Since I signed up with Twitter about two years ago, I’ve been using it mostly to share the best tech links I’ve come across during the day, and I also see some of the tech news stories tweeted by people I’m following. But Twitter isn’t my number 1 source for finding news stories – no, it’s still Google Reader. And for me, Twitter may not be the best place to share links any more as we’ll see below.
I’ve noticed a number of people saying recently that they can get all the news they need in Twitter. On the TWIT 267 podcast recently, Veronica Belmont said, ‘I hardly use Google Reader any more just because all the great news of the day kinda floats to the top for me in Twitter and you follow the people you find interesting’.
And that’s absolutely true, the top stories do float to the top, but I don’t just want the top tech news. My interests include web apps and services, WordPress, SEO, blogging tips, Linux, Windows tips and tricks so I’m not so much interested in top news stories as blog posts which will effectively increase my knowledge and productivity in the areas I’ve just mentioned. And the best way to get that knowledge is to identify and follow relevant blogs in my RSS reader. I subscribe to 325 blogs at the moment in the areas I’ve mentioned so I can easily get overwhelmed with new posts. I find Google Reader Filter is great for filtering out posts with keywords I’m not interested in and I’ve blogged about it before.
I also use Siftlinks to gather up all the links from the tweets of people I follow and push them to an RSS feed and I come across some interesting tech stories there, but not as many as I do from the blogs I follow in my RSS reader. The real problem is, not everyone bothers to share or tweet a good blog post or retweet a good link. So I just can’t rely on all the stuff that’s interesting to me getting through on Twitter.
Other ways I use to find tech stories (and new interesting blogs) is with Lazyfeed which searches for and presents stories based on keywords and also by clicking Explore in Google Reader and letting it serve up posts similar to my interests.
On Twitter, when someone tweets a link they’ve obviously visited a blog and made a decision on whether they think it’s worth passing on to their followers – it’s their decision. Blogs and RSS feeds from blogs are primary sources of information. If you follow blogs, you’ll see everything there and you can decide what to pass on, and not rely on others to pass it on to you. Twitter is a secondary source – once a link gets to Twitter, someone has made a decision to share it from a primary source. Another real problem with Twitter is that some of your followers have no real interest in your tweets. They’ve just followed you in the hope of a follow back just to promote their own tweets. On Twitter, I’m increasingly being followed by company owners, social gurus and marketers who are just promoting themselves. I generally don’t follow back unless they seem interesting and I have to judge whether they are actually interested in my tweets.
Another problem with Twitter is that tweets worth sharing can easily get missed and soon disappear from view. There’s been a recent finding that 92% of retweets occur in the first hour. This means that if a tweet is not retweeted in the first hour, it is very likely that it will not be retweeted. I have a small band of followers who share my links and my thanks to them, but in the main, most folk are just following or consuming without sharing. And that’s fair enough. For many, Twitter is a place for conversations and consuming content, not just for sharing links.
I try and pass on the cream of what I’ve read on the 325 blogs I follow. But as I say, Twitter may not be the optimum place for me to share links, so I tweet them and the tweets get passed on to my Facebook page, to Delicious (via Packrati.us) and to Friendfeed. I’m also starting to use the new Digg more to share my favourite tech links. Perhaps if they can get through their current problems, Digg may emerge as the best place to share links with those who are genuinely interested in what you have to share. Follow me there or on the other sites I’ve mentioned for the best in tech links.
How do you find stories and share links? Drop a comment below.