Using Twitter

Using Twitter


Don’t listen to anyone who tells you there is a “right” and “wrong” way to use Twitter. There is not. Twitter is different things to different people, as it should be. This guide will hopefully explain one possible way to use it. If that appeals to you, try it out, if not, move on. The point is that Twitter can be an incredibly powerful platform and it’s worth at least understanding the potential even if you don’t plan on using it.

Another point to note: Twitter rewards many behaviors, yet over the long-term, I believe that you get the followers you’ve earned. A common (an understandable) complaint is that there is no room for nuance on Twitter. This school of thought also sometimes contends that Twitter rewards the opposite of nuance. Yet, while pithiness might “win” in the short-term, it attracts a following that expects and rewards pithiness. If that is your goal, there is certainly room for that, but over the long-term, nuance can still win. It all depends on what you use Twitter for: a megaphone, a sales channel, a journal, a billboard, an audience builder, etc…

I personally think of Twitter as a journal that happens to be open-sourced with the entire world. My journal in single-player mode is valuable to me as a place to consolidate thoughts or highlight pieces of information I find interesting, yet Twitter takes it one step further because I also get access to millions of other people’s journals and vice versa. Twitter automatically puts your journal in multi-player mode on a massive scale. It’s like having mutual read/write/edit access with millions of people’s thoughts. This is both powerful and potentially overwhelming and why curating and filtering who you “collaborate” with is incredibly important. This is an ongoing effort, not a set-it-and-forget it exercise, as you want to make sure you’re getting exposure to different types of thinking.

@KrisAbdelmessih notes that the skill of tuning your filter is absolutely critical in today’s world where we are inundated with information non-stop. There is no better battleground to tune your filter than Twitter:

“You cannot be an expert in everything. Modernity is too specialized and complex. Punters don't even kick field goals. This reality underscores the necessity of tuning a good filter. This filter cannot be so strict it ignores the fringe. This filter must consider whether something is "because of" or "in spite of". It must weigh incentives. Then know when to overrule the weights. You'll find yourself rummaging through a mish-mash of minds with bias and brilliance. With strange values and foreign logic. And this filter needs to triage these sources as they wait to be verified. Make no mistake, this is a 21tst century skill.”

Kris goes on to describe Twitter as a great way to observe the battle of ideas. The more you use Twitter, the deeper in the battle of ideas you delve:

“You unknowingly start to assign believability scores. Some folks sound smart, almost too slick, but you can't tell because they are out of your field. You struggle to judge them. So you watch them. At some point, they might tangle with an argument you have a solid grasp on. Now you have more information. You mentally build a profile. You wade through personalities looking for truth. The people you let in will become trusted sources of info. Unpaid curators. Friendly adversaries who can improve your thinking. And in the best cases, friends. Curate from different beliefs. Let the ideas compete on their merit and see if you can be like an MMA fighter taking the best from each martial art. Yes, this can be risky too. You may find yourself DM'ing with truthers or scheduling dopamine-fasts. But if you never make that error you are probably too conservative. If you never fail you don't take enough risk...Search for sincerity or decency or curiosity or being logical. These are traits of honest debaters. An honest debate is a performance even a truth-seeking detractor will appreciate. You don't need to agree with all your follows. If you do, beware, you are dangerously cozy.”

When you consider tuning your idea filter as a skill that can be learned and improved upon it becomes easier to allow yourself to understand Twitter as a valuable resource to invest time in rather than a feed to mindlessly scroll when bored. Twitter continues to be misunderstood by many who view social media through a certain lense, but consider reframing Twitter as a learning network -- wouldn’t you want to invest time in a learning network that can improve your knowledge base?

@bgurley calls Twitter the most amazing networking and learning network ever built and goes even further to say, if you’re not using Twitter, you’re missing out. Here’s why:


Twitter power user and great follow @jposhaughnessy simplifies this message in the following way: “follow people, get a sense for their thought process, and then when you see something that you think is really interesting, reach out.” It can be as simple as that.

The founders of GLG, one of the most-well known expert network firms, described their key insight as the ability to allow investors to “learn interactively, on-demand, on very specific topics, and in an atmosphere of trust.” Twitter unlocks the same ability for zero monetary cost. It is the ultimate expert network allowing users to use all the brains that they have, but also all that they can borrow.

The last thing to keep in mind comes from Stripe CFO Dhivya Suryadevara and it’s an important one: “It’s easy to get validation. It’s harder to find people who can challenge you and move you outside your comfort zone.” Twitter loses its power when you allow yourself to fall into comfortable echo chambers. This doesn’t mean you need to engage with trolls. It means you should be open to new ideas and always remind yourself that there is work required in order to have an opinion. Charlie Munger unfortunately isn’t on Twitter, but I like to think he’d see the benefits of it as a tool to efficiently destroy your ideas:


What People Are Saying


How to get your first 1000 followers
How to get your first 1000 followers

Other Resources

Twitter: Other Resources