Sunday, May 24, 2009

15 Thoughts after a Month on Twitter

Now that I'm a month into Twitter, here are 15 thoughts ... in no particular order ...

1. Many Followers is not necessarily a sign of expertise or popularity. I noticed one of my followers has many hundreds of followers while he's following more than a thousand. And all he's posted is 8 random quotes. Some just automatically follow anyone who will follow them. So, some of Twitter is just a big numbers game. Ridiculous. But if you're Oprah, it actually is a sign of popularity.

2. Block the Call Girls. Got a "party girl" as a follower complete with inappropriate primary picture. That fits right in with association execs, real estate types and Maine businesses? So hit Block. Glad that feature was there.

3. Use DM for God's Sake. There's a feature where someone can send a Direct Message (DM) to someone else on Twitter. That feature needs to be used way more than it already is. We would have exponentially more time in our Social Media lives if there wasn't a need to wade through what are basically personal comments between two people. (Although I think you can't DM someone you're not following - which leaves global message as only option?)

4. Conference Live Tweeting often has little to do with the content of conference. I recently followed a conference and sent tweets about it. Out of several thousand attending, I'd guess maybe 30 were actually using the meeting hashtag (#) to report. Many of those were going to the same meetings, and a few only talking about the blogger's lounge or where they were hanging out that night. Was wishing the idea of "meeting up" meant attending meetings and sending info about the content itself. There were many reading the # content though even if not attending or commenting, as I learned from all the email I got.

5. Meeting planners need to absolutely ensure wireless access. It is now beyond seriously aggravating to not be able to get wireless connection, even for cell phone access, at conferences. If any of your meeting space is in a basement, and hundreds or thousands are going to spending part of the day down there, why not make it easy for them to communicate? I learned a BIG lesson with my total frustration trying to use Twitter in a basement meeting room (i.e., don't let it happen to my own meeting attendees.)

6. There are serious people to follow on Twitter. I'm finding members of our legislature. While those same people are great at responding to email, it's been really enjoyable reading their random/specific observations about what's happening at the State House. There's also one association exec in Maine doing a really good job reporting on his industry via Twitter (@mainemerchants) which is teaching me how it can be effectively used by an association. Which is actually a big question in my mind.

7. If businesses are handing out special discounts via Twitter, then count me in. I like travel bargains, and the fact JetBlue (@JetBlue and many other businesses) send out limited specials is appealing. Yes, I would go to some random place in Europe with one day's notice.

8. Get your association's name, nickname or acronym on Twitter before it's too late. Didn't we learn that lesson with domain names?

9. Even 140 characters doesn't stop mistakes. I can make just as many mistakes with a small amount of space to work with as I can with an unlimited amount of space. But unlike blog and Facebook postings, there's no removing that bad info (unless there is and I just don't know how to do it yet?)

10. Twitter is incredibly time-consuming but definitely skill-building. You'd think that bite-sized would be easier but it's actually much harder. I find writing a blog to take exponentially time than Twitter. There is just such massive amounts to wade through on Twitter (even participating in really small way). But, it's definitely helping me to think about how to reduce words in my association e-newsletter too as I try to reduce words to communicate on Twitter. And some day I may really post a picture 10 seconds after I take it instead of later that evening.

11. Following a hashtag can be like the good ol' days of AOL chat room. When AOL started one thing I loved about chat rooms is they actually stayed on topic. So if I went to a foreign movie chat room (the topic I liked) we actually talked about movies. But in no time at all chat rooms on any topic seemed to move from the topic to talking to each other about their lives and becoming friends with each other - and rarely the topic of the chat room. On Twitter, certain hashtags can really be about a topic (like #idol for American Idol) while others read like a personal clique. Can there finally be a way to stay on topic?!

12. Twitter users are a mighty helpful group. There is definitely a camaraderie that builds among those who use Social Media; and users are enormously helpful in explaining how to do it. I've been attending meetings for 25 years, and the volume of comments specific to my blog, or Facebook, or Twitter has seriously escalated with In Real Life (IRL) encounters/discussions with those same people. We all know a lot about each other now.

13. Decision-makers may not be on Twitter. It's possible the ones using Twitter confuse their online following volume with the volume needed to actually influence policy. There was a whole group on Twitter deeply engaged in a particular policy issue at our national association. But then most of them seemed to leave the meeting and many apparently didn't even think maybe they needed to pass on their comments and expertise to the people who had actual votes on the issue. The first rule of political engagement is learning how a bill becomes a law. If you're all talk, and leave out connecting and educating the ones who actually have the power to vote to change, then shame on you - not shame on them. And remember the person/people representing an organization on Twitter may actually not know how to convert conversation into actual organizational influence. Here's an interesting related post from Kevin Holland on how associations may also over-react to a small segment of membership on Twitter.

14. I don't like Twitter updates on Facebook. Even if Twitter comments can show up in Facebook updates, I don't know if they should. Too many @ signs and comments that appear way out of context on their own. And I definitely don't want to read the same thing twice which is what happens if friends with the same person on both Twitter and Facebook who uses that "repeat me" application.

15. If you want to check instant customer service potential, try Twitter. Some organizations/businesses have staff assigned to monitor Twitter - and they will respond exponentially quicker than calling or email. Always worth a try. I just sent a Tweet to someone who didn't answer an email request. Not sure someone can't get a Tweet the way they might not get an email.

Did I leave anything out?



Dave Lutz said...

Cindy, great post! I've also been on Twitter for a month or so. Your thoughts are very similar to what I've found. Here's a couple more:

16) Less is good. I'm not too crazy about following folks that are putting out 10 or more tweets in a day. Mostly they are retweeting articles. If you RT, make sure it is damn good and add your opinion or thoughts. Build a reputation for quality and thought leadership, not quantity.

17) I'm mostly on Twitter for business. If you want to tell me what you're having for dinner, do that on Facebook.

Pamela Grow said...

Terrific post, Cindy!

I have removed Tweets - you use the trash can icon next to the post and delete it.

While Twitter can be time-consuming, it can also be systematized to an hour or less a day.

And, whoa, you are so right about the Facebook tie-in. I've blocked the updates of all my friends using that feature - it takes up way too much space!