Twitter: believe the hype! PDF Print E-mail

Recently, highly regarded writer Malcolm Gladwell put out a straw man that attacked Twitter's ability to coalesce the masses for social activism. 

His argument was rebuked by many respected journalists around the world.

From my viewpoint, I feel Gladwell misses the point. Technology doesn't replace humanness.  It can only turbo charge what real humans do.  We are not social because of social media.  We are social because it is innate for humans to be social.  
 
Respected intellectual Desmond Morris postulated this in his book The Naked Ape.  His theory states that from the dawn of humanity, we coalesced into groups as a way to protect ourselves in a very Darwinian way, as a means to increase out chances of survival.  Going head to head with the many predators that existed back then would have meant humans had to group together to fight, hunt and forage for better results.
 
Working within a group calls for social skills, and this ability to cooperate as social beings is an essential part of our success story as a species. It is important to keep this in mind when thinking about The Social Web.
 
That Gladwell has taken Social Media as a subject and has generated this debate is very interesting.  Social Media is evidently a phenomenon worth serious investigation and reflection.
 
As South African thinker Alistair Fairweather recently wrote, "whatever his (Gladwell’s) standpoint may be, it’s encouraging to have a thinker of Gladwell’s stature grappling with social media".
 
Twitter is certainly not a solution to world poverty.  But it is an extremely powerful tool for anyone with some message worth sharing.  If you care about your business and its brand then you need to understand how to use this tool to best effect. to get your message out there.
 
Mitch Kapor was right when he said, "getting information off the Internet is like drinking from a fire hydrant".  Internet citizens are increasingly in need of filters to extract value from this information torrent.  Ignoring it is not a solution.  Twitter for me is one of the best tools suited to the job of filtering information coming off the Internet.
 
Twitter has replaced my RSS feed (another useful filter that aggregates information from sites one deems important into a single platform).  It allows many of the great thinkers on this planet and in this country to pass on great articles, powerful insights and witty bon mots.
 
Names such as Bill Gates (philanthropy), Steve Pink (motivation), John Maeda (Design), Pete Cashmore (Web), Stephen Fry (Intellectual), grace my follow list. I am privileged to have a direct line to their most recent reflections on life, their work, their pet passions.  It is not all serious.  There are som extremely funny people on Twitter that work to soften the edges, my most popular being Justin Halpern.
 
At the start of my Twitter life, I spent a lot of time ensuring I "followed" the right people, but now it is just basic hygiene of cleaning out people who become noisy.  For me, it is critical that I have a high signal to noise ratio (SNR).  The greater the pollution in my Twitter stream, the less useful it becomes.  This is the most important factor in making twitter powerful.
 
Ideally I believe you should limit the amount of people you follow to 300 or less - any more and your  Twitter stream becomes too noisy and the quality and usefulness of the channel depreciates.  At times business and social politics influence people you follow and that might push the amount of people you follow out and cause your stream to pollute.  Twitter has a "lists" function that allows you to segment the people you follow into groups.  I have only one list, "Signal" for the people that send out the highest quality content.  When I am very busy, it is the only thing I read religiously.
 
As far as your business and brand goes, you need to be listening to what people are saying about your brand.  This is becoming important enough that people are writing about Listenomics and employing Chief Listening Officers.  Not only does it provide one of the most effective customer service tools, it can also provide valuable customer insights.  
 
To get the best out of Twitter I always recommend people download a Twitter application.  For me, this application is TweetDeck– it works well on my Mac and Android phone and on an iPhone too, apparently.  Integration is seamless between devices.  I also post to Facebook and Linkedin from this application, so it makes my interaction with the Social Web a breeze.
 
See you on Twitter.
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