Social Media

Twitter: An Educational Tool

“Twitter is a great educational tool. If you want to learn more about marketing, start following some marketing professors. If you want to learn more about stay-at-home moms, start following them.” — Scott Townsend of United Linen & Uniform Services as quoted in “Twitterville” by Shel Israel (@shelisrael)

As I become more confident in communicating via social media, it’s important to remember that Twitter is so much more than a communication tool–it’s a learning tool as well. Throughout my Twitter existence, I have read, listened and researched all that I could to increase my knowledge on how to get the most out of it. But, am I practicing what I read?

One quote that sticks out in particular came from a fellow young professional (who is also a current student and while operating his own agency), Harrison Kratz of Kratz PR (@KratzPR), during one of his podcast episodes for the popular twitter group #PRStudChat (the podcast is PRStudCast). In the episode (I don’t remember which one), he mentioned that the most crucial aspect to utilizing twitter is listening. He shared that before you even begin to develop your own twitter voice, it’s important to build a base from which you listen and acquire information from. Twitter isn’t about talking, it’s about listening.

Am I listening?

Not as much as I would like to say I am, at least on Twitter. Since graduating, I have learned the importance of following blogs with RSS feeds and Gruml (an RSS reader Kratz recommended during another one of the PRStudCasts). For the most part, I check it everyday, trying to at least skim every post. However, sometimes even my RSS feed gets the best of me and I struggle to get the feed down to zero by the end of the each day.

And, in all honesty, using RSS feeds has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. If you haven’t subscribed to the RSS feeds for your favorite blogs and websites, I highly recommend that you do.

On Twitter, however, I’m realizing that as my follower count increases, the amount of effective listening I am able to do is decreasing. Why? For the most part, I haven’t been fully utilized the benefits of the list feature. Rather, I skim over the entire feed stoping for those that seem interesting. And, most likely, I missing a lot of crucial and valuable learning opportunities.

While attending a short social media seminar by Christine Grogan-Taylor (@ChrisGTaylor) and John Taylor (@JTwithJTMarCom) of JTMarCom (@JTMarCom) last week, Christine touched on the importance of using the list feature. She mentioned that she has a select group of people she must stay updated on for information.

Once created, you can use your Twitter application of choice–for the most part, I use the Twitter app for mac, but sometimes I will also use Tweetdeck for Chrome–to actively follow those in that list in a separate column than your main feed to easily pinpoint and read them.

Although I don’t consider myself in any means to be an expert in public relations and advertising, I commonly entertain the thought that perhaps, some day, I might become one. In order to do so, it’s important to remember that one-sided conversations isn’t communicating and that you must listen before you can talk.


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