Many people whom I know and respect have engaged in self-imposed Twitter bans recently. I have found myself fuming over tweets and fussed about it to people who don’t care, for ages and ages it seems. However, I totally rely on Twitter to keep me informed about absolutely everything that’s going on in our industry. If someone writes a blog post, I find out through Twitter. If Google decides to do something insane, I hear it through Twitter. I don’t rely on RSS feeds or bookmarks or word of mouth anymore; it’s just me and Twitter. However, Twitter is quickly killing my goodwill and sanity. The self-promotional tweets about how much money you just made or how many job offers you’ve just turned down turn my stomach. The bickering and bitching suck me in until I’ve read 10 blog responses to 1 inflammatory blog post, and hey, it’s time to go pick up the kids already. I no longer have time for such a mess.
What can you do though, if Twitter is your go-to source for information? Once you’ve been clued in for long enough, being out of the loop seems terrifying. What will you miss? Will so and so be fighting, again, and you won’t get to see the mean tweets back and forth? Will you not immediately know when some blog has published a post so that you can rush to comment on it and again and tell us how great you are? Will you stumble because you want to do something yet you’re unable to due to having become reliant upon follower feedback for every step you take? Does my new avatar make me look fat? Can you believe what this mean person said to me in my blog comments?
Think back a few years to how you consumed industry news pre-Twitter. There was Sphinn, which has gone away. There were RSS feeds which are still being used. We bookmarked blogs and checked them every now and again, and we participated in forums. Sometimes we had to actually dig for information. That was kind of fun, and not nearly as overwhelming as Twitter has become for me.
We now have Marketing Land and My SEO Community (both of which I am very proud to be a part of) and we have lots and lots and lots of curation. People are doing some seriously great roundups. Tamar Weinberg’s Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2011 was truly amazing, for example, and full of articles that were concerned with topics that aren’t just relevant for 3 days. We have Google Plus which already seems to be spammier than Facebook, with much of it being a repeat of what’s on Twitter and Facebook, but hey, there seems to be a bit less whining and bitching there right now. And, of course, there are still forums! There are private Facebook groups and group Skype chats. There ARE alternatives to staying informed.
My latest favorite way to keep an eye on this is by visiting Coconut Headlines, which is a fantastic overview of all the big SEO news. Just a quick glance at the headlines is helpful enough to keep you clued in on a basic level. You get the big SEO news site headlines, Q and A from Moz, forum topics, and more. Spend 5 minutes just skimming headlines here and you’ll save god knows how much time on Twitter.
But back to My SEO Community for a minute…our first blog entry in the Mad SEO contest truly blew my mind. In it, Pete Wise describes how to use Yahoo Finance to track what’s going on in Google. He didn’t try this because Twitter irritated the pants off him or anything, but I think it’s a great idea. In the comments, Pete says “The more creative you can get with information filtering, the less you have to spend time sifting through it yourself.” We do have information overload so I like reading about great ways to stay posted on things but still be productive (and not keep giving a crap about what Joe said to Terry that was rude and now she’s going to get all her friends to block Joe.)
In the end though, I could never give up Twitter. It’s like smelling bad milk. You HAVE to do it. I’ve unfollowed some people who annoyed me the most but during calm moments, I kind of miss being so easily irritated by them. Just in writing this post, I think I’ve spent 2 hours reading tweets. After writing this piece, after thinking about alternative news sources, and after fussing and being annoyed, I’m probably still going to run right to Twitter to see what’s going on in the industry today. It’s just nice to realize that if I decide to give it up, I can still keep up.