I have to admit, after reading Understanding Twitter, that I didn’t get it either. When I logged on for the first time last week, though, The Content Wrangler, Scott Abel, had already put my email address in as someone allowed to voyeur-in on him. So I did. And I like the way he uses it. It defies the “navel-gazing” description that some give Twitter.
Scott’s twittering is helping me get it. Here’s why. Take a look at some of his entries, such as this one: “The Twitter message only had one word, ‘Arrested’,” which referred to a recent CNN story about a young man who freed himself from an Egyptian jail with a one-word post sent from his cell phone. As a matter of fact, even CNN is Twittering (as Scott also points out). This is the kind of information sharing I’m interested in—and will likely stay tuned for.
As I started playing around with Twitter, my mind became a jumble of ideas thinking about all the possible ways a tool like this could be used in business or education. I see where companies like Comcast, are using Twitter to feed outage updates and other customer service information to customers. (Too bad they can’t tweet me the new PIN that’s required to access my account information I’ve been trying to get for a month.) And you might have to forgive the hokey “Comcast Cares” logo floating around on the page, but they must care—at least a little—if they are trying new tools to reach customers.
Most of what I’ve read about Twitter discusses using the tool to communicate to outside customers, but other than that, couldn’t Twitter be used for internal communications? Could collaborators on a single project tweet one another to give status updates? Legal might tweet Communications, “Signed off on CEO quote about how the IRS sucks,” implying that a press release is ready for the next step in the process.
With a tool like this, managers could keep an eye on the progress of team projects, see where things get stalled, and even tweet the team with information as basic as, “So and so is out today. Pls move this forward and circle back to him tomorrow.” You don’t need more than 140 characters to say that. Mash it with a wiki and you have a free system that allows you to communicate with followers, contribute content, and keep an eye on the whole process to boot. This seems much simpler to me than the typical check-in-check-out-and-email content management tools we’ve all grown accustomed to.
I see this working in the classroom, too. Students, who previously used clunky message boards to collaborate, could use Twitter to tweet each other about a project. “Gerbil seems nervous on diet of Red Bull and Skittles. Switching back to gerbil feed tomorrow,” and document the whole process for everyone—including teachers—to see.
So, I guess I’m starting to get it a bit more, but like so many other new tools, it’s gonna take me some time to realize its full impact on my life and my work. I’d like to hear how others may be using Twitter for internal communications. In the meantime, I think I’ll check out what Scott’s doing right now.