Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Twitter value" is NOT an oxymoron

It comes up in conversation every day. OK ... mea culpa ... I usually bring it up. I drop some "Tw" word and sheepishly cringe as I wait to see the recipient's reaction to this bombshell, which unveils the fact that I do something so patently insane as frivolously wasting my time on social media.

Occasionally, the recipient's lack of surprise is a surprise to me. For those few (such as @dkhare), my relief must be palpable; for everyone else, I need a stock answer to "Why??" -- preferably convincing.

Twitter value 1: Welcome to my neighborhood

There are real people behind the avatars, and I get to know them 140 characters at a time. I gravitate to wonderful, smart individuals with interesting things to say. Six months of careful selection and pruning have garnered me a personalized, interactive network of techies, scientists, professors, business professionals, visualization designers, transportation experts, and lots of geospatial geeks.

Wandering around the neighborhood is as simple as clicking an icon on my phone and reading what's up. I engage Twitter in waiting rooms, on the bus, when I'm the first to arrive for a meeting, and whenever my husband picks up the remote.

Some of my Twitter friendships are growing into LinkedIn professional connections. @JasonBirch correctly predicted the lines would blur. Remember, these are real people and the conversation balances sharing interesting information and life observations/events (such as the birth of @GisPathway's geobaby). I don't care what they had for lunch, because I'm not a foodie, but I'll gladly share in the celebration of new jobs and sympathize with the trials of a challenging day. The best analogy may be water cooler conversations.

Twitter value 2: You can contribute

Everyone has skills and experiences that can be helpful to others. Everyone can be important in some sphere of Twitter connections. What is your special expertise?

Anecdotally, I found the joy of contribution my first week on Twitter. I haven't taught courses in years, but Twitter let me discuss strategies like active learning with @DonBoyes and suggest specific techniques I had used.

A common strategy for giving back on Twitter is to provide niche industry news with related links. You can do that. Retweeting (aka sharing the Twitter luv) can be win-win-win. Be viral with the best of what you read to benefit those who read you - the first win. Validate and credit the original poster - the second win. Give back; contribute value; be important - the third win. You can do that, too.

Twitter value 3: Craft your personal brand

My heart goes out to friends and family who are out of work. Personal branding and professional connections are especially important to them; however, standard advice is to establish this critical foundation before you need a job.

When you Google your name, how many links come up? How old are they? How relevant are they to your current interests and skills? Do you like what a prospective employer would learn about you?

Twitter provides an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your personality. Are you a gadget guru, incisively opinionated, or a peace-maker? Show the world just by being yourself, but avoid tweeting confidential company information, directly or indirectly. My personality, as discoverable on Twitter, is always real and always current. If you believe Twanalyst, I'm a Boffin. :0)

Twitter value 4: Learn something relevant

Twitter complements news alerts and blogs feeds. Browsing tweets gives you a sixth sense. For example, you can maintain a feel for multiple perspectives on divisive issues.

I regularly learn about new resources (tools, research, data) that are orthogonal to immediate interests, but come in handy, later. I hear experiences of early adopters and join in collaborative assessment. I share the excitement of new releases and vicariously attend conferences via Twitter.

If you're curious or need help, post a question to your followers. Request advice on which technology is best. Ask something off topic. Oddly, I was able to help @SMCSeattle with the name of a sticker company this week.

Won't you be my neighbor?

One lucky, pre-Twitter conversation with @SirChasm convinced me that we were birds of a feather because we ranged easily over a broad spectrum of philosophical and technical topics. We took the opportunity to maintain a connection and I am thankful for the initial serendipity.

A fitting bio and tweets create a public presence on Twitter that invites such serendipity. Searching for relevant others through keywords and hashtags short-circuits the need for serendipity.

For Twitter primers, check out How to be a good dog on Twitter and the Twitter FAQ. If you think I would add value to your neighborhood, you can find me @GeoEntelechy.

You be the judge

Is this convincing?

Do you know of other articles or posts to which I should point my skeptical friends?

What is your favorite example of Twitter value?


Valerie Yakich said...

Here is an argument on how to convince the CEO:

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!