In previous posts on this blog, particularly a recent one called “Automating your SharePoint Install,” I mentioned several people and included links to their twitter timeline. Here they are again:
- Brian Lalancette (@brianlala)
- Todd Klindt (@toddklindt)
- Joel Oleson (@joeloleson)
- Gary LaPointe (@glapointe)
If youâ€™re involved in SharePoint, you need to be on twitter. This is really my primary method of gaining knowledge and reading news regarding SharePoint. I tried hard for many months to keep up with the latest news, trends, and updates through blogs (RSS reader) and that was really not enough. It was too hard to distinguish whatâ€™s pertinent and what was just opinion articles or specific problem resolutions on blogs. I admit, it took me a while to figure out how to use this twitter thing that was creating so much buzz. Twitter has many uses but Iâ€™m going to focus in on two things: community involvement and knowledge sharing.
The experts Iâ€™ve listed above regularly tweet (twitter term for post or a posting), usually sharing blog posts or other links to resource that theyâ€™ve found useful. In fact, the â€œre-tweetâ€ helps to ensure the most important or pertinent information gets seen by everyone and bubbles up to the top on trending charts. So how do you get started?
1. First, chose a good client. Iâ€™ve tried a few but keep coming back to TweetDeck. Itâ€™s one of the most used, has a clean interface with just enough information and is easily customizable. For my Android-based phone, I prefer twidroyd for the same reasons plus its ease of use. And finally, if your desktop or phone arenâ€™t available, I recommend using Hootsuite which is a web-based twitter client. I like it much better than the office twitter.com web site.
Choosing a good client will really make it easier to start using twitter. In fact, it wasnâ€™t until I started using TweetDeck that it all made sense to me. Be sure to display columns for Mentions, Direct Messages, and Favorites. I use Favorites as a bookmark to look at things later when I have more time.
2. Find â€œpeopleâ€ to follow who will provide the information you need without flooding you with personal information. I put â€œpeopleâ€ in quotes because some of the best twitter accounts are not actual people; they may be programs, or a team account, or a company account. So hereâ€™s my recommendations to get you started:
- @SharePoint : The SharePoint Product Group. Besides their own information, they do retweet useful information from the community.
- @SharePointRiver : A river of information on SharePoint
- @Erik_Berlin : Erik retweets a lot of popular posts, so let him do the sifting for you.
- @TeamEUSP and @EUSP : Team account for one of the most popular SharePoint sites, EndUserSharePoint.com
- @SharePointBuzz : Similar (maybe better) to SharePointRiver, will re-tweet the most useful links, resources and tweets about SharePoint.
Once you get used to that, youâ€™ll be able to see where these accounts are sourcing their information. Much of it will come from MVPâ€™s and experts like the those listed at the beginning of this article. You can visit their timelines and follow them if you decide to. New features in twitter now recommend people you should follow and show you who is similar to you.
3. Interact. Find something useful on the internet? Have your own blog or link? Figure something out that you want to share? Have a question for the pros? Write a tweet, if itâ€™s about SharePoint, you can append the #SharePoint hashtag.
But what use is this if no one is following you, no one will see it right? Wrong. Many people (like me) also search for tweets using hashtags, in my case the #SharePoint hashtag. Also, popular internet engines like Bing and Google now do â€œreal-time searchâ€ and will pick up your tweets. Finally, someone may come along and click on your timeline. If they find it interesting, youâ€™ll gain followers.
If youâ€™re a SharePoint IT Pro, Developer or business user, twitter can be a useful tool in your arsenal. Now that Iâ€™m comfortable with it, I can skim through 100 tweets in under a minute, tag the ones useful to me and read them later. This actually saves me a lot of time over the old blog RSS reader method. Plus, because its real-time, I know whatâ€™s going on right away and that can be very useful. Case in point, the October Cumulative Update was released and almost immediately retracted because it could break your SharePoint farm. Because of the nature of twitterâ€™s real-time capability, the awesome SharePoint community and reinforcing tools like â€œre-tweets,â€ I was able to know, right away, NOT to install the update. This probably saved me a few days worth of work.
There are many others I wish I could list, maybe hundreds, who contribute via twitter. Iâ€™m grateful for the involvement in the community, the knowledge theyâ€™ve imparted on me and Iâ€™m always in awe of all the new things they discover and share. You could click on my twitter profile (@wahidsaleemi) and take a look at the people who Iâ€™m following. Most of these are SharePoint professionals, though there are a few friends and non-SharePoint folks. Another way to find more people, besides using the hashtag search, is to search for SharePoint lists in userâ€™s profiles.