Yes I do them both.
Day after day, I run into people who look at me funny when I start talking about social media tools. “Don’t you have better things to do? What is twitter good for, you are just wasting your time. I don’t understand it.”
I tell people it is about personal learning and knowledge sharing. It is about being part of a collective where you interact with people you otherwise don’t know. It is about engaging with colleagues and staying in touch with the pulse of your company, and used correctly it can also reduce email! Like blogging, microblogging is a great communication tool, even better maybe because you are posting quick messages for followers to read, and they can decide in less than a tenth of a second if it is of value to them. It is the distributed office water cooler.
Luis Suarez posted a great article awhile back on the benefits of micro blogging. I am going to share some of my favourite points here.
- Questions and Answers: Probably one of the most popular use cases for enterprise microsharing; give people an opportunity to ask questions and get answers. If I have a question I need an answer for, there is a great chance I will go and ask my personal network first, before going elsewhere. And that’s exactly what enterprise microsharing enables knowledge workers to do. Regardless of where you may be.
- Informal Learning: Through the sharing of expertise across the board as well as links to other relevant content that other fellow knowledge workers would benefit from as additional reading. Right there, while they are at their jobs! On the spot, without having to go anywhere else and with their work context intact. Part of their work flow. Always learning new stuff by exposing yourself out there to all sorts of interesting resources, links and, above all, conversations.
- Knowledge Discoveries: or rediscovering new value by chance, which is another nice way of putting it. “Cool, I always wanted to know that! (I have experienced this time and time again through microsharing tools like Twitter)
- Find Experts: This is an easy use case for everyone out there; instead of hiding yourself away behind your Inbox, where no-one can see you and therefore everyone thinks you don’t have anything better to do than answering their queries, how about leaving your hide-out space, go out there in the open, start microsharing your knowledge and through narrating your work help raise the right level of expectations on how you could accommodate interruptions and handle them accordingly. In a way, experts are scared that they will get overwhelmed with queries, but, in reality, this is further from the truth! If they keep sharing and narrating what they do, they are already generating the right level of expectations of how and when they will be handling interruptions. Basically, if those seeking answers see how those experts are busy doing something else, there is a tendency they will respect that and go ahead and do something else waiting for their turn. Believe me, it works.
- Help and Support for Technical Problems: Where knowledge workers can ask questions and help each other on how to improve their respective overall productivity, knowledge sharing and collaboration tools suite. Much along the lines of getting answers for the typical “How Do I…?” type of interactions.
- Announcements, News Items: Create an awareness with broadcasting messages, news items or major announcements that are going around you, instead of sending an email with those items. Ideal for top down, cascaded / forwarded emails no-one likes to receive! (Yes, I know, the ones you don’t even read anymore!)
- Knowledge Sharing out in the Open: that way we transition from private by default to public by default and allow knowledge workers, through real-time search engines, re-find and re-use the content they would need, much faster, much easier and much more immediate. Right there, right then.
- Personal Branding: Yes, I know most businesses may not feel comfortable with personal branding, but it is there. It’s your people. It’s your business. It’s your corporate brand. Your people are your brand. So microsharing will help them merge successfully both the personal and corporate brands into a stronger entity, one that can speak for you out there in the thousands and in short, but rather effective, chunks! Very easy to consume and digest, too!
I love the realization in people who start to use twitter – “I never got it until I started using it, now I understand!” (Still waiting for that to happen in the office…). And when you start, don’t try too hard – pick some people and organizations to follow, and if you come across something on the web that you find interesting (like this blog!) then tweet about it. I live in London, Ontario, and even in London, I can follow local tweets for news, sports, traffic, events around the city, as well as friends and others that I have connected with online. Your number of followers doesn’t matter, start by joining the party and consuming what others are saying. Mashable posted a great resource on twitter, and on the lighter side check out this video from the guys who should have used Lotus Connections (Great series on enterprise social computing). And then follow me on twitter!