Twitter: Who To Follow

SMS Text

Twitter has been the talk of the Internet recently but it seems that many people are quick to write it off as a fad and fail to realize its potential: to be the go-to place for breaking news. That’s not to say it will ever reach that potential, certainly there are obstacles in the way such as how well the site can scale as it grows (it seems to be having some growing problems recently) and finding a balance between mundane updates (I just ate a great apple!) and breaking news (Earthquake in San Fran!!!).
While the mundane can be interesting/humorous and may be important to true friends, the breaking news is where the power of Twitter lies. A couple of weeks ago many were privy to learn about the earthquake in the Bay Area and the Scooter Libby guilty verdict from various people on Twitter before many media outlets had picked up on the stories. Earlier this week I learned of both the OS X 10.4.9 update and the release of Flickr Collections via Twitter…well before those stories broke on my RSS reader.
The power of Twitter lies in its brevity and its speed. Bloggers no longer have to pull out their computers to write and publish posts, they can send a single sentence via text message or IM and share news with hundreds if not thousands of people within seconds.

As it stands right now without sort, search, or frontpage features, the best way to utilize Twitter is to have the right friends. The big boys, CNN, The New York Times, are all joining, but those are simply RSS feeds being fed to Twitter. The real meat lies in the Bloggers who have worked Twitter into their daily routine and write Tweets (that’s the name for a Twitter blurb) more often then they blog.
Here’s a list of some users to befriend to get you started beyond the mundane (though they do that as well).
John Edwards (yes, it’s him…or at least someone affiliated with his campaign)
HenryRollins (doesn’t post that often, but humorous and poignant when he does)
State of Twitter (a couple of guys behind Twitter itself):
A mad rush of fake and humorous accounts (Borat, Steve Jobs, Condoleezza Rice, Darth Vader, Indiana Jones) have also started popping up if you’re into that kind of thing.
Please feel free to add me as a friend as well…though I’m admittedly pretty mundane at the moment.
Anyone else know of some solid Twitter friends? Leave them in the comments.

I like to think of Twitter as a kind of massively-multiplayer IM chat. On one hand it’s kind of annoying if someone is only talking to one person in a tweet (marked by the @_____ prefix) but on the other hand it’s kind of interesting and definitely voyeuristic…especially if you know both parties.
If Twitter can create options for separating friends from contacts and/or the mundane updates from the news updates, they will have a true goldmine on their hands. Blogs, RSS feeds, and social news sites like Digg simply cannot match their speed, especially when you add text messaging into the equation.
With Twitter it’s all about keeping your friends close, but your breakers-of-news closer.

Download: Social Media Strategy
Where the rubber meets the road: A look at SEJ's own social media strategy.