The Practical Value of Twitter

November 20th, 2009 | Industry

Twitter buzz seems to be dying down, and I’m sure the media is ready for the next big site to emerge. There has been a lot of talk about the value of the micro-blogging site from a dollar sign point of view, but rarely do people talk about the practical value. Twitter has really proved itself to me in three key ways.

Community News

Ok, so it’s a bit of a stretch to call Twitter a community since a lot of people I follow don’t follow me back; but still every day I read about sites, tools and news that is relevant to my passions. If you’re following people who share the same interests, it stands to reason that the links they share will be gold!

One of many great examples was getting in with a group of people signing up for a Browsercam account (I wrote a review recently). While this is usually a $1000 / year membership fee, this group of 25 brought the cost down to $40 annually. Peanuts!

Fast News

It’s amazing how fast news like the death of Michael Jackson or Balloon Boy spread on the internet (and at times a little annoying how dominating they are). Twitter has proven itself as a real-time news source – but only if you know what you’re looking for.

Last month Kristi’s Go Train got stopped on the tracks without warning. She texted me to ask if I could find out what was up. I went to the websites of The Toronto Star, 680 News and Pulse 24 (three prominent news sources in the area), but none had any reports. I then did a Twitter search of “Go Train Milton” and quickly learned what was going on from people on the train and in the area who were in the loop and sharing. It’s times like this when it’s easy to see why Twitter Search has been called one of the most important sites on the web.


Twitter is also an amazing way to see what the mavens of the industry are up to. Web Design and Development might be a unique field to catch these insights, as the medium is also the platform on which these rockstars work. This has impacted my approach to certain aspects of Web Design and work-flow. I would say over all it has helped me to make my daily processes a little leaner and meaner.

There is a negative side to the  humbling experience of having the most outstanding people in your field “in the room”.  When asked if you know anything about a subject it is very tempting to downplay your expertise in the light of what can be known.

To sum it up, I am loving Twitter; and will keep using it as long as it is useful. I get so much more out of it than I can ever give back.

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