LinkedIn asked me to write a post about my most important, must-have business tool for its “Things I Carry” series. I wrote about Twitter, which I am probably unhealthily addicted to. This stuff might seem obvious to the regular SplatF reader, but I’m surprised how often I have to explain Twitter’s benefits to people who still think it’s a useless toy. I’ve republished my post below. Btw, you can follow me on LinkedIn here and/or Twitter here.
You can have my iPad and keep my phone. But don’t dare take my Twitter.
Since I joined the site more than 5 years ago, nothing has had a more dramatic effect on the way I work. Beyond the obvious basics like email and the web, Twitter has become the single most-important service I use every day. Seriously.
It’s the best way to stay on top of what’s going on in the world. Tweets are concise and immediate. Almost everyone worth listening to is broadcasting on Twitter now, including news organizations, CEOs, college friends, and Jose Canseco. Following the right mix of Twitter accounts provides not only facts, but context and commentary. And it’s faster and more efficient than any other medium. How this helped me: When the US Airways plane crash-landed in the Hudson, a quick Twitter search helped me become the first journalist to publish Janis Krums’ famous eyewitness photo.
It’s a great way to grow your professional reputation and following. This is, perhaps, more relevant to me — a journalist and startup founder — than to any random person. But sharing my work — and the rest of my life — on Twitter has helped build my audience and reputation more than any other tool I’ve used. (Although, as you can see, LinkedIn is now trying to capture some of that power, too!) Important note: Don’t be boring. If I only tweeted my work, I’d consider myself a nuisance.
It’s an excellent way to get help. Twitter has become a large-enough collective stream of consciousness that few things have gone un-tweeted. Have a question about your new iPhone or an app? Maybe someone has tweeted the same thing, and received a solid answer. Want real-time reviews of that new restaurant? Search Twitter! When I recently launched a new version of my company’s New York city guide app, I asked my Twitter audience for feedback. The suggestions I’ve received — privately, mostly — have been excellent. And free!
It’s entertaining. Sure, it’s informative. But with the right mix, it can also be very fun, funny, and engaging. Whether it’s gags during a big live-TV event like the presidential election, or something industry-specific, like an Apple keynote, commentary on Twitter is generally as good as it gets. I haven’t had a boring trip to the restroom in years, thanks to Twitter. (When you follow 2,000+ accounts around the world, as I do, there’s rarely a time you can’t refresh and get new tweets.)
Like many of you, I laughed at Twitter the first time I saw it. But that has now become one of my few professional regrets: Not taking it more seriously sooner.
To be fair, Twitter did take a while to get good — and it’s understandable why people may have once been skeptical about it. But it has now become something I wouldn’t want to live and work without — an essential part of my professional toolkit. (Join me!)