What the Tweet?!

Feb. 10, 2011
Follow Us on Twitter. But Why Should You? Why Would You Follow Anybody? In Real Life, That Behavior Can Get You Arrested
About the Author
Nancy Bartels is Control's managing editor. You can her at [email protected] or check out her Google+ profile.If you're a regular reader of ControlGlobal, I'm sure you have noticed the blue boxes that pop up regularly with the invitation to "follow" ControlGlobal on Twitter.

Why would you to do that? Why would you follow anybody? In real life, that behavior can get you arrested. Why does it seem like anybody with an Internet connection keeps asking you to follow them? Why should you? Why have anything to do with an entity with a lame name like "Twitter"?

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Because Twitter, once you master the basics that takes all of five minutes, is a streamlined way personalize the Internet just for you. Via Twitter, you get news from peers, people with interests or hobbies in common with you, businesses you might want to work with, magazines you read, societies you belong to, your favorite sports teams and just about anything else you can think of. 

Here's how it works. Each post, or "tweet," is a 140-character blast—that's characters, including punctuation and spaces, not words. It can be as lame as, "I'm having oatmeal for breakfast," or as interesting as the link I found to a New York Times story on the last hours aboard Deepwater Horizon. Links are key. There's not a lot you can say in 140 characters, but thanks to the miracle of the URL shortener, you can pass along reams of interesting, important or newsworthy information.

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The social media gurus focus on Twitter as a powerful marketing tool for businesses—and it is that—but it's more as well. It's become my all-purpose news and idea feed and one of my go-to places to find out what's happening in process automation and everywhere else. And the neat thing is that it's the people you follow who do most of the work because they're passing along links they've found.

Even if you rarely "tweet" or post an item yourself, selective following of others gives you great connectivity to the outside world. For example, last week, I got on to the Tunisian rebellion and was following events via tweets from people on the ground there before most of the media realized anything was happening.

More to the point for process automation folks, by following selected people and organizations, such as @controlglobal, you get links to white papers, news, magazine articles, blog posts, reports from user and professional society meetings and new product announcements. If you also follow @waltboyes, @kbonfante or me, @nancybartels, you will get links from items we "retweet" or pass along, from the folks we follow in process automation and elsewhere. It doesn't take long for the multiplier effect to go to work.

Twitter does have its downside—the Twitter hole. It's a giant time sink that can suck up hours if you're not careful. But, if you have the self-discipline to turn your Twitter feed off when necessary, you can have the parts of the Internet that interest you most at your fingertips when you want them. So follow us at @controlglobal and let the multiplier effect begin.