Why Twitter?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Background

You may be wondering what Twitter has to do with lean or anything even related to manufacturing.  While there may not be a direct correlation to Twitter, the fact that it is still relatively new gave me cause to reflect on what it means to introduce a new system or way of doing things in our organization.  I’m going to share what I learned and why I finally decided to join Twitter.

I find that analogies, like business novels, put everyone on the same page and collectively we are more likely to arrive at the same conclusion when we follow a common model.  In this case I am assuming that almost everyone is at least aware of Twitter and maybe after reading this will also become part of the Twitter community, also known as the twitterverse.

First Impressions

For the longest time I wondered what could be so exciting about Twitter.  In fact, I originally rendered it to be  just another internet craze that was sure to fade away.  Well that didn’t happen and as Twitter gained in popularity I became even more intrigued.  Admittedly I visited the Twitter.com website quite some time ago and my first impression was that Twitter is nothing more than an internet-sized chat room.

I also wondered how Twitter was supported since it is free to use and there is no advertising engine that intervenes with your messages – remember the original “free” e-mail or websites where advertising was added automatically.

Another restriction is that messages can only be 140 characters long.  How much can you possibly accomplish with such limited space?

And finally, I wondered how it was possible to manage the 1000’s of messages that could potentially be published on any day at any given time.

Resources

As with every decision there are two choices, Take it or Leave it.  Of course I could have dismissed Twitter to be nothing more than a distraction and decide to ignore it or, I could least try to understand what Twitter was all about and learn to appreciate why people are so excited about it.  My decision to learn more about Twitter was driven by it’s continued persistence, support, and accessibility through many of the applications that I am presently using.  Almost magically, Twitter buttons started to appear on web sites and blogs (much like this one) that allow you to instantly share information with other people in your network with a simple click.

I decided to Google the term “twitter” to see what I could learn from the top hits.  I also went to the public library and paid a visit to the local book store to see what tangible information was available.  The library had a number of books that served to whet my appetite for more.  I finally purchased a copy of twitter power 2.0 – How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a time – by Joel Comm.  Even if I used my iRewards card at the book store, I discovered that I could get a better deal at Amazon.  The retail price at the book store, before my iRewards discount, was $19.95 CDN / $16.95 US compared to Amazon’s price of $9.97 at the time of this writing.

Informed Decision

The book “twitter power” is equally relevant for beginner, novice, and more accomplished twitter users alike.  I learned that Twitter really is a simple communication tool that can help us in a variety of different ways:

  1. Twitter messages can be viewed as “headlines” or announcements that let your followers know what is going on in real time.
  2. Twitter messages can contain links to your or other websites.
  3. The limited message length keeps them focused on single topic (usually)
  4. Twitter can also serve as a two-way communication “chat” tool.
  5. Twitter enables you to access a wealth of potential experts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  6. Twitter is accessible through your mobile phone.
  7. Communication is instantaneous, life as it happens in real-time.
  8. You can use the search bar to find discussions or sources for specific topics of interest.
  9. You can ask for help and possibly receive an instant response from anyone around the globe (the book references some great examples of life saving help).
  10. Twitter is all about networking and connecting with people first and foremost.
  11. Twitter makes it extremely easy to grow your network by offering recommendations for people to follow
  12. Twitter provides a means to stay connected with the real world of life and business at the same time.
  13. It can be used as a tool to help generate earnings for any Internet Marketer.
  14. Provides a means to find and interact directly with other entrepreneurs in your field.
  15. Current topics that are trending  in twitter are constantly updated  in real-time.
  16. #HashTags can be used to mark or search for unique messages.
  17. The Application Program Interface (API) is documented and allows third party vendors to develop applications.
  18. Third party sites exist that provide additional functionality to Twitter’s limited tool set (http://www.twitpic.com/http://search.twitter.com/)
  19. You can use twitter to offer support for your business or service.
  20. Restrictive account access is possible that allows you to set up exclusive access to messages.
  21. You can even send pictures and view them on http://www.twitpic.com/

I selected “twitter power 2.0” as it covers all aspects of twitter from introduction to setting up your twitter page to ultimately learning how to use it with practical examples.  Other complementary support sites for twitter are also discussed.  I became a student of the twitter world and learned all I could about this simple, yet very powerful application.  The book has 260 pages so it took me a few days to get through it the first time.  It is not my intent to discuss the ins and outs of twitter in this post.  I would rather leave that task to Joel Comm, the author of the book.

Results

Twitter had much more to offer than I had first suspected and when I was duly informed, I decided to join.  Although I have only been active on Twitter for a very short period of time, I have been able to connect with people around the world.  I recall helping a person in Australia to resolve a customized formula for Excel, offering statistics advice to another person in the US, and helping yet another person in Canada with a research project.

The number of followers increases every day.  I have also learned that the Hash Tag #FF means FollowFriday and is sure to increase the number of people that follow you.  I have noticed a marked increase in the number of subscribers and visitors to our site as well as the number of files that have been downloaded from our Free Downloads page.  Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool even in the short period of time that I have been using it.

Conclusion:

So how does this apply to lean?  Although I am usually excited and optimistic about the latest and greatest technologies available there have been occasions where the return on learning time simply was not there.  Hopefully you recognized that my initial response to Twitter is likely very similar to how our employees respond to a NEW or different way of doing things.

We not only need to inform our teams of the direction we plan to take, we also need to make sure we provide an ample list of reasons for doing so accompanied by appropriate hands-on training to assure success.  A lot of companies are known to have their “flavor of the month” or “program of the day” where employees have learned to “tolerate” the new direction until management decides it’s not working as intended.

I contend that once employees understand why and how to execute the new strategy successfully, they will not only embrace it but find even more ways to improve it.  You will note that we also cited a few of the many available metrics that allowed me to confirm the impact and effectiveness of twitter.  It is equally important to provide our employees with meaningful metrics that demonstrate the desired achievements by using the NEW system or methods.

Perhaps the most notable of all is that twitter provides new learning opportunities every day.  I have been meeting some terrific new people through twitter who have already proven their value to the world and lean practices.  As collaboration and co-creation are gaining increasing support as a viable business model, twitter becomes a natural extension to this new environment.

It is also worth noting that twitter is being integrated into applications that I am already using.  For example, if you are signed up for twitter, it is a simple matter of clicking the twitter button below this post and sending the tweet to your network.  From my perspective, the most powerful features of twitter are:

  1. Simplicity – easy to use, quick learning curve.
  2. Information sharing with just a few simple clicks.
  3. Networking:  Access to real people in real time all the time – 24/7

You can follow me on twitter @versalytics

You can also visit our Twitter page that offers more information, resources, and free services to enhance your Twitter experience.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

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