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In terms of using a new technology, being first out of the gates is simply not enough these days. Often, the real power of a new social media type tool or widget is muted as we collectively stumble to find ways to use it for ourselves – but sometimes get lost in the weeds. What I mean is that, as we learn about novel digital modes of communication, we often follow the path that early adopters carve out . As we all know, seeing how others use something makes our individual choice easier if we are able to see a role for it in what we do, personally or professionally. However, often we cannot see the forest from the trees because there is no unique or compelling purpose yet defined for us as individuals.
Then along comes someone who dives in head-first and manages to create a clear and purposeful experience with it and sees the role. Someone who showcases how it can be used (by reinventing/adapting) and demonstrating how it changes pieces of what we do, or could do.
I am talking specifically about Twitter as a communication tool. Twitter is an instant messaging type service that asks the simple question “What are you doing now?” and provides an interface and framework to let your audience know just that. Although signed up a short while ago, there has been so much chatter from Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble and Bryan Person that I was starting to feel guilty for not using it more.
Enter Mitch Joel and his use of Twitter (full disclosure: Mitch is President of Twist Image which is Scotiabank’s agency-of-record on the digital side and is also a good friend). Mitch has been using Twitter with a purposeful benefit to himself and his audience as a micro-blogging platform. He has been posting his thoughts, links to interesting stuff and questions to his readers using the tool. He has integrated the Twitter widget box on his blog and has been quite active on it.
As a personal branding expert, you had to know it would not take him long to see the power of it all and then spin it back to us all as the latest part of how he manages to manage his brand. After seeing it in this light you say to yourself “aha, now why didn’t I think of that?”. Now, I’m not sure if he was the first to use Twitter in this manner, but it was the first that I saw where the lights came on for me – so thanks Mitch.
So, will we all follow this example and begin our own micro-blogs? Not sure about you but I am opting out for a few reasons at this point (but I refrain from saying never). First, as a user, I see myself utilizing it’s inbound versus outbound capacity to suit my needs. Second, I have enough outlets with my blog and podcast to let the world know what is on my mind. And third, it is just another thing to keep active in the midst of everything else that is going on (as I wrote about in my post on Digital and Social Media Syndrome a short while ago).
Having said that, I like Twitter a lot more lately because I see it’s purpose through how Mitch Joel is using it. Receiving more immediate and timely (meaning to the second) information from those who I follow is a good thing. I will be paying close attention to how others are using it too, and hope that I will find newer purposes as I investigate further.
One such purpose I’ve already seen is NY Times & Twitter. Very cool.
How about you? Are twitching to get more use of Twitter or still figuring it out? Thoughts?

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