5 Things I’ve Learned About Twitter

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I started the CIO Twitter Dashboard a year ago today as an experiment to see what IT leaders were doing and saying with Twitter. Since then, it has grown to about 200 strong.  While there are many more IT leaders and experts using Twitter, I have kept this list focused on CIOs or those who are the senior most IT leaders in their organization – please let me know who I’ve missed and I will update it.  A year ago, there were a few directories out there, but none were moderated and, as a result, filled with consultants (guilty!) and former CIOs.  Since then, Twitter introduced their lists and several good CIO/IT leader inventories have emerged, like Abbie Lundberg’s.

With all of the interest in social media and enterprise collaboration, you would think that more CIOs would be active experimenting and learning with the major channels out there, especially LinkedIn, blogs and Twitter.  But, in our latest Diamond Digital IQ study, we found that fewer than 10% regularly use Twitter and only 20-30% actively use blogs and LinkedIn.

Here are some observations based on a year of studying CIOs on Twitter:

  1. CIO topics are very well-represented, largely through pointers to blogs and news.  Twitter can be used to access the latest news and opinions on everything from cloud computing to the iPad’s impact on the enterprise and everything in between.  Once you find a few people whose opinions you value, like Peter Kretzman, following them and their tweets really helps to home in on good content.
  2. A significant volume of CIO-related traffic is job related, maybe 10-20 percent.  Some are senior IT leaders searching for a new job and some are leaders looking for people to join their teams.  Demonstrating Twitter’s sharing ethos, John Moore, a Boston-based software CTO, sponsors a job sharing “event” every Wednesday.  People with jobs share them by adding the #workwednesday tag to their posts.
  3. Many CIOs have protected their Twitter streams which greatly limits the ability to be discovered by others you don’t know (see #5 below) and puts a burden on you to manage your followers closely (not to mention, totally missing the point of Twitter!).  There are many tools that can be used to filter out unwanted followers tweets, like Tweetdeck, which is my tool of choice.
  4. One of the most interesting uses of Twitter is to hold a virtual conference or chat.  I participated in one a few months ago on IT project success and failure using TweetChat.
  5. Perhaps the most important to me personally has been the ease with which I have found opinionated and deeply experienced people to discuss the CIO/IT issue of the day.  I’ve met and formed relationships with people like Peter Kretzman, Michael Krigsman, Andy Blumenthal, Abbie Lundberg, Chris Potts and Steve Romero and have met all but Peter and Andy face to face.

I think that more CIOs and IT leaders are using and getting professional value from social media than they were a year ago.  But, the value to most leaders is still unclear.  Do you think this will change or will Twitter become the next MySpace?

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