To Tweet or Not to Tweet, That is the Question

The discussion in the board meeting about the usefulness of Twitter was like a ping pong ball–it’s useful, it’s a time waster. Back and forth it went. But it was a moving feast of discussion, not merely a predictable debate with no resolution.

It’s clear most of us don’t want to know when someone just stepped out of the shower. But we are interested in ideas, links and helpful suggestions about myriad subjects. In fact, some are using Twitter for this purpose and are creating "knowledge communities." Others haven’t found it worthwhile and have let their Twitter accounts go idle.

In an article a few weeks ago NY Times technology writer David Pogue wrote about an experiment in which he posted a question on Twitter (How do you cure hiccups?) as he spoke to a trade group. He received his first response in 15 seconds and they continued for several minutes. The primitive experiment was an illustration of an instantly available knowledge community.

In our meeting we used Twitter to capture short, key points we thought worth flagging for later discussion and expanded consideration. Subjects can be identified with a hashtag # and title. For example, #title can be accessed at and all the posts related to the #title will display. Already, however, some Twitter users are complaining that overuse is making the search tool less useful.

The blog Wardman Wire discusses a the use of Twitter as a virtual meeting tool.

We also used Facebook to share ideas and capture points for later processing and discussion. Everyone had a netbook or laptop and could participate. A website for our Commission has been created for online communication about the issues, strategies and key communication concerns identified at the meeting.

It’s too early to know if this style will prevail and how valuable it will be in the long run. Most likely, it will serve a purpose under specific circumstances and be less useful in others. But the introduction of social media to the conversation about how to reach out to new people was fruitful and will be informed by this experience regardless.

More tomorrow.

9 Responses to “To Tweet or Not to Tweet, That is the Question”

  1. Poonam March 5, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    Agree on using Twitter to build and support knowledge communities. Just tweeted a question on how to get rid of ads in new hotmail. Hoping to get a few responses.

    • Larry March 5, 2009 at 9:45 am #

      Pogue makes a point about the number of followers you have affecting the speed of response. The more followers, the larger the “knowledge community.” I put a question to everyone recently and got an answer back in a few hours. And it was a good answer. So, it works.

  2. Matt Wardman March 5, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Could I draw your attention to a new blog I started last week specifically about Twitter, Twexpert.

    The latest article is about how you can track clicks on links you twitter in real time.

    And Twitter is also an excellent article for people to respond to blog posts, as I am finding out to my cost this afternoon.



    • Larry March 5, 2009 at 11:16 am #

      Good tool. Thanks for posting it here.

  3. gavin richardson March 5, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    larry, the nature of twitter being a mobile communicant is missed in some of your thoughts. twitter might not last, but the idea will continue.

    if you listen to len sweet’s reasoning why he’s on twitter (highlighted in his napkin scribbles podcast) there is worth in the ‘crossing of the town green’

    the knowledge community is there, but it has to be cultivated. you need to give back what you expect or hope to get out. people think these as tools, but they are relational & need to be cultivated.

    are you attending podcamp nashville this weekend. you probably should if you are entertaining all this social media stuff for the umcom.

    • Larry March 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

      Hi Gavin,
      You’re correct about me missing some of the nature of Twitter. Frankly, until the last few days I’ve not seen how it could be used meaningfully. I’m not a “digital native.” Digital immigrants don’t take to these media as naturally as natives. So, you’re on target. You also point to a key, critical issue that a young adult panel made in a presentation to our Commission–that the tools are relational and need to be cultivated. That’s what’s most important, intriguing and exciting to me.
      Thanks for your comment. I’ll check out the podcamp this weekend. Haven’t been aware of it until you wrote. Thanks for that, as well.

  4. Greg March 5, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    Now Twitter gives me one more “Input Channel,” more source of thought and idea. One more source of guilt at the things I’m not paying attention to. So I have the choice of reviewing ideas that might allow me to do my job better or make my life something new, or just trying to get my job done and live my life. Twitter usually loses out on the choice.

  5. gavin richardson March 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    i am teaching a session on spirituality in social media in the first morning session. if you can’t make it’d be happy to meet up sometime to chat about all of these things. i’m not a native. i steal the term translator. and as such, i could be classified as an early adopter.

  6. Larry March 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    Doing your job and living your life? Where are your priorities man?


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