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Twitter overflow: How to find the stuff that matters to you – and be found by others

Here is a surefire way of losing your sanity:

  1. set up a Twitter account
  2. follow the 251 journalists, politicians and NGOs that really matter to you
  3. try to keep up with what is happening.

It will drive you crazy. The average Twitter users send 2-3 tweets a day, but professionals easily clock in with some 10 to 20 messages. Let’s calculate conservatively and you still face hundreds of tweets a day. Finding important information in this flood is next to impossible, if you have a job and a life.

Information overflow: the lighter the map, the more tweets have been sent (Thanks to Eric Fisher for Sharing under CC on Flickr)

Red dots are locations of Flickr pictures. Blue dots are locations of Twitter tweets. White dots are locations that have been posted to both.

So what to do?

1. Accept that you will miss stuff.

It sounds banal, but it really helps. Tell yourself honestly (and repeatedly) that you:

  • don’t have to see it all
  • don’t have to comment it all
  • and surely don’t have to share it all

2. Accept that others will miss your stuff

Twitter is superficial. You have done a great job if 1% of your followers clicks on a link in one of your tweets. More often than not they won’t.

Don’t worry. Everyone faces this. Sending a tweet is like standing in a huge public space – imagine NYC central station – and shouting out loud: “The train is late.”

Some will listen. Many won’t. They are reading a newspaper, dozing on a bench, chatting with a friend. If you want them to know, you will have to shout louder and repeat what you are saying.

3. Use tools

It's what separates men from (most) animals: using tools. We have moved on from stone axes, though. In the digital age, countless websites offer services related to Twitter. Some are useful, some a waste of time. But what really helps are Twitter lists and tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to browse them easily. They basically filter your inbox: you add ten accounts to a list and only their messages will be visible in that list.

Create your own Twitter lists

As with most good things, it is about hard work and discipline. You add a list to your account – let's say "Transport NGOs" or "EU Social Media Communicators" – and then you manually add those accounts that really matter for you.

Lists have to be maintained and checked. It should be a weekly routine. But it pays off. Once you have a decent selection of the most important professionals and organisations in whatever field of work interests you, you can get an idea of what is happening, what is hot in just a few minutes.

Tell others about your Twitter lists

Lists can not just help find the stuff you care about, but also make it easier for others to find your messages.

The European Parliament now has about a hundred different Twitter accounts. Add to this a few hundred accounts by MEPs and political parties and you are lost in translation.

That is why we have created lists that group specific EP accounts. One list contains all 22 parliamentary committees. Instead of browsing 22 different committee websites, you can now follow this lists and get an instant overview of what happens during a committee week. There is no faster way to learn about votes, get quotes from MEPs or find the latest draft of a legislative proposal.

 

 

You read English but would prefer getting our messages in other languages as well? No problem: our language list contains all 22 language accounts run by the EP. Find your mother tongue and follow it. 

 

 

BTW: Every language account contains yet another list with all MEPs tweeting in that specific language. The German account, for example, sports one list with all German and one list with all Austrian MEPs on Twitter. Just open one of our accounts and subscribe to the list in question.

Have fun!

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