Get answers to questions
Got a technical question that needs answering? If you have a big enough following on Twitter or Facebook and/or belong to certain groups on LinkedIn, posing your question to these groups can be a timesaver.
"2,200 people are following me in some way and any given time I put something out there, some percentage of those folks are paying attention and may answer," says Dan York, director of emerging communications technology at Voxeo. He adds that he can save hours of time by posting a question to his Twitter network, which helped him solve a vexing Wordpress mirroring issue recently.
Social networks can also be used to get a feel for how different industries handle technical and business issues. "I am very interested to get the CIO perspective from outside the legal environment," says Jeffrey Brandt, chief information and knowledge officer at the Washington, DC-based law firm Crowell & Moring. Brandt belongs to a number of knowledge management and CIO-related groups on LinkedIn and finds "a lot of people's thought processes are amazing."
Keep up with news/trends
RSS feeds getting to be too much? Twitter and its many associated applications can help you keep tabs on the world around you or at least direct your attention to what is most important.
"It's an attention lens for me," York explains. "I follow a certain number of people that I have deemed to be authorities in their realms, so their links are of interest to me."
Many news sites offer Twitter feeds as a way to catch up on headlines of the day without having to browse a site or delve into an overflowing RSS reader. "I saw Nortel was filing for bankruptcy first on Twitter," says Wayne Bogan, CTO of Spirit Telecom, who has his BlackBerry set to check his Twitter feed once per minute to stay in tuned to what is happening.
During a December 2008 ice storm that knocked power out to more than 300,000 customers, Public Service of New Hampshire (twitter: @psnh) used Twitter to deliver status updates on how many customers were still without power and the progress that was being made. For those with limited 'net connections, the updates proved invaluable.