Lately I’ve become slightly addicted to Twitter, a microblogging tool that gives you 140 characters in which to update your status, send a message, network with like-minded people, post a link, or pontificate. (For more on using Twitter for business, check out How to Use Twitter for Business.)
I had been on Twitter for a while but found it pretty static. I’d be at Twitter.com and see 20 or so of the latest "tweets" from me and the people I follow. I might respond to one, and every once in a while I’d hit refresh, but it just wasn’t very engaging.
If this is how you view Twitter as well, and feel like you’re missing out on the party, I’d recommend downloading one of the other Twitter clients. My personal desktop favorite is twhirl, although others use Twitterfeed, Twitterific, or Tweetdeck. Each has unique features, but all basically let you use Twitter outside of Twitter.com.
Twhirl is a desktop application (outside a Web browser) that pings the Twitter servers every few minutes, returning new posts. I’ve configured it so that it alerts me with an alert if any of the tweets are to @the_rich_brooks (my handle) either as replies or direct (private) messages.
In this way I can have Twitter running in the background (so I can ignore it and get some work done), but I still don’t miss any important messages.
Yes, it’s true! Some people use Twitter to communicate with me. In fact, now that I only check emails a couple/few times a day, Twitter and Skype are often the best ways to get my immediate attention. (Shoot. Maybe I should have kept this secret.)
In any case, I recommend setting up a Twitter account and downloading one of the clients for your desktop (and for your iPhone or other mobile device) and trying it out. It turns a very static Web page into an interactive experience.