Twitter isn’t just a place to exchange meaningless thoughts in 140 characters or fewer. For plenty of people, it’s a place to meet and learn from people who share your interests. Genealogy, for example.
Here’s how family historians can use Twitter in their research:
1. Find other genealogists. Click Find People to search for folks with genealogy in their username. If you regularly read a blog, look on the blog for a link to Twitter. Once you find people you like following, see who they follow (listed on the right side of the person’s Twitter profile).
2. Learn about research resources. Many bloggers (including yours truly) feed their posts to Twitter, so you click the “tweet” to see the whole post. You’ll also pick up tips in people’s tweets about the latest records they’ve found.
3. Get opinions on genealogy Web sites and products.
4. Ask questions. You can just throw it out to your followers, or direct your question to someone using @ and the user name, like this: @FamilyTreeMag.
5. Be heard by people who work at genealogy companies. Use Find People to search for the company name.
6. Get links to how-to advice. Tweets are 140 characters at most, but people often link to helpful articles they’ve found online.
7. Hear about industry news. It’s like having thousands of eyes and ears looking for even obscure and not-yet-announced stories. If you see RT in a tweet, that means someone is repeating the tweet of someone he or she follows—you can see how the news gets around.
8. See how funny genealogists can be. One to follow: @TheGenealogue
9. Find events. Genealogy societies, libraries, museums, and conferences often tweet upcoming events.
10. Get cheap stuff. Many companies use Twitter to publicize sales and giveaways (some are exclusive to Twitter followers). Online backup service @Mozy, for example, has regular Twitter giveaways.