Getting Over Your Jitters @ Twitter

With the sustained explosive growth in the use of Twitter, it seems we can’t just view it as a fad that will pass soon.   According to a study by Edison Research:

·         Awareness of Twitter has exploded from 5% of Americans 12+ in 2008 to 87% in 2010 (by comparison, Facebook’s awareness is 88%)

·         51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks

It’s going to be difficult if not impossible to develop a credible and effective organizational strategy that uses Twitter until we can, as individual leaders get over our jitters about Twitter.

I just had a conversation with someone about the importance and difficulty in exemplifying the principles of Open Government but, I have to admit, I just blocked my first person on Twitter.  This made me question the sincerity of my own advice.  But, the paradox just shows the leadership challenges that surround the usage of social media in organizations.

Charlene Li, in her book Open Leadership describes the difficulty:

“It isn’t enough to be a good communicator.  You must be comfortable sharing personal perspectives and feelings to develop closer relationships.  Negative online comments can’t be avoided or ignored.  Instead, you must come to embrace each openness-enabled encounter as an opportunity to learn.”

I drew the line with comfortable information sharing and developing closer relationships when someone (who I blocked) crossed my invisible line by wanting to become a fritter (a friend on Twitter).  While I do believe that sharing personal information can help develop relationships, I feel that true personal friendships require more than 140 characters per interaction.  Furthermore, communications in this media are only an @ away from sharing information from 2,243 of my closest friends.

Nevertheless, Twitter provides a powerful way of adding richness to conversations and interactions.  This Washington Post article by Susan Kinzie discusses usage of Twitter in higher education.  Professors are using Twitter to extend the academic conversation beyond the classroom.  Furthermore, students can be more engaged and benefit from ongoing Socratic dialog. 

Gartner analyst, Michael Maoz suggests an increase in the effective usage of Twitter in customer service.  There are many ideas developing which will spawn new tools for early adopters that will be valuable for customer service.  So, get over your jitters and watch the early adopters, there’s a strong potential for significant benefit.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA

5 thoughts on “Getting Over Your Jitters @ Twitter”

  1. You are quite right, Ms Linda Cureton. Twitter is a useful tool. Creates bonds of sympathy on specific issues and perspectives. Groups are created alike. You find the topic you like and those that enjoy the same subject. And the information is abundant. I also do not believe that friendships can be realized without an appreciable contact between people, a smile of approval. The Internet is cold and silent, static and has no smell. But it does not create friendships, creates a “sub-relation” of comradeship. In the use of these media must be ready for several “types” with whom we must learn to live with, teach and learn, to preserve civility. Ignore the unwanted without an attempt to transform it is the path to ignore everyone in the world, after all, we all have flaws. And it’s smart to be prepared to determine the critical parts that improve you. Now, it is natural for people to seek new colleagues, (for perhaps one day become friends) and share experiences and receive favors. I use twitter because I need help, information. I could not yet, but I try. So, Ms Linda Cureton, do not turn me into frying. Please.

  2. With Twitter (I’m @rikerjoe) over the last 3 years I’ve added to my network to encompass others at NASA I would not have met otherwise. Moreover, I’ve greatly expanded my network to add fellow thought leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs through whom I learned ideas and concepts I would not have learned through our standard training programs. The dividends are paying off in my work for NASA, and isn’t that reason enough to consider my time on Twitter as a fabulous return on investment? I do. As an Agency we’re on the right track with our Twitter presence, starting with @NASA and encompassing our robotic explorers and astronauts who tweet. Expanding it further for learning and networking (as I have) or for participatory education are examples of potential opportunities we need to grasp. Imagine the possibilities….

  3. Great post. I have been hesitant to talk about NASA on my twitter ID @ajmanik but I did post some tweets about Bobby Braun’s town hall here at GRC last week. Now I wonder if I perhaps jumped the gun. Hopefully we get some clarity on this going forward. New tech, new adjustments 🙂

  4. Hi,

    Nice post Linda. It’s great to see leadership being open and responding to questions regarding the forward movement of social media and open government at #NASA. The best social media policy an organization can adopt… “blog smart.” Period. Simple and to the point. Whether personal or professional.

    See you around the Twitterverse!


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