet, but just giving me a good reason to follow.
        With less than 300 followers I could be tempted to start mass following to have some follow back, but I prefer having few followers and few noise in my stream. Maybe followers will come if I do well, maybe not. But I don’t care ;)

        • hugoguzman

          Oh don’t get me wrong. I’m good with RTs. It’s just that some folks seem to only RT and they RT the same people over and over again. I have no use for those folks. P.S. I totally agree with your take as well!

          • http://twitter.com/Zen2Seo Giuseppe Pastore

            Oh well, I know those folks, they’re also quite brilliant in adding comments to their retweets (“nice post”, “good stuff” and “check it out” are real pearls of wisdom) ;)

          • Nigel Adams

            Good points gentlemen, I am guilty, but like Hugo, not having much time, I find it helpful to RT to my @Buckingham_BBE students good Tweets that link to useful blogs or articles.

            I do agree 100% with you Hugo about the excellent learning opportunities through Twitter. I have many examples of learning about new ideas or techniques through Twitter.

            I am also using Twitter to successfuly “spread the word” to encourage young people in UK to complete an on-line survey for an @EEUK research project.

            To help filter tweets and other social media feeds I receive, I also use the app http://www.my6sense.com

            @nigeladams

          • hugoguzman

            Thanks for the feedback on your approach, Nigel! Much appreciated.

  • http://seono.co.uk/ Steve

    Would it be possible to Storify the tweets? It would be cool to read all of them, especially as they’re the muse for this post – must’ve been some good advice in them!

    • hugoguzman

      Hi Steve! That’s a good idea, but frankly, I just can’t justify the time it would take for me to build that out.

      I’m all about opportunity cost.

      That said, feel free to take a stab at it if you’re so inclined!

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  • http://www.boastingbiz.com/ Boasting BiZ

    Twitter is a great tool to use as an educational vehicle. You can learn so much about many people and their industry. We use Twitter more as an Networking tool in order to develop lasting relationships that will help us expand in the Internet Marketing business. You have a great outlook on how to use Twitter and will have great success in internet marketing career.

    @Hugoguzman – Great blog article!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Twitter should be used as a listening tool as much as it is used as a broadcasting tool. If you only sign in to Twitter, post your content, and then sign out you aren’t using it to its full advantage. Spend some time actually listening and engaging. After all, that’s what social media should be about.