My initial early attempts to start Twittering for PLoS were woefully inadequate. I have since cleaned up the evidence of my sad and sorry start (Twitter has a helpful delete function). Not only could I not understand what I was meant to be using it for (or even how to use it at all) but I was surrounded by people sharing the personal minutiae of their lives on a minute by minute basis – why would anyone be interested in that I thought?
It turned out that folks weren't captivated by the small stuff but that they were interested in what influential folks like Guy Kawasaki were paying attention to and, curiously, the inner workings of organizations such as SouthWest Air.
It was when I heard that the Obama grass roots election campaign folks had been using it to great effect and I read a blog post from Tim O'Reilly entitled Why I Love Twitter, that I decided to try harder and see if I too could learn to appreciate this social media tool and use it to keep our community informed of what we are thinking, following and watching on a regular basis. I was also encouraged by new PLoS IT hire and Twitterer Joey O.
In a nutshell, Twittering is "microblogging". It lets me (and hopefully other PLoS folks soon) share small tidbits about the things that we are doing in 140 characters or less (as you type it reduces the number of characters left available to you and gives you a red warning sign once you've reached your max). Lengthy PLoS article URL's are miraculously shrunk to itty bitty proportions thanks to their automatic tiny url functionality. Updating is possible via your cell phone or the web.
So does it work? Yes, I am happy to report that I've had a couple of good experiences where I've released information about an article that was breaking in the media and seen coverage of it grow as a direct result of the Tweet (the slightly odd but in its own way perfectly logical name given to single postings on Twitter), which was very pleasing.
You can check out all PLoS related Tweets made by me or anyone else who posts about PLoS in this search. As you can see, plenty of people across the world have plenty to say about us.
If you want to start following PLoS, you need to join Twitter and then become a follower of PLoS – you'll be in limited (but excellent) company, right now we only have 38 followers, but we sure would like more so please join us.