Saturday, July 16, 2011

Strategic Use of Twitter

When Twitter first came out, I thought it was the silliest thing ever.  And the way it was first used was pretty silly.  Even founder Biz Stone didn’t know what it would be used for, and if Paula Poundstone thought it was narcissistic, something must be wrong.

But there are some strategic uses of Twitter that I strongly recommend.  These uses can be used for career advancement, advancing a hobby or just learning something new.  140 characters is too short to present anything real.  But it is enough space to include a title and link.  In essence, Twitter is the ultimate tool to filter the immense volume of content on the Internet and present only what is really valuable.  Google searching is not precise enough for this.  And scanning through full blogs takes too long.  But with Twitter you can scan a hundred tweets in five minutes and either read the good links or save them for later.  But you will have found them.  And the person you are following who showed it to you gets some of the credit and branding. 

So for me, one of my hobbies is the intersection of technology and business.  So I follow Wired magazine, Fast Company magazine, and Harvard Business Review.  There are very few friends who’s minute by minute activities are worth following, so I can limit my feed to just them. 

And as a tweeter, I can provide my followers with just what I think will be really valuable to them.  If I am good at that, I will create a brand for myself.  I have no data to back this up, but I would stake a big chunk of my social networking reputation on the fact that I am more likely to get a consulting job when the client follows me on twitter.  And if you are applying for a job, if half the team follows you on twitter you have a big leg up on the job. 

Instinct Blindness

I was reading Incognito by David Eagleman and he used the term “instinct blindness” to refer to the lack of attention and resulting lack of memory traces from tasks that have become automatic (or that started out that way – hence the term instinct).  I have used the similar term “inattention blindness” to refer to the similar phenomenon when you don’t notice things write in front of you when your attention is on something else.  I like the use of the term blindness because unlike the novice mental model that the human visual system are like a video camera, it shows how blind we really are.  These events literally never register in our attention or situation awareness and never establish a memory trace.  Unless something salient happens, it will stay that way.  Just as if you were blind.