Saturday, 21 February 2009

Twitter progress report.......shows potential but yet to deliver..

I have been using Twitter for 10 months now so it's time for a review of how we have been performing together......

It has been amazing to watch how the tool has grown from a niche toy into a huge social networking tool used by such a wide variety of people. I notice now that even Andy Murray, Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross are using it. With respect to learning and development there are clearly many professionals using it too. This article highlighted 100 learning professionals to follow but I suspect there are many more now.

When I first started to use Twitter I could think of lots of ways it could be used for real business value - I even posted my thoughts about it. I started to play with it, Tweeting about whatever was on my mind, linking to my blog and also to my nokia sports tracker site. It was interesting and strangely addictive especially as more people started to follow me.

But how is it being used as a business tool, particularly with respect to Learning and Development? I can see the potential, I really can. Training Time posted some interesting thoughts on this recently and I fully agree with their ideas. It clearly has bags of potential.

However here are some of the areas that have held our partnership back so far:

  • In the low risk corporate world people are often very reluctant to use a tool such as Twitter. Apart from the name being perceived as 'unprofessional' by some camps there has been some concern in using a tool that might not be there tomorrow (yes I know they should just try it etc but the corporate world doesn't always think like that)
  • Quite often the computers, blackberries and phones that companys provide their people with are 'locked down'. This means people can't add on neat little applications to either their pc or their mobile device. Whilst you can access Twitter via the web it is these little applications such as Twirl that make using it so much more easy and effective - especially to interact with other Tweeters. (My organisation is currently experimenting with a tool called Yammer which is a bit like Twitter but for use within a closed community).
  • Many people just aren't ready for this stuff. If you live in the world of blogging, facebook etc then it is a natural extension of what you already do. Many people don't live in this world and would feel very uncomfortable utilising a tool such as Twitter.

If you have examples of it being used in earnest in a learning and development context then I would really be interested to know more. In the meantime I will keep tweeting........follow me here


Training Time said...

Hi Chris, thanks for the mention!

Pinpointing an exact reason for using Twitter in your organization can be difficult to do. There are hundreds of different reasons why organizations and individuals use Twitter, but I think just being involved in the conversation is a step in the right direction.

Those just getting started with Twitter may be frustrated and searching for meaning, but shouldn't give up. Stick with it and discover how it works best for your situation.

Holger Nauheimer said...

Hi Chris, I am starting to combine Twitter with Open Space Technology (I assume you know what I am talking about, others might check Wikipedia and the like. And here Twitter can be a tool for enhancing learning and cooperation, as long as we don't run out of hashtags. My so far most successful application was an OST of 170 folks in Germany, of which about 30 used Twitter to cross-polinate groups. In the entire conference (which wasn't only in OST format), we produced about 400+ Tweeds, which read like a nice story (sorry, in German). I tried the same in my recent Thailand conference (see the Twitter stream here), but we focused more on blogging and podcasting and didn't have so much time to go into twittering in detail.

I am very confident that Twitter and other streaming applications will be used for all kinds of organisational things in the near future.

Chris Morgan said...

Thanks to you both for your comments and encouragement. I am certainly sticking with Twitter for a while yet and am fascinated to see how it's use develops over time. I can see the potential and it is certainly becoming more main stream now (even my parents know what it is....that's the acid test!)