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Monday, April 26, 2010

why use twitter? - 8 potential uses at GA (pt. 3 of 4)

In this series of posts I am focusing on the use of Twitter at the General Assembly. Accordingly, the explanations and applications I offer are not exhaustive, but directed toward that end.  The series is in four parts: 
1. An Analogy for the Non-Technical (and maybe for techies too!)
2. What is Twitter? - an introduction
3. Why Use Twitter? - 8 potential uses at GA 
4. How to Use Twitter? - step by step guide to getting started

WHY use Twitter? - 8 potential uses at General Assembly

Close to 1000 Presbyterians (and a couple hundred people going to GA219) are already on Twitter, commenting and looking ahead to GA. Ok, fine, what are the real world (and specifically General Assembly) applications for this digital means of conversation? In no specific order…
1. Breaking news with live coverage: multiple, live notices of events AS they happen
  • News will break at GA and across the country instantly with Twitter. While news sources can offer more well thought out reflection overnight, it will be those on Twitter who get the word out and have the first word. With the amplification of that word through Facebook and blogs, news will disperse very, very quickly. Further, while there is the 140 character limit on a single tweet, people will respond and have short conversations that can quickly add up to quite a bit of content, especially with many people involved.
2. Group commentary on a shared event
  • There will be a constant stream of commentary/conversation on everything happening at GA, from plenary to committee to hallway conversations. I think there are multiple implications for that commentary stream being public and real-time.
  • The best analogy I could give to this effect would be to huddle ten people together in the back of a room at a GA event on TV and have them all talk at the same time about what they see going on… except they are actually dispersed throughout the room, can all hear each other while they are “talking”… and instead of ten people, it’s 100 or more. The effect is fascinating and an exciting, dynamic conversation. Waiting for the analysis to come the next morning will be like a parent shouting instructions to a teenager flying by at 60 mph in a convertible with friends.
3. Direct communication with specific group
  • Whether set up ahead of time (or on the fly), one could send one text message through twitter and it would go publicly or (I think) privately to a preset list, like “Charlotte presbytery commissioners” or “Christian educators.”
4. Feedback, invited and otherwise
  • Prominent publications or events like GA lunches will get Twitter feedback whether they ask for it or not. This can be a good way to generate “buzz” though it is nearly impossible to manage – you get what you get. In many cases, those using Twitter will be alerted to a given article or event first by the online feedback, then trace it back to the original article or event.
5. Research
  • Want to check a quick Book of Order reference and you don't have yours with you?… put the word out.*
6. Polling
  • While I don’t think this will happen officially alongside advisory votes, I think it will happen informally and have at least as profound an impact on commissioner voting. It will be interesting to see what guidelines OGA gives commissioners with regard to looking for public opinion prior to voting.*
  • Moderator and my own technological Obi-Wan, Bruce Reyes-Chow has the definitive lists of Presbyterians and GA219 participants who are signed on to Twitter; his lists are currently public and accessible by anyone.
7. Marketing and Sales (esp. information in the case of GA): viral effect
  • Check out the newest article in the Layman here: http://bit.ly/cmhrhT 
  • “Get your free rainbow scarf; stop by the MLP booth.” Etc…
8. “Tweet-Up” and make new friends
  • Presbyterian Outlook lunch today; come to _____ to hear about today’s issues.
  • “Anyone who wants to meet for dinner and talk about _______, meet at Red Lobster at 7pm tonight.”

*The Stated Clerk's office is providing instruction and guidelines for commissioners on the appropriate use of social media during the Assembly - found on PC-Biz under the 'Resource' tab: open PDF HERE and duplicated on the GA219 website HERE.  In some circumstances, it would not be advised (or even possible) to seek this kind of information from "outside."


Dave Hackett said...

So I think your blog, Robert, is as good a forum as any for us to start thinking of how to segment the Twitter hashtags for the Assembly. Let's have some creative brainstorming on the committees, topics, etc to build an initial structure for a Twitter segmentation. Looks like #ga219 is gaining consensus for comments on whole assembly.

robert austell said...

Dave, I'm not opposed to suggesting hashtags here, but I do see two reasons to hold off for the time being.

1. Hashtags are notoriously open source... they will be what they will be... just because I (or you) suggest them doesn't mean anyone will follow them. As momentum builds towards GA and building a twitter community, I think leadership of this type will emerge. It may well be me, or...

2. I'm anticipating Bruce Reyes-Chow taking the lead on this. He's the one with the lists and the most followers; he's the one that's been traveling the country speaking on social media (incl. twitter); and in all reality, whatever he says the hashtags will be is what they will be. I'll touch base with him and see what his thoughts are about organizing hashtags.


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