I am looking forward to the next few weeks at work.

We’re shaking up the way certain things have been done and spreading the word about some different approaches.

One of the main themes will be social networking and how individual colleagues can make best use of various online tools for their own purposes and for the benefit of the organisation as a whole.

I’m expecting a mixed response, ranging from the enthusiastic to the apathetic – no doubt with a fair few “Load of rubbish” style comments thrown in for good measure.

I am anticipating that persuading people to join something like LinkedIn will be a relatively straight-forward and painless process. Creating a business-orientated network is a central part of the job that most of us do and I’ve identified key contacts that most of my colleagues already work with who have joined LinkedIn.

Linking with them online, as well as in the real world, makes a great deal of sense and setting up a couple of interest groups related to the work we do might well help and raise some awareness of the services we offer.

The bigger challenge will come with something like Twitter, not least because awareness of the service is now growing. So-called “old media” coverage of this “new media” tends to be a little hit and miss – actually, more miss than hit – so there could already be a few preconceived ideas to be overcome.

The message of my chattering classes to colleagues will be simple – it is still good to Twitter.

chattering42

One of the big challenges we face is communication. As a very disparate organisation – a third of us are office-based, the rest work remotely all over the country – having clear channels of communication is vital.

There is the phone, obviously. There is also email. On an occasional basis we all get to meet up and talk face-to-face.

But for the majority of the time “we are dispersed”, as one colleague is fond of describing our organisation.

I’ve found value in the likes of Twitter during the two years I was self-employed and mainly home-based, both personally and professionally. So I’ve been spending a while finding out how other organisations – and individuals within organisations – use Twitter.

For example, Lichfield District Council – our local local authority – uses Twitter for a variety of reasons. There is a general council Twitter page, plus another account dedicated to planning issues.

On a national level, the DirectGov presence on Twitter provides a wide range of information. Then there are organisations like the Fabian Society, who make use of the opportunities that the service provides.

These opportunities are many and varied. The beauty of something like Twitter is finding the ones that suit your needs.

Next week I’ll dip a virtual toe in to the social media waters and unleash our organisation’s Twitter account on an unsuspecting public.

It might work, it might not – there is only one way to find out.

The account might well evolve in ways I haven’t thought of, especially if I get a few colleagues to join me in tweeting.

Hopefully, it will be fun finding out and also an eye-opening experience as we attempt to develop a new network of Twitterers who will be interested in the work we do.

It could even help create some new clear and concise channels of internal communication – the concise element is especially appealing as the 140-character limit on Twitter will be a good discipline for some.

7 responses »

  1. dianasmith says:

    Finding the ways to connect all this together.

    It will be interesting to see where this goes.

    This is my blog from last night http://dianamsmith.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/is-the-internet-the-fuel-for-a-new-kind-of-democracy/

    I think that we are close to the point of building more coherent hubs.

  2. Ursula says:

    Paul, twittering at 140 characters a shot? Are you crazy? How long will that take any of us (make that me) to condense ourselves and still convey meaning?

    Chattering, yours,
    U

  3. Paul Groves says:

    Diana: Thanks. I’ll check out your post. I’ll do an update early next week on the new Twitter presence.

    U: Everyone could do with a bit of discipline sometimes, even you. The skill comes in conveying your message in 140 characters…or less, preferably. Something tells me that you would be quite adept at hitting the nail on the head in a single sentence.

  4. Ursula says:

    Paul, dear man: “Everyone could do with a bit of discpline”? Yes, especially me. I am a journalist’s daughter and, at penance, had to shorten, to its bare bones, every bloody essay I wrote – even those already approved by my teachers (their judgement didn’t cut ice with my father).

    What I’d now love to see is a word counter on your blog. I suppose I could always run to Ms Creative to channel the verbal overflow.

    U

    PS Thanks for the compliment. – I’ll try and rise to the challenge (mind you, where I come from sentences are easily very long indeed)

  5. Paul Groves says:

    U: My blog, my rules, my word count.
    But when it comes to Twitter, less really can be more. Even a single word can convey a great deal.
    As those in the land of my fathers (and grandfathers) are fond of saying: “Tidy”.

  6. dianasmith says:

    You can’t say everything you need in Twitter alone. That is why as soon as I had discovered Twitter I needed to set up a blog.

    The attraction of Twitter is that it is a tool for making connections.

    Once you have the connections you can think it through and go deeper.

    The brevity matters too. If you find the habit of thinking towards 140 characters. It adds power to the ideas.

    In a world that is as complex as this, and changes so rapidly, I think we need the fluidity of Twitter to allow us to respond.

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