This post appeared fist at http://zenandtheartofautomatedtesting.eu/ on 18. Feb. 2012.
Since I’ll take that site down, I relocate it.
Uses of Twitter
First of all: Why discuss ways to use Twitter as a tester?
Well, almost all software is used in ways not anticipated by its creators. There are a lot of possibilities for a user to interact with the software — not caring about the system creators intentions.
And this is something a tester should practice: Find new ways to use given things.
I learned about a few more uses of Twitter at the conference and thus suggested the topic “How do you use Twitter (or other social networks)” for the Open Space session at the Agile Testing Days 2011 in Potsdam.
Thankfully enough people were interested in this, so here’s the result of this session in just one shot:
In the following sections I’ll comment on the items in the same order as we collected them on the flip chart.
Uses of Twitter
- Collect Haikus
For a start I put up this one, still impressed by Liz Keogh’s Keynote about Hypnosis & Haikus.
To generalise, I think Twitter can be used to share & collect about everything — given an account or hash tag to group it in some way.
- “Learn stuff” & “Solve problems”
This one boils down to ask a question using relevant hash tags (e.g. #Ruby, #testing, #quality) and getting help quickly. At other times you get very interesting input you didn’t knew you needed before actually getting it.
- “Stay connected to people”
In my opinion staying connected to people I met/meet at conferences (or local gatherings) is extremely valuable. According to Neal Ford’s article Twitter Matters: Keeping Up with Weak Social Links, closely related people (family, friends or colleagues we see every day) often have the same information sources as we do, so their information isn’t new to us, while people we don’t know at all, tend not to share enough common interests, so their information isn’t as relevant to us. However, people we don’t meet too often (say once a year) have the most relevant and new (for us) information to share.
- “Virtually attend conferences”
I haven’t done this (yet), but I imagine it to be fun. One of these conferences is the “ALE Bathtub Conf”, which you can attend in the bathtub, because no one would notice. See Bathtub Conferences
- “Mine opinions about products”
This is an interesting one I hadn’t thought of before, but was immediately obvious when explained: Search tweets about a product and attributes people typically use when tweeting about it: #great, #FTW, #fantastic, but also #FAIL, #WTF, #isitjustme.
Read what others think about a topic and follow shared links… This can yield entirely unexpected results/connections between topics.
- “Making friends”
Sometimes the Good Thing ‘just’ happens. An example Lisa Crispin shared with us: She tweeted about being stuck at home without a plan for the weekend (since the original plan to go to a conference in London fell victim to the Ejafjällajökull eruption in 2010). She read a tweet by someone from England who could not fly home due to the volcano, tweeting from a bookstore in Denver, CO. Result: They met, did some sightseeing and became friends.
- “Production monitoring”
Someone mentioned they’d monitor performance of their web application, by monitoring the tweet rate about certain words (I assume company-name, #slow, #down could be a start…) The more tweets (per time unit) they’d see, the slower the web application would perform.
To me, that’s fascinating, even though it’s more a (very good) heuristic, rather than a definite measure: Your users might come from a single time zone, so a performance drop during the night isn’t noticed immediately, or there is a problem — but no increase in the number of tweets because of another significant issue, e.g. a network outage in the wider area.
- “Get customer/tech support”
Some companies are very good at listening to tweets about their product, and answer with helpful tips and/or explanations.
- “Support for personal/professional growth”
This seems to be similar to “Learn stuff” & “Solve problems”.
- “Find a new job/project”
This happened to me: After the end of a recent project I tweeted about my availability, got contacted, had a short interview and found a great new project. Excellent!
- “Overload of tweets”
Obviously this entry isn’t a use of twitter, but rather a (possible) problem: There are only so many tweets you can read per day. Tweeting about almost everything in your life might result in people unfollowing you.
- “Get to know people”
By following people, you get to know (a certain aspect of) them: How/What they think about a topic, how they react, whether they’re looking for someone to join for dinner at a conference.
- “Twitter: For friends or colleagues”
We also briefly discussed the use of different accounts for different purposes or groups of people: friends, colleagues, profession, (programming) languages… Depending on the number of tweets about a certain topic it can be worthwhile to create an account for it: This way you can filter out (or focus on) this particular topic.
This last but not least entry is about the “other social networks” part of the sessions title. Entaggle was created by Elizabeth Hendrickson after a discussion about the value and sense (or lack thereof) of certificates for developers in general and testers in particular. On Entaggle you’d create a profile, be tagged and tag others using tags you (or others) create. That way a network of trust/respect is created.
The reasoning behind this: People seem to trust the opinion of a real (and probably well-known) person more than an anonymous certification handed out by some institution or company. Opinions of real people matter, especially if you can get in touch with these people and ask for more information (or reasons for a tag they used).
If you’re using Twitter in yet another way, I’d like to hear about it.