My Introduction to Twitter
I first heard of Twitter back in early to mid 2007. Here’s what it looked like then.
I looked at the homepage and studied it curiously. “What am I doing? I thought to myself…well, surfing the internet. I’m not sure what value sharing that adds to anyone. And who’s looking at this by the way? I’ve got a family I need to protect.”
I concluded: “Nope. No value here. Maybe I’ll check it out again in a few months.”
I had maybe 2 or 3 similar experiences over the next 6 months. I was intrigued, but still felt that I had better things to do. Quite frankly, at the time, it seemed like the domain of dorks and geeks to me. Shel Israel provides fascinating history and anecdotes about the early days of Twitter in his book “Twitterville”
I finally gave in and signed up for an account in late 2007. I found a few of my existing friends and followed them. Most of their tweet streams looked like mine. “Trying this thing out…just got home from work…”, things of that nature. I was beginning to see the value potential, though. There just wasn’t quite critical mass there yet, or so I thought. I just hadn’t learned to listen yet.
By that time, guys like Jeremiah Owyang had already figured Twitter out. By November 2007, he had already created his version of this post.
Fast forward to 2008, and I finally had made my first tweet. How’s that for impressive and engaging?
The lightbulb moment
In late 2008, I took a short drive up to Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, their managers, and the kind folks at 19 Entertainment (creators of American Idol) had graciously donated some auction items to International Princess Project for a fall event we had had. I was dropping off some Punjammies and a personal thank you note. A BIG SHOUT OUT to @adamecourt for making that happen!
(By the way, if you need some last minute Christmas presents and/or want to support a great cause making a huge difference in the lives of some of the most marginalized people on the planet, visit http://www.punjammies.com).
Down the street, also on legendary Sunset Blvd, longtime friend of mine, Elliot Loh, was leading a team of developers at Geni.com and that same group had also created what would become Yammer. He explained to me why they created it and how it benefited them. Knowing what everyone inside their walls were working on helped them to work more collaboratively as a team. It made sense. I don’t remember the quote, but he said something like this: “It’s kind of like watching TV. It’s on in the background, so I know what everyone is working on. If I have something to add or if I need some help, I’ll interject.”
Something clicked at that point for me. I began spending a little more time on Twitter, mostly listening. Separately, I began seriously considering the impact that Social Media would have on business. Specifically, I saw it having direct implications on one of my personal areas of interest and expertise: CRM – Customer Relationship Management. I saw a collision course coming, but didn’t quite know how it would play out.
The Accidental Community is formed
I turned to Twitter (and other sources), and found a small group of like minded individuals from around the globe exploring the same thoughts and ideas. A hashtag had been created by early Social CRM pioneer, Brent Leary. A guy named Prem Kumar Aparanji seemed to never sleep, relentlessly stoking the #scrm fire. An accidental community was formed. An incomplete and growing list of some of these great folks can be found here.
2009 has been a fun ride.
Here are a few things that I’ve discovered about Twitter along the way:
Twitter is the world’s greatest networking environment
I’ve “met” an incredible amount of people through Twitter. Many of these interactions have transitioned to other channels of communication: phone, email, face to face.
Without Twitter, I likely only would have met these people by chance. Twitter gave me the chance to listen to the whole world at one time, filtering global chatter by keywords I was interested in. It is never closed, and anyone can come and go as they please.
Twitter is the world’s best learning environment
If you want to learn, there is no better place. There are people offering valuable information on an infinite amount of topics. Yes, you have to learn how to filter, but once you do, there is a ton out there. The difference between just learning on the web as we have known it previously is that now in many cases, you have direct and immediate access to the creators of the content you learned from. Which leads me into my next point;
– Twitter is a “people sampler”
You can learn a little bit about a lot of people. You can see how they interact. This means that you get a small glimpse of a person through their Twitter interactions. Some you’ll desire to engage with more. Some you’ll pass on. This can be both good and bad.
– Can negatively affect your mature relationships
The ironic thing is that too much time spent on Twitter can negatively affect your mature, existing relationships. The more time one spends on Twitter is time not spent face to face with someone else. Has Twitter helped my marriage? Likely not. Be warned and be wise.
– Can become addicting if you don’t guard your time
The allure of the first two points are pretty attractive for those who are out to conquer the world. The world has never been so accessible. Many of my Twitter friends speak about increased levels of ADD, regretfully pushing high priority items to the back burner, and having to pull themselves away to “go get real work done”. Of course I never struggle with any of these things. (I’m just writing this while my task list is a mile long and Christmas is a few days away).
“Yes, honey, just a couple more minutes…” Sorry friends, but with that, I’ve got to go.