During the recent tragedy that unfolded in Arizona, Twitter was my primary source of information. It broke the news of the shooting and provided the latest updates.
I flipped on network television (don’t have cable) and no one was covering it. Not CBS, NBC, Fox or ABC. Even hours later! But Twitter was buzzing.
It got me thinking about how I use the medium beyond engaging and nurturing relationships. I use it to keep informed about what’s happening in the legal profession, who’s saying what, access to breaking news and emerging trends.
There are tons of useful web based programs, desktop clients and mobile applications, and with steady improvements and enhanced functionality, Twitter’s web interface is now a quick and easy tool and breeze to use.
However we can all agree that our news feed can get quite noisy. Harnessing that information requires serious filtering.
Craft a search for people, words and phrases, or location [example: “law firm” blogs OR blog near:”new york” displays tweets about law firm blogs in New York.] and save it. If unsure of the Twitter search syntax, use Twitter’s advanced search. Play around with this to create a search that will render the most useful results. You can also create an RSS feed for the query right from the results page. I use this feature daily by simply clicking on my saved searches.
Created organically by Twitter users, the # symbol followed by keywords categorizes the term making it easier to search for. Clicking on a term with a # hashtag will display all of the tweets in that category going back as far as the limited archival search function will permit. Searching for #copyright or #abatechshow will return the most relevant results.
Create Twitter lists based on a topic, profession, location or other areas of interest. Or check the lists of other users who’ve already spent the time and effort creating and editing them and follow entire lists! Some of the lists I’ve created include legal professionals, continuing legal education, and legal research. This is another feature I use frequently.
You can also create private lists. I have a private “daily” list of users who consistently provide useful, newsworthy content. These include the range of personalities and entities from legal to blogging, social media and beyond. I keep this list under 200, removing and adding users as warranted. The Twitter bookmark in my browser toolbar opens to this list so on those days when I’m only able to do a quick check-in, my experience is maximized.
Twitter is fast and accessible with tools to keep you tuned in to the latest news and information in your profession, practice interests and hobbies. However, it will require consistent time and effort, though not as much as you may think. You’ll be rewarded with a valuable source of timely news and useful information.