But Twitter *IS* Work!

Last night I received an email from a good friend who shudders at the very mention of Facebook, but is reluctantly peeking at Twitter. Twitter is under consideration simply because I post links from her blog there and (I assume) her views spike for those posts. Aha.

Anyway, our conversation revealed a lot of the kinds of thoughts and assumptions about Twitter that come from people who are NOT using it or familiar with it. The conversation went something like this.

With the amount of time you are spending on Twitter – how do you get any work done?

Twitter *IS* work! All the links I post are routed to Delicious via Packrati.us and also to Trunk.ly and stored, some backed up in a blog (I hope, soon!), all without my doing anything else.

… and the “how to know if it is the wrong guy” relates to information management and library science?

Actually, yes, in a few senses.

1. The author is a health care social media person with whom I hope to collaborate.

2. She’s working on using social media to prevent domestic violence, and this is part of that series, probably the catchiest one. That gives a definite healthcare connection, which is a focus of my job.

3. Part of effective social media use is the right balance of social to professional, with the recommended balance being 80/20 meaning 20 pro. I obviously fail on that. Way too much pro stuff.

4. Part of social media is reciprocity, and sending on work by someone else is considered being friendly, a nice thing to do. It also shows that you are listening, and that you care about their work, not just tooting your own horn.

5. A big role for library and information types is curation – using expertise to scan a variety of information sources, gather, select, curate, annotate, and disseminate. Social media is another way to do this.

There is a method to my madness. 😉

I don’t think you are completely mad. It is just that some of the stuff reflects what has been on Yahoo and the news in the last couple of days. End result is that it can look strange.

(OTOH, given the thousands of your TWEETS, it must keep you busy!)


The Delicious bookmarklet broke on my computer because of the size of my Delicious archive (>30K). It was just so slow to respond that it wasn’t worth my time to try to use it. So I now have to bookmark anything I want to keep by pushing it through Twitter (fast) or going to Delicious web site and working through a series of menus (slow). This means my streams have gotten muddied and less focused.

Part of what I do is prowl what is coming in via Twitter, Facebook, Identi.ca, Plurk, other people’s Delicious, and such. Then I open windows to proof anything that sounds interesting. If I still think it is interesting after skimming, I want to bookmark it. Then it has to go through Twitter.

I tend to push out links that are on any of the topics/purposes that are core foci of my job, interests for which I would expect people to follow me, and then a few things that are just personal interests get thrown on from time to time (like cooking and crafts and science fiction).

I also participate in a number of scheduled Twitter chats, which really elevate the number of tweets! A lot of folk follow me tho, and they say I share useful stuff, so I must be not too awful. Some say following me is like sipping from a firehose, but that’s fair since it feels that way to me, too! I’ve actually been asked to give presentations on how to “sip from the firehose”, LOL!

6 responses to “But Twitter *IS* Work!

  1. First of all, of course, thank you for posting the link on Twitter and Facebook. The teaching point on that is really important- and I think often overlooked by users- which is that we should be acting online the same as we would off line: sharing, supporting, collaborating, giving credit, not only about self-promotion, etc. To me, social media has to be about engaging in a real, personal and meaningful way- and that’s all about how we conduct ourselves in relationships everywhere. In fact, of interest on this point to your readers, may be that you and I first made a connection when I (ridiculously enthusiastically *grin*) found a slide-show you did here from a Twitter chat (from #HCSM) and embedded it on my own site on a permanent page- giving of course links back to your site, your employer’s site, and your twitter account. (Yet another part of the lesson is that we all need to give each other proper credit for hard work done.)

    On the issue of domestic violence and healthcare social media (HCSM) anyone who knows me, has followed what I do, etc…knows that I am passionate about the fact that violence against women, mental health, and addictions are all health issues, and therefore all should be integrated into what is now called HCSM. Another somewhat tangential example is that many of us have a long discussions, and agree that nutrition (essential to health) is at its root an economic and social issue…so to not include all of the factors would be remiss. I believe that while anyone in HCSM has a different perspective or particular interest, that we all generally agree that one of the great benefits of HCSM is that it’s an opportunity for us to bring together all of the different segments, providers, organizations, etc who serve for a better, healthier world. While my primary focus is on best-evidence medicine and enabling more physicians to easily get online, the end result should be that we are all able to collaborate in one or many places to combine many goals that overlap.

    All of that being said, I clearly fail the 80/20 rule- which again reflects the rest of my life. I thought you meant to say 80% work! *grin* Twitter for me has been virtually 80% work, though I have happily made some great friends along the way. I never thought that is what twitter was about; and grimace when friends and family make fun of my “tweeting” as if it isn’t proper work. Interestingly, until the other week, facebook had been a long-term, very private site to share updates with my close friends and family. I only made my facebook page “open” a couple of weeks ago after a lot of requests from people I haven’t met in person.

    I’m very interested to hear more about how you route and store your Tweets (I just thought it was all there and I was going to have to dig through it some time on Twitter to pull it all together…I hope it isn’t all lost now!) I’m also interested to hear more about the digital archiving you do. It’s a big question and issue. When we were online in ’99-2000 (I know ANCIENT), The University of Virginia archived all of our newspapers and magazines (therefore my columns are saved somewhere in the vaults of UVA), but when our company was closed and the site went down, millions of pieces of content went away forever. I think if more people understand how the archiving works, it would give a lot to many writers, researchers and offline people- because I know even for me I feel a fleeting loss about the long amounts of time I spend writing for online- in that it, too, will be lost forever in cyberspace, even though I personally spend the same amount of time on a “blog post” as I would a newspaper or magazine column.

    This is clearly the longest comment I have ever left. Thanks for all you do for the social media community that is (yes) working hard online :))


    • Wow, Gail! That *is* a long comment! Very passionate and important content, also! I’m going to keep my reply short.

      1. WOW and YES > “acting online the same as we would off line: sharing, supporting, collaborating, giving credit, not only about self-promotion, etc. To me, social media has to be about engaging in a real, personal and meaningful way- and that’s all about how we conduct ourselves in relationships everywhere.”

      2. BINGO! This is the point of health care in social media, and also science 2.0. >” the end result should be that we are all able to collaborate in one or many places to combine many goals that overlap.”

      3. Twitter and the 80/20 rule. Sigh. Pareto’s Principle is used and useful for many many things. I am not the only person who uses it simply “because”, and then prays it turns out to be right. A lot of the posts and articles that state these ideas of how to do Twitter “right” don’t provide research or evidence or data to support their statements. They might say they have data, but they aren’t sharing it. I don’t know for sure if they are right or making it up. I know when I see a stream that is 80% saying “hi” “yeah” “oh, you’re right” kind of chat, I don’t follow them. Like Holly said, I want GEMS in my stream, content I can reuse, learn from, share. Yes, I also want to talk to people, and ask questions and get answers, but that is only part of it. I wonder how the folks saying 80% social and 20% work are classifying tweets into those two groups. I wonder where they get the data. Yada yada. I wonder if they are right.

      4. Working on it. Isn’t going to happen soon. My presentation on that topic is in May.


  2. I just caution if the stuff to gems ratio gets too high, you run the risk of people starting to ignore you.


    • This is a source of constant discussion among those interesting in social media “optimization.” Basically, yes, I agree wholeheartedly.

      While I am aware of a lot of these recommendations (such as the 80/20), I tend to not follow them intentionally. I just sort of do what I do and it seems to work. I think part of the reason is that my interests are so diverse that few people are going to want to track all the topics for which I am responsible or which I include as major themes in my stream. I suspect that most people follow me for ONE topic (such as health or science 2.0) and then ignore the rest of it. That gives me the 80% “social” as stuff I put out that they aren’t interested in.

      From what I’ve read, the logic is that people appreciate streams that are curated personally, and how they verify that a person is behind it is through the social chitchat. There are streams I have unsubscribed from because while the content was useful, I could tell it was selected by a bot. I don’t want to scrape from or to bots, and I don’t want to look like a bot myself. I do personally curate the links that go through my stream. I usually proof a link before sending on. Sometimes I RT from a trusted source without checking, and that is a route I’ve found can lead to my not being as trusted. So I really *try* to look at everything, unless my browser is about to crash.


  3. A much shorter reply: perhaps part of the 80/20 is what people define as work. For me work is learning, collaboration, support, team-building- certainly not just throwing links out for information. So a significant amount of my twitter activity (maybe 80%??) is in and around chats. It’s work, but it’s interactive and engagement. While people have an idea of what I do for the rest of my work, it’s not just sending out links and posts, it talking about issues that are relevant to us all in different ways.


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