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Twitter versus LinkedIn

Among all the social media, I prefer LinkedIn.

I must admit, I was a skeptic at first. LinkedIn did a great job of getting me to their site because I received requests to connect from people I knew. How could I resist? With a single click, I was on the LinkedIn site. But then I thought, “You did a great job in getting me here but now there’s nothing to do!”

But that was until LinkedIn Groups came along. Last spring, TDWI formed a LinkedIn group and now it has more than 11,000 members. (See TDWI LinkedIn.) What’s great about this group is that people discuss and debate real issues of concern to BI professionals. I learn a lot from the discussions and have even incorporated comments from the site into research reports. If I have an interesting question or topic, I can usually get a half dozen or more responses within a day or two. This is a real community!

Twittering the Day Away. In contrast, Twitter makes me dizzy. I only follow 100 people but scanning through seemingly infinite posts, none related to another, many of which are cryptic, inane, or voyeuristic, is well… exhausting, annoying, and frustrating. How do people follow 600 people? Or 1,000? (And I won’t even discuss Facebook or MySpace, which I find totally useless from a professional perspective.)

To me, Twitter is more akin to an online party than an educational tool. When I’m on Twitter I feel like there’s a lot of loud background music, and you can hear tidbits of conversation here and there, with loud eruptions every once in a while when someone gets out of line. I think Twitter appeals to both socially gregarious people who are forced to spend most of their day tied to a computer and egoistic loners who now have a great excuse to share their inner dialogue with the rest of the world.

That being said, there are times when Twitter is quite handy. For instance, I find it valuable to hear what people are learning (in 144 characters!) at a conference or briefing that I wasn’t able to attend. It’s informed me when two thought leaders start feuding about one issue or another. In many ways, Twitter gives you the pulse of the industry. But keeping up with the industry via Twitter is almost a full-time job. And, I find it hard to Tweet and get any real work done.

So, while I haven’t turned off Twitter, I’ve decided to allocate most of my social media time to LinkedIn, which makes me more productive rather than less.

Monitoring Needed. Of course, it takes care and feeding to make our LinkedIn site effective. I’ve posted guidelines for usage, and every day, I have to purge the site of spammers. And once a month or so, I summarize and publish some of the more interesting or heated discussions for people who don’t have time to read through countless entries. Without such monitoring, a LinkedIn group becomes an irrelevant spamfest, useless except for job hunters. 

With such safeguards, however, LinkedIn is a wonderful, educational community, a perfect adjunct to TDWI's physical conferences. See you online!

Posted by Wayne Eckerson on December 1, 2009


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