I've wrestled with appropriate Twitter strategy on and off over the last couple of years. Since Mr. Crap Mariner started a ranked list of Second Life tweeps, I thought this would be a good time to rethink the topic. Of course, the initial area of inquiry quickly took on a life of its own so I ended up with more of a meditation on human happiness than a plan of action for Twitter. Maybe next time. :)Any good strategy starts with a clear understanding of the goal we seek to achieve and its underlying purpose. In most cases, the tangible object of our desire is actually a means to a greater end such as happiness for self and others, love, respect, self-improvement, wisdom, etc. Unfortunately it is very common to go through life repeating behaviors that either don't support such underlying higher-level needs or actually undermine them. We don't do a very good job of predicting what will create happiness in our lives.
One concern I have about the trend to gamify life is that it seeks to manipulate our behavior by associating intense, but short-lived gratification with the achievement of otherwise meaningless rewards. It creates the illusory sense that we have satisfied some foundational human need within an intentionally addictive framework that keeps us checking in with Foursquare or following back people on Twitter to inflate our follower count. Although we know in our hearts that being Mayor of Starbucks or being in the top ten of Second Life tweeps isn't really a reflection of being worthy of love and respect, we keep pressing the treat lever like good little lab rats.
That said, I do believe that Twitter can be a genuine vehicle that contributes to the happiness of self and others. It allows us to share information we believe is of value to others. It can be an avenue to initiate friendships that can deepen over time and repeated interaction. It can help us keep in touch with existing friends, colleagues and distant family. It can support our professional life through "personal branding" and providing a vehicle to demonstrate expertise in our field of knowledge.
I have to admit that my own use of Twitter isn't entirely enlightened. I check Twitter Grader from time to time and have thought about how I might increase my score. But I usually come to my senses and seek the same kind of obliviousness I have to Plurk Karma. Wish me luck!