Practical Twitter example: Listening post

TwitterSeveral people have asked how Twitter could be of value?

I am able to tap the Twitter search tool at http://search.twitter.com/, create an RSS feed, and pipe that into Google reader to quickly scan key topics. Example: key word "agriculture" in Twitter search is http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=agriculture and that brings back any post that mentions agriculture. Turns out there are some people that have that word and they are people that might have interesting info to follow so I click on their name to follow them. Through this I found http://twitter.com/SoybeanWatch . This person is just reposting stuff from traditional news outlets but there are some things I was not aware of.

I also found that some people Twitter on happenings at events I am not able to attend: the inauguration (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23Inauguration)... There were dozens of people twittering then that I was able to read what was going on without disruption to what I was doing that day (attending a silage leadership conference sponsored by Mycogen).

I also have personally used Twitter to capture some notes on event activities to share with others later. At the silage event I captured note and posted them on Twitter with a hashtag; hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They're like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag. So for the silage event I Twittered my nites with the hashtag #sslci ( http://search.twitter.com/search?q=sslci) and that material is now available to share later. I did the same for an event at the International Poultry Expo #ipe2009 (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23ipe2009).

This is one of those evolving media communication methods to capture share info. I think the difficult part is today it is used but what will this look like next month. Already there are shifts in how people use Twitter, SMS, and Facebook to replace phone calls. In a year will those same shifts be valid? Not sure.

I think the best thing is use Twitter as a listening post.

I suspect an analogy to questioning Twitter like features is that of when the phone became more that just an luxury and young people started talking with friends for hours, and their parents could not imagine staying on more than 5 minutes. My grandmother used to say "The long distance is for emergencies"... She was not a phone talker.