3 Easy Steps to Using Twitter as a Tech Tool

By Donna Moyer


Editor's Note: My informal surveys indicate that many of you are not using social networks. Comments like "Who needs one more interface or source to check?" or " I spend enough time on-line. I don't need more to do!" echoed my own sentiments about sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, since I started to use Twitter last year to send BrainShare updates to those of you who could not attend, I have found it to be a great tool for keeping up on all things Novell. A side benefit is that it helps me stay in touch with areas I am interested in outside of work. Read on to find out how to set up Twitter to keep abreast of technical (and other fun) topics.

  1. Set up your Twitter account: Simply go to www.twitter.com and click on the Sign Up button. Enter your full name, pick a username and password, and choose an email account for updates from Twitter. You will be notified when someone begins following you and if someone sends you a direct message. Other than that, I don't receive any other emails, so don't worry about being "spammed." Since I use my Twitter account for my business, I have my work email associated with it. You can follow me at donnaATuptimeto see what I am doing with Twitter.
  2. Find people to follow: Like any data resource, the quality of information you get depends on what sources you are using. Twitter is no different. If you start following someone who just tweets about what they had for lunch, simply unfollow them. You can find people who are tweeting about topics you are interested in by going to www.twellow.com (The Twitter Yellow Pages) and typing in search terms. So if, for example, you want to see who is tweeting about Novell, just do a search on that. You will be able to read the profiles of the folk who turn up from your search to see if you want to follow them. If you click on their Twitter handle, you will be taken to the Twitter website. Login and click the follow button and you will now be able to see their tweets from your Twitter interface.
  3. Organize your information: After selecting a few people to follow, you will see their tweets show up when you log into Twitter. However, this endless stream can get a bit distracting and disorganized. You can choose to set up lists and group each of the people you follow from within the Twitter interface. So you may have a list for Novell, a hobby like classic cars, etc. To be able to easily see this information (and to set up Twitter searches so that you don't have to follow absolutely everyone Tweeting about a topic), you can use a Twitter client. I really like TweetDeck. It has a great desktop interface and a client for my beloved iPhone. (Clients are also available for Android and the iPad.) Simply go to www.tweetdeck.com and download the client for your chosen device(s) and follow the prompts. Tweetdeck organizes the people you are following and also your lists into columns. You can then add a column for different search terms. A search for "Novell or GroupWise" will yield you all of the tweets for the day on these topics – not just the ones from people you are following.

So here is how I use Twitter:

As I said, I have the Tweetdeck client on my iPhone. I have a Twitter list of Novell folk I follow which shows up as a column. I then search columns for the following:

  • Novell or GroupWise
  • Dressage ( A type of horseback riding that I do)
  • Brainshare

I check in about once or twice a day. When information starts to flow on things like the Attachmate deal, I may check in more often. On a topic like this you will often see tweets with links to articles. It is a great way to let others feed you information on these topics without personally searching the web. If I read the article and think it is worthwhile, I retweet it. If I find an interesting article during one of my Google searches, I will tweet that. We also tweet our Uptime Toolkit and Big Red N Connection notices because we can do it automatically through Constant Contact. And, as I said before, I tweeted last year from BrainShare and will do so if the conference is held later this year.

I find Twitter to be a great information feed on the topics I am currently following. It is quick and easy to set up, and only takes me about 5-10 minutes per day to check. Hopefully this article will help you to get set up quickly if you are interested in trying it out, or help you get organized if you have found the feed into Twitter has become too much to manage.

Happy Twittering!

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About the Author:
Donna Moyer is Principal/Senior Network Consultant of Uptime NetManagement, Inc. (http://www.uptimenmi.com/). Uptime is a Novell Gold Solutions partner providing technology solutions, customized training, and consulting services. If you are interested in finding out exactly what Novell can do for your business, or are seeking to maximize the benefits from your current Novell systems, call us today at 610-621-1244!