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Atwitter Over Twitter

Like many, I first approached Twitter with skepticism and trepidation. Like my first engagements with other social media, I stuck a toe in the water before jumping in further. LinkedIn and Facebook gradually gained steam, and soon became valued communications channels.

But Twitter? That was different.

I started by following a few people who seemed to have interesting things to say, and then began tweeting a little myself. Gradually, I gained followers and started to “get it”.

Twitter is a great way of perusing a vast landscape of leading experts in any profession, industry, interest or hobby. But only recently have I come to appreciate its full power: direct access to these same people and the ability to engage with them in real time.

When people are on Twitter, and by that I mean actively using it, they are receptive to the experience and open to engagement: monitoring the continuous dialog, responding to tweets and replies, direct messages, new followers, and the like. Perhaps they are also monitoring who is mentioning them and retweeting their tweets (not to mention, of course, surfing the web like never before, with tweets leading them to great content including images, video and blogs — and then leaving comments there too!). The interaction never ends!

Real power

But recently, I discovered something else. Hashtags.

By following focused Twitter content, identified by the # symbol placed before subject or group names, one can view tweets relating only to that subject matter. This helps bring order to the chatter. And when you find a group you really like, the conversation can be so persistent and intense that real connections are made — and Twitter is transformed into something much more personal.

I was lucky enough to find a great group called #UsGuys fairly early in my Twitter life. It’s a stream of quick-thinking minds from different backgrounds, chatting 24/7 (I see the term “addiction” used a lot).

Admittedly, it’s sometimes like social media with ADHD. Jumping into the busy stream can be intimidating — I was shooting for a swan dive, but probably made something more like a plunge. Never before have I seen the potential for developing real relationships, enabled by an online platform, than I have there.

Doing online to go offline

Through Facebook, I have visited with friends I haven’t seen in twenty-five years. With LinkedIn, I have setup face-to-face meetings and developed professional relationships. Now with Twitter, the net is cast further, wider and more quickly — cross-pollinating ideas, stimulating creativity, marshaling resources and galvanizing people — with potential like I have never seen before.

Further connecting is now happening on the other social media channels, as well. Face-to-face meetups are also in the works. And, ironically, this is where I think online is going: fueling our ability to establish real connections in the offline world as well.

Online converted to offline; professional to personal. I can’t wait to see where this all goes.

Article by Paul Biedermann.
Featured image copyright © 2010 Paul Biedermann, re:DESIGN.

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