April 26, 2009...10:49 pm

3 BIG ways Twitter helps me rock out

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Having access to social networks at work makes me more productive, not less. Even though it might seem like I’m only chatting with people online and watching silly videos I’m maintaining a network that helps me rock out when it matters most. Here’s how:

1. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel
Forgive the cliche, but so many people think they have to take every problem that comes their way head on. They return to their desk, make mind maps and start from scratch.

Twitter helped me realize there are no new problems and there is great value in the ability to reach out to a lot of people quickly.

Google is still great when it comes to searching for answers, but the solutions people serve up on Twitter are pre-vetted.

Sure, the answers are not all amazing, but if my employer were to cut off access to my network, I would spend a lot more time researching solutions and less time putting them into action.

I have people.

2. I don’t need “contacts” to make contact
If someone is following me, I can send them a direct message aka a private message that doesn’t post publicly.

I’ve made appointments this way, gathered support for promoting something I needed help promoting, straightened out misunderstandings, passed along and received valuable information, put out requests for a proposal, received requests for a proposal all on Twitter’s back channel without having to track down a single email address or phone number.

Oh, and it didn’t matter whether I did this on my phone or at my computer.

3. I benefit from information asymmetry
Awhile ago Chris Penn wrote a great post about how understanding World of Warcraft can make you a better marketer.

Sure, you can play World of Warcraft like most people, but downloading add-on software gives players an advantage through what Chris describes as information asymmetry. In other words, the software gives him access to more information that he uses to play the game better.

Participating in social networks like Twitter is like having add-on software for professional life.

By paying attention to this constant stream of information, I can play the professional game better. Yes, I still actively seek out plenty of information, but there’s so much I would miss if I wasn’t tapped into Twitter while simultaneously carrying out other tasks.

I’m not alone
Don’t just take my word for it – a recent scientific study from the University of Melbourne in Australia shows that workers are actually more productive when given access to social networks, not less.

For those about to rock…

I’m always looking for new ways to explain how these things benefit me so others can benefit in the same way.

How do you use Twitter, or other social networks, to rock out?

How does working for a company that blocks access hinder your ability to get the job done?

Photo by Devo(lutio)n

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  • What would we do without Twitter during the workday? Makes you wonder what we did before Twitter ;)

    Just a few of the ways Twitter helps me rock out:

    * Stokes the creative juices. I’ve gotten numerous ideas for not only personal blog posts but also professional projects through my connections on Twitter.

    * The conference mentality. If you think about Twitter as a conference (stay with me here), I learned early on if I can take one idea from each conference and implement it into my daily work life, that’s a success. Twitter’s like a conference on steroids. Really powerful, juicy, Jose Canseco-type steroids. Some days, I get as many as 4-5 ideas from my Twitterstream that I’m applying *directly* to my work life–and to the benefit of my employer.

    * My Twitter community just makes me happy. Case in point: The recent tweethathon, where a community rallied to help two of its own (Scott Hepburn and Sonny Gill). I also really just enjoy the day-to-day camaraderie with my colleagues and friends online. The convos may not always be productive in terms of work, but they keep me fresh and make me feel connected in a way that just didn’t exist for me a year ago. And isn’t my happiness and connectedness as an employee beneficial to my employer?


  • Brandon Chesnutt

    Twitter helps me rock out because it’s like having a virtual advisory board ready and waiting. If I’m looking for feedback, I can shoot out a question and check out the responses. Even better, it’s up to me if I want to share it with everyone (with an @ or just in the stream) or privately with a select few (DM).


  • It’s the most effective channel we have for communicating with our customers and prospects. Incredibly valuable for promotions, customer service, market research and product management. We get near near real-time feedback from our customers, which surfaces bugs faster, shows us what customers like/don’t like, identifies usability issues, etc. And it gives us an opportunity to respond while the user is in the moment, which not only increases the chances that we’ll make them happy (and turn them into promoters), we also benefit from the fact that all their followers get to see how we treat our customers….great for lead gen, and it’s completely organic.

  • I have used Twitter similarly to the ways you have described. GM Blogs helped me with a project for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) by tweeting about where to find a 1950s pic of a Cadillac.

    To me Twitter is about making connections, learning from other people in chats such as Blog Chat on Sundays, Journchat on Monday nights, and then Editorchat on Wednesdays. I always learn something or gain information.

    I see Twitter as another form of communication and I don’t think blocking it would be good for an organization. What if an engineer had a problem with finding a solution and he used all possible ways of finding out what the answer could be? He had been working on this forever and ever and hit a brick wall.

    He could tweet I am having this problem and maybe another engineer could help him solve it. This is about collaboration the new way of communication where you work with your neighbor instead of against them.

  • You Rawk!!!

  • Twitter prevents me from feeling incapable of pursuing my dreams. Before I joined Twitter I knew what I wanted to do with my life, but I felt overwhelmed with what it would take to get there. Now I am building connections with people who are there, and it inspires me to keep going.

    • TL,

      That’s pretty powerful stuff. I’m so glad you’re able to connect with people who inspire you to keep your head up. I know I’ve been there, too. I struggled with choosing a path for a long time.

      Thanks for reminding us that the power of connecting with others goes deeper than simply helping us be more productive.

      • Thank you thank you! I’ve been walking barefoot on an unpaved road for a while. It is so exciting to feel like I am headed for smoother terrain.


  • My ex employer blocked us from social networks like MySpace and Facebook. As a marketer who had been proposing SM strategies using these tools, no one obviously was listening. Luckily they missed blocking Twitter.

    It’s so true, real-time answers and reaching out to your “people” is so much more productive and valuable then reinventing the wheel.

    I’m hoping organizations will have an “aha moment” on the importance of using these tools because it will certainly benefit them.

  • The problem is, the policy-making geniuses at most companies focus on the lowest common denominator, whether they are creating social media policies for employees, or service policies for customers. They go through all kinds of elaborate schemes to “protect” themselves from possible abuse, and in the same motion, cut off all kinds of potential benefits. Tunnel vision. Small thinking. Cover-your-ass mentality.

  • Twitter has heightened and expanded my perspective, while simultaneously separating the wheat from chaff. Through the people I follow I have closed deals, discovered resources and, perhaps most significantly, been set upon paths of making a difference.

    Twitter is what life at its best should be- giving, taking and becoming more than you were.

  • Twitter is definitely a valuable tool :) for any small business to have. I have seen some ingenious ways to use Twitter — and most of them are really about saving time in the long run. Yes, some people might use it as a way to kill time, but that doesn’t mean others can’t use it effectively. The practical limitations for using Twitter? …Well, really, it’s only limited by your imagination!

    Thanks for sharing these ideas.

  • Fortunately, I’ve not worked for a company who blocked Twitter or any of the socnets. For those who do, I’m curious why. If the foundation of business is relationships, why would you cut off a resource that helps you build just that?

    I’ve learned so much from the people that have come and gone in my life and thanks to twitter, that is magnified ten fold. It is amazing how easily one can get to know someone through 140 characters, and build lasting meaningful relationships. That’s how Twitter has helped me rock!

    Now I must find my AC/DC records!

  • Twitter pre-screens my online reading and helps me find valuable content I would otherwise have missed. I get some great ideas, new ways to think about things, and humorous stuff suggested by those I follow. This has greatly expanded my horizons.

  • Love Twitter…ultimate research tool for me. In terms of career development, best practices and finding new and valuable information, I can do no better then the current Twitter environment.

    Love having Tweetdeck open while going through my everyday schedule…makes the work day go faster and I end up learning more.

  • Twitter helps me connect with people in real time. Whether it’s deciding where the party is at SXSW or gathering research for an idea or helping someone figure out a problem or sharing amazing content with others.

    Twitter extends reach. What better way to rock out? :)

  • I agree with TL, Twitter has helped make my goals an aspirations reachable. I’ve been able to network and learn from some of the biggest PR pros out there, not to mention talk to fellow graduates. It’s completely revitalized my job search, and I no longer feel helpless!

  • Blocking access to Twitter and other social networks /definitely/ inhibits an employee’s ability to be effective.

    Blocking Twitter and other social networks is about limiting risk and liability… all employees are a liability… the question is to what degree?

    There are arguments for and against open communication into and out of an organization. The more leadership understands the risks/rewards of social media, the more likely we’ll be able to access the information we need when we need it.

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  • M. DiLorenzo

    This post is like a great big “boss” button! I think I shall reblog it.

  • Clinton Skakun

    Number two caught my attention. You don’t need contacts to make contact. That’s one thing I like about Twitter also. To make friends you need to communicate. To make a friend on another social site, like FaceBook, you need to add a person as a friend. On Twitter everyone is just one tweet away from being contacted, which in my opinion is how it should be.


  • Changa Gorham

    With me being a true social media fan and believing in the medium as a bonus to my marketing, this blog helps peolple see the benefits and force of social media.

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