Twitter for the Common Man

Thanks to our friend, Matt, a local web geek and freelancer,
E and I have been using Twitter. I have one account for me and another for AYW (because I immediately saw business purposes for the service). Our brother-in-law, Roy, has an account as do several of our “geekier” friends.[1]

Twitter is designed to answer the question “What are you doing?” and can give you great insight to your friends[2]. It’s amazing all the little details you learn about someone from following their “tweets”. Common Craft has a great video that really explains Twitter

I’ve found that I want others—who aren’t regular Twitter users—to become join in the fun. I want the same information from them that I get from those I do follow. So, I wanted to come up with some Real. Live. Examples. of good uses of Twitter.

Scenario #1

You have made plans to go to lunch with colleagues. You’ve chatted by email all week and finally settled on a place. You are the first one there and find out that the restaurant closed early. Now, if they are close enough friends that you have all of them in your phone, you can begin the process of a call tree and call all the ones you can remember asking each of them to call one or two others you remember on the “attending” list. You might catch everyone. Or, if you are like most professionals, the phone numbers of these people are in your computer at work and you are stranded.
Now, if you are all following one another on Twitter, you can send one message “out there” and tell everyone in 140 characters or less. It takes just a few seconds and everyone knows right away.

Margarita Rocks is closed. We’re meeting at Fuddrucker’s instead.

Scenario #2

You have good news to share with the world. Let’s say your wife just gave birth to your first child. You want everyone to know as quickly as possible. If you were to Tweet this good news, it will alert all the members who follow you. It can also update your facebook status and can even post the information on several websites, including Plaxo. This would be the fastest way to get your 140character message out to your social network.

Baby boy Joe Jr. born 3/12/08 8:54am 9#4oz 22″ Mom and baby both fine.

Bonus: You don’t get blame for telling “her” before you told “me”. 

Scenario #3

Code Maroon is

…an emergency notification service that gives Texas A&M the ability to communicate health and safety emergency information quickly—by email and text message. By enrolling in Code Maroon, university officials can quickly pass on safety-related information, regardless of your location.

In the wake of the recent shootings on college campuses, many universities are implementing emergency notification systems. This is a good idea, but what if you don’t belong to a particular organization with this service? Or, what if the emergency is for your community?

Tweets can be tagged. If you track the tag (keyword), you’ll get the information, even if you don’t normally follow the person who sends it.

(I track “bcs” and get a lot of information about both Bryan College Station and the Bowl Championship Series. During the San Diego Fires, a couple of social media geeks used these tags to keep others informed.)

If I see a big accident on the highway, I Tweet the location so that others in this area can avoid that road/intersection.

Big accidentin #bcs at Texas and Villa Maria. Traffic detoured east.

There are many “real life” applications for Twitter that aren’t just for the geeks in our community.

Of course some of the best stories come from conferences where audience members (all geeks of course) have been known to expound upon how bad the speaker is[3] or user their common knowledge to heckle the interviewer. Because so many of them were using a common system, they felt the vibe of unity. At one point someone said, “if you are in the [this] session, raise your hand.” Most of the audience did. What would the session have been like if the presenters had engaged this audience of experts instead of treating them like the “dumb” audience they were used to at non-geek professional conferences?

So, if you want to really get to know your family, friends, colleagues, peers, and competition, you should be on Twitter.

[1] As with most Internet “toys”, geeks are the early adopters.

[2] Like virtually all things Internet, you need to use care and caution with what you say when. While “tweets” can be kept private, the intent and purpose is to publicly broadcast whatever is on your mind at the moment.

[3] One group even protested the presentation.

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