Monday, February 23, 2009

Managing a Twittering Flood

One of the trickiest things about choosing who to follow on Twitter is being sure you don't pick someone who floods the zone. Some choose to Twitter selectively, some post every single hour, and some people even set up bots to regularly chirp out messages on a pre-determined schedule.

Follow the wrong person and you can be swamped in a deluge of posts, missing someone else's valuable message in a glut. At the same time, some of these Twitter founts can be full of good solid information as well. The Twitterers over at SmartBlog on the Media, pointed us in the direction of this ReadWriteWeb post about pushes by federal government agencies to get in on using social media to keep people updated on health issues, such as the recent peanut-related salmonella outbreak.

FDArecalls, while important, puts out as many posts as they have recalls. With more and more peanut products being pulled from the shelf, I'd want to know before I bit into that snack crakcer where those nuts came from. At any rate, February 11th, for instance, saw sixteen individual entries. Follow FDArecalls and one other rapid fire Twitter source (telesaur, let's say for example) and your whole home page is dominated with messages from just two sources. Follow fifty different Twitterers and you'll have pages upon pages of links and messages to scroll through.

Luckily, there are options. For starters, you could simply bookmark Twitterers with valuable information by the gross ton and check in with them regularly. Or Firefox and Flock browsers let you easily organize your RSS feeds so you can keep up with heavy posters without locking yourself into having your Twitter home page dominated by their messages. And lastly, various third party applications such as TweetDeck can help organize all the Twitterers you follow making it simple to isolate the signal from the noise.

While not every Twitterer you find interesting is going to offer something you want to read every day (or every hour), before you've been Twittering for very long you're going to have to find ways to manage the flood. There's no time like when you first get started for setting up some organizing principle, though, because it won't take long before the waters start rising....

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