The Twitter Twelve

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rushing riverI was talking with a couple of friends recently about the “Twitter Twelve.” This is one of my tricks to balance social media consumption and sharing with productivity in offline work.

It is so easy to fall into the river of Twitter. You sign in and see surge after surge of information go by, pieces lumped together with hashtags, clogging up (trending!) things here and there, creating masses of information on the same topic. It is easy to get lost for an hour or more, following tags and trends.

Those who are working in small communications teams, or as the solo social media voice for their workplace, don’t necessarily have hours for this. It may be part of a communicator’s job to monitor or manage social media to see what is being discussed and emerging, so they can position their workplace accordingly. But to continue with the river metaphor, the edge is a dangerous place, and in the middle of a speeding flow even more so. You have to plan how to get out.

Mine is the Twitter Twelve. I set a timer for twelve minutes, and off I go. I spend twelve minutes reading and setting up tweets for the day, or maybe two, if I’m lucky. Sometimes I don’t find enough material I like for even a day, and that’s where the timer is really helpful. It says stop, and I stop.

The thing to remind yourself is you will never capture everything. Twitter is humbling in that sense. Unless you have a huge team for social media and you’re on it constantly, which frankly, I would find exhausting, you will miss things. That is ok. You need time and energy for other work, and turning away from social media is important.

I’ve done foundation work to to make the Twitter Twelve efficient. I have lists set up, and a selection of hashtags I follow. If I don’t want to jump into the river immediately, I go to Google and type in my interests to see what’s new. I use Feedly to follow developments on all kinds of sites.

I use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule my finds, depending on where I am at the moment. I use Hootsuite if I’m out and about with my phone, but tend to use Tweetdeck if I’m stationary. There are plenty of options, many of them free.

Balance of online productivity and offline productivity is the goal, and balance isn’t static- it encompasses movement. (Try standing on one foot for a minute and you’ll see what I mean.) You may find twelve minutes does it, or you want more. Set your own timer for your goals. If you have other online distractions you want to tame, How to Actually Stop Wasting Time on the Internet might be worth a read.


Image: icetsarina, Flickr, Creative Commons

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