Can Social Media have Soul? Introducing Twitter…

If you’ve never heard of Twitter…

or you’re wondering what all the fuss is about…

or you think it’s the ugliest thing on Earth…

This article is especially for you :)

The other day I introduced a client to Twitter.

She’s not generation X or Y. She’s actually more mature than that :)… But she has recently started managing her own wordpress website, has taken blogging in her stride and has even ventured onto Facebook. So I figured Twitter would be the next logical step…

I figured wrong. She freaked!

Not just a little bit. She had, like, an allergic reaction. Said things like: “I can’t bear the site of it! It doesn’t make any sense… And it’s so ugly! They are not even talking proper English… I’d rather die than have to use this!”

As our session came to a close, I was starting to feel like you could scrape me off the floor with a fork. She had trusted me. She had paid me. And for that, she had just received an hour on the phone with me trying to introduce her to something which she hated with a passion. Yuk!

So begins a quest for deeper understanding…

Ugly moments like that are often the catalyst for learning and transformation… for deepening understanding in both the mind and the soul.

Unbeknownst to each other, we both got off the phone and immediately conducted google searches on people who hate twitter. I was fascinated to read that there are plenty of people who are in that boat, and I started to dig into their reasons why. (Fascinating indeed, but I’ll save that for another article.)

She, on the other hand, felt relieved and justified that she wasn’t the only person having such an intense reaction to such a burgeoning trend.

So, what is Twitter?

If you haven’t explored Twitter yet, let me give you a very brief rundown.

Like Facebook, MySpace, Ning and other social media sites, Twitter is a place where you can hang out online.

It’s a place where you can connect.

As a business person, this is important because your business works when you connect with people who are longing for what you have to offer, and who are willing to pay for the value you give.

Twitter reminds me a little of those networking meetings where you have just 30 seconds to introduce yourself. Except what makes those meetings scary is that you only get to say it once. With twitter, you get “a million second chances” to briefly introduce yourself to the world.

On Twitter, you have permission (in fact you are required) to keep each act of connection (each ‘tweet’) short and sweet. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Twitter has to be shallow. Each of these short interactions add up, and can often lead to longer conversations by blog, email, telephone or even in person. Over time, relationships can naturally deepen.

Does Twitter have a Soul?

I reckon it does. If you want to find out for sure, try doing the Soul Business meditation from this earlier post with Twitter, instead of your business, and let me know how you go.

More importantly, Twitter is a shared space that is inhabited by a huge number of good souls… real people who care. Every minute of every day, there are people on Twitter who are reaching out  to each other in meaningful ways, making a little difference in each others lives.

Twitter is also inhabited by spammers, thoughtless autoresponders, annoying internet marketers (as opposed to the non-annoying kind), and a whole bunch of people that are just not your type.

Thankfully, you don’t have to hang out with them. You get to make your twitter experience entirely personal to you. You customize it. It’s as easy as clicking “follow” to connect with the people you are interested in, and “unfollow” to stop connecting with the ones you are not.

Making a little difference in each others lives

There’s a lot more to say about Twitter…And the web is awash with opinions. But for this very brief introduction, I would like to share with you a direct example of how a few “tweeps” (or “tweeple”, meaning “people on Twitter”)  made a difference in my life today.

It started like this. I was having a bad day, as I wrote in my tweet below (by the way, “OS” stands for “operating system”.)

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Thankfully, a Brisbane lad who runs networking events for local small business people was listening. He responded to my tweet…

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It’s a little thing. But you know, it helped. If you’ve ever been in an unreasonably bad mood, you know how important is to know that someone cares. Feeling witnessed and cared about helped me move from feeling sorry for myself to thinking about what I was going to do about it

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I received this reply from Michael Doneman who runs an education and support system for ethical entrepreneurs and managers.  I met him on Twitter. He was introduced to me by someone else who I met on Twitter – Edward Harran who founded a blog about how social media can be used as a force for positive change. Edward considers Michael to be a good friend and mentor. Now I know why.

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Michael’s words made me gasp. They were spot on. Compassionate words that did wonders for my soul.

They helped me to stop, and to be with what I was feeling. In stopping, I realised how much I was judging myself. In fact, I was judging my bad mood… And that just made my mood worse!

When I took Michael’s 139 characters to heart,  I started to soften around my ‘bad mood, to make time for it, so I could discover what it was really about…

And that has led me on a whole other process of discovery. I’m glad I didn’t choose the chocolate. Well, not just the chocolate, anyway. The bad mood turned out to be the tip of an iceberg, a rumbling volcano of issues that I haven’t been paying attention to over the last few weeks – even months.

Michael’s tweet didn’t free me from my bad mood altogether. But it made a little difference… and that made a big difference. It helped me get real about some stuff. And I’m still working on it.

Twitter for Business and…

So, as you can see, Twitter is a place where real people… people with hearts and souls… can make meaningful connections.

I mentioned that Twitter is a quick and easy way to connect with people who might be interested in what your business has to offer.

It’s also a useful way to:

  • Keep in touch with existing friends and colleagues. (I know many small business owners who avoid the isolation of working at home alone by keeping a desktop application, like tweetdeck, open so they can converse with trusted colleagues during their workday).
  • Stay abreast of the latest news in your field- in a grassroots, grapevine kinda way. (You can do this by following people in the know… For example, a sustainability consultant might follow 75+ Environmentalists on Twitter, or you can do this by following a relevant topic… For example, a psychologist might follow “depression”.)
  • Get help to solve a problem in your business. (For example, here’s a useful article on how to ask for help on twitter in a way that gets the problem solved.)
  • Meet potential collaborators, strategic alliances, joint venture partners… Or people who can help support or promote your business in some way.

And that’s just a few examples to start.

Are you twitterphobic, or just wanting to keep your distance?

I’m curious to hear what keeps you away, if you’re willing to share your comments below…

And don’t worry… I certainly won’t pressure you to use Twitter if you don’t want or need it.

On the other hand, maybe you do see the value of Twitter for your business and want to dive in. I’m pleased to share that my client eventually did. If you’re in this boat, go to www.Twitter.com to sign up. (Then feel free to follow me, send me a tweet, and get your Twitter experience started…)

Do you already use Twitter?

How do you use it? What works for you – and what do you get frustrated by? As you can see, I’ve only scratched the surface in this brief introduction… Why not share your Twitter wisdom with the other readers of this blog?

If you are on Twitter, you can follow me here – and be sure to send me a message to say hi!

Comments

comments

7 Responses

  1. Mike Boyd says:

    Fantastic post Yollana. I’m glad our tweets yesterday helped to lift you out of your negativity and address the issues at the root of the problem.
    I’ve got all the time in the world of Eddie and Michael they’re great souls, so I wasn’t surprised at all to see their tweets too.
    When you’re back on your feet and nursing that little bub we’ll all have to get together for a coffee and a “soul session”. :)

    Take care,

    Mike Boyd

  2. Eddie Harran says:

    Great post yollana.

    And yes I reckon Twitter does have soul. The universal soul. The rise of global consciousness. As Dalai Lama says, “We humans are all the same – we are in search of happiness and trying to avoid sufferring.” Twitter reminds me of that. Allows me to look beyond job titles, age, location, culture…..we are humans. When you think on that level, connection becomes easy.

  3. Trisha Cupra says:

    Twitter is great when you understand it. For me, it’s about learning a lot from all the great links that the people I follow post, and for making connections. Even today someone I just met on Twitter has expressed interest in becoming a client.

  4. i’m on twitter, facebook, and myspace, and ning, however rarely go there. I can’t work out how to find the time to use them….and currently twitter makes no sense to me….
    I will find the time and work them all out at some stage….i guess! So many other things to sort out first!

  5. yollana says:

    @Mike… Sweet. That sounds like a great idea :)

    @Eddie, I think you’re spot on that Twitter, and other social media sites, particularly address a human need for connection. Kind of a backlash to the processes of social isolation that started with industrialisation and the rise of the “nuclear family”.

    That reminds me that it’s also important that we make space for in-person communities, friends and family connections. Twitter hugs (has anyone coined the term twugs? That sounds bad…) would just not be the same.

    And talking about the Dalai Lama also reminds me that it’s important that we make time to connect with our own heart, spirit and soul. Like anything, Twitter can be used as a way to enhance or distract from the important things in life.

    @Trisha… I’m with you on learning a lot from great links posted by great people. And congratulations on having someone express interest in becoming a client. I’m curious about how your conversation went with them… The steps they took to get to know about what you offer and how Twitter was involved.

    @Fiona… As I was musing to Eddie above, Twitter is not the be-all and end-all. Like anything, it’s a personal journey to find the “right place” for it in your life and business. The key to working making social media useful and relevant to you is understanding how it works enough to know what you could do with it… Then clarifying your intention – why you want to do with it… Then you can work it about how much time you want to spend with it.

  6. The solecism far surpasses your intention [or do I presume?]: “I can’t bear the site of it.” Love it!

    Requests for “harder” information, like expert recommendations, references and technical advice also reveal the caring and giving nature of the Twitterverse.

    I posted yesterday to a Webmasterworld forum thread, where the tenor of most of the prior comments ran to “What a waste of time is Twitter!”

    “I have 360ish followers. Two of them, whom I also follow, live in my hometown. They’re serious foodies who are followed by a nationwide network of folks with like interests.

    I’m rarely in Atlanta; but circumstances lead me to spend an unscheduled night there. All I have with me by way of electronics is my (distinctly NOT “smart”) cell phone.

    I tweet:

    Can anyone recommend a Thai restaurant in #ATL? Please RT. TIA, Twitterverse!

    Inside of 20 minutes I have a dozen responses, some unmediated from folks who monitor the Twitter stream for the #ATL hashtag (airport codes abbreviate locations for brevity), some relayed by my homies/foodies whose retweets have gotten the ear of their peers in Atlanta.

    Called “crowdsourcing,” methinks. Works *brilliantly!*”

    Thanks for a sweet post.

    ________________
    Mark
    @triexpert on Twitter

  7. yollana says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks so much for your comment. How embarrassing! I had to look up “solecism” on dictionary.com and then come back here and admit to you that it’s quite possible that I… um… paraphrased for my client there and her language was correct. Or that I remembered her words correctly and she really did say that.

    But I’m not sure… Oops!

    And I’m curious. Is it cannot vs can’t? What is actually wrong with that sentence?