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Are You Taking Advantage of Twitter for SQL Server?

One thing I always do lately, whenever I give a presentation is ask the audience how many of them use Twitter. In most cases, less than half of the audience is on Twitter, and it is often much lower than that.

This gives me an opportunity to spend a few minutes to talk up the benefits of Twitter. I used to be a serious skeptic about Twitter. It seemed like a frivolous waste of time when I first heard of it. After all, did I really care what someone had for lunch?

Well, it turns out that there is a very active and helpful SQL Server community on Twitter. People like Brent Ozar (@BrentO), Thomas LaRock (@SQLRockStar), Paul Randal (@PaulRandal), Jonathan Keyhayias (@SQLSarg), Denny Cherry (@mrdenny), and Buck Woody (@buckwoody), to just name a few of the most popular and influential ones.

It is likely than most of your favorite bloggers, authors and speakers are on Twitter, and if you follow them, you will know when they have posted something new, and what they are doing. More importantly, you will get to know people, and they will get to know you, if you choose to participate in the community.

All you have to do is open a free account on Twitter, and start following people. I advise you to upload a picture of yourself (or some other image you really like), and then leave it alone, since people will recognize you by your avatar image if you don’t change it very often.  I think it is better to use your name for a Twitter handle rather than some cute tag, but that is just my opinion.

I also advise you to try to steer clear of political subjects, no matter how passionately you may feel about something, because you are bound to annoy people if you talk about politics in the SQL Server Twitter world. If you are interested in politics (which I am) you are much better off to create a separate Twitter account that you use for that purpose.

You should also use one of the better Twitter clients, such as TweetDeck (which is also free), so it is easier for you to periodically see what has been happening with the people that you follow, whether you have been mentioned, etc.

One place you can find people that you might want to follow in the SQL Server world is WeFollow.com. One specific list you might start with is the sqlserver list.

But wait, I have saved the best part for last! How would you like to get free consulting from someone like Paul Randal or Denny Cherry? Well, you can (as long as you don’t abuse it) by using the #sqlhelp hash tag. All you have to do is ask a question on Twitter and use the #sqlhelp hash tag, and you will get a wealth of world class, free assistance, often in seconds. Lots of very well-respected, heavy hitters in the SQL Server world monitor that hash tag, and will respond as long as you are reasonable and polite.

Of course, I am on Twitter as @GlennAlanBerry.


Posted by Martin Catherall on 19 March 2011

Yes, like you I used to consider twitter a complete waste of time - until I attended an SQLskills class from some of the people you mention above. Now, I use it a lot - more as a viewer at the moment - but I'm sure that will change. I advise anybody in the SQL community to at least give it a try - great article.

Posted by Steve Jones on 20 March 2011

Good advice, though I expect that the more people that jump on #SQLHelp or a specific list, the lower I think the value is. I would more suggest that if you get started on Twitter, look for friends, or people you know.

Posted by Glenn Berry on 21 March 2011

I think the problem for many new people on Twitter is that they don't know anyone else who is on Twitter, much less SQL Server people.

That is why I suggested a few resources to help get started.

Posted by John Sansom on 21 March 2011

Well said Glenn. There's a lot of people in the SQL Server professional space that are not even aware of the SQL Server community let alone the power and versatility of Twitter.

Steve, that's a very interesting point you make about the volume versus value of #sqlhelp. Right now the quality or rather experience level of participants certainly seems to lean more toward the higher end of the overall professional spectrum. For me personally this is what makes the discussions so appealing, both from a contributor and viewer perspective.

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