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Twitter From a Novice

Are you a statistic?

According to some reports, 73% of Twitter accounts remain inactive. This means to me that many people know that Twitter can be a helpful tool, but may not utilize it.

I have been using Twitter for about 2 years now and I admit that when I first started using it, it didn’t quite make sense to me. Most people say that you need to experience some success with Twitter and then it just clicks.

I don’t profess to be an expert on Twitter; however I do use it in my daily work to help students. With Twitter I can conduct research, get feedback on resources/products, or even have conversations with people who have similar interests/concerns.

The purpose of my post is to speak about Twitter from the perspective of a “novice user”.  If you are not familiar with what Twitter is, I suggest you review this video and read this article.

Here are the top 3 ways that I use Twitter daily:

RESEARCH

I believe that Twitter is a better search tool than Google.

Why? It’s simple.  When I do a search on Google, I get results of static information like a web page. With Twitter, I am searching people’s “conversations” or tweets, which are in real time.

When I research, I want to find:

  •  Trends, resources, and other facts
  •  Current information
  •  The individuals and organizations which influence decisions in specific areas
  •  What people think about a product, resource, organization, etc.

Just this week I was able to locate a few relevant professional associations, job boards and great articles for a student who was looking for information on nursing. I started off with simple searches such as “Nursing jobs” and was able to quickly locate numerous Twitter accounts dedicated to the field. The quality of information and how quickly I was able to find it was a testimony to Twitter.

HAVE CONVERSATION

Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, you don’t have to ask for “friendship” to get connected. Therefore, Twitter facilitates open conversation.

Another aspect I really like about Twitter is that anyone can converse with anyone. I have been able to reach out to people all over the world including people from the UK, Australia, Amsterdam, and surpisingly to me, many Americans from the mid-west. If someone is of interest to you, let them know by following them and asking them a question or paying them a compliment.

About a month ago @omarcruz sent a public tweet to me after reading one of my posts. He shared how the post was relevant to him and I reponded to him.  Over the next few weeks we exchanged direct messages and found that we had similar interests as well as a desire to learn about the concept of branding. Now I feel that I can pose him questions and feel confident that I will get a fairly quick answer back.

I have connected with numerous professionals  on Twitter in order to:

  • Set up informational interviews
  • Gain information on resources by industry
  • Ask questions about the job search process
  • Receive recommendations for future blog posts  

 Now that I have a collection of people on Twitter that have similar interests, I can interact beyond the 140 character limit by connecting with people via email or on LinkedIn.

GET FEEDBACK

The Twitter community works together to give feedback.

Whether I am looking for a review or help with a certain product (@visualcv and @SOUTHWESTAIR are my favorite accounts for customer service issues) I can either ask the Twitterverse or search to see if my issue is already being talked about. It could be a simple question such as: “Does anyone have experience with XYZ product/web site/tool?” or I could do a search for something like “Gmail down” to see if others are talking about a specific issue with a product.

This week, I had a student set up an appointment with me to help her explore the possibility of working in the voice over industry. In my six years at the Career Center, I had been asked about this industry a total of zero times. So what did I do?

I tweeted the following:

“Career Experts: Looking for ways to connect a student to voice over, crew head or theater education jobs/internships.  Any leads?”

Within hours, I had a response from @caldwellM with a few resources that I was able to share with my student before our appointment. Thus, the student was able to have the opportunity to review some sample job opportunities and it gave us the chance to have a much more complex conversation when we did meet face-to-face.

My hope is that those who are inactive on Twitter start using this tool today using my simple examples. I am sure that many others have great tips and helpful information surrounding the use of Twitter so please feel free to add to the comments section.

Author:

Joe is a career counselor at San Jose State University. His areas of specialization include: experiential education, resume development, interview preparation, job search strategy, and assessment inventories. In his role, he also serves as the community manager for the Career Center’s social media outlets. Connect with Joe on Twitter or follow samplings of his work via the SJSU Career Center Blog and Career Action Now.

Related posts:

  1. Twitter Basics Part 2: Furthering Connections
  2. Twitter Basics Part 1: Setting Up Your Account & Tweet Beginnings
  3. Twitter Chats

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