I was asked this question at the Anthrodesign group, in the context of a conversation around getting into the swing of a project and developing some working momentum . I shared there, how I often find myself turning to my blog and twitter communities for helping me with my thinking on qualitative and ethnographic research projects. I was then asked these questions: Could you elaborate a bit more on how you tap into your twitter community? with the limited character set, do you drive them to answer in more detail on your blog? How effective have you found twitter in generating meaningful conversations and resources?
Sharing my response here with a few modifications – there are many many ways I use Twitter, apart from keeping in touch with people, the world, and sharing warm fuzzy feelings or rants. I’ll try and describe some of these:
- If I’m looking for advice (from a community I trust) on say which phone to buy next, or where to find macbook chargers, or how to solve a particular problem I find I can really rely on my twitter community. During the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks Twitter was what kept many of us feeling ‘safe’ (in the way of experiencing it together) and connected to the outside world, as we were stuck in our homes. We also used it to try and reach out to people who were affected – eg. sourced and published lists of victims from hospitals (and directed people to those lists via links on twitter). I’ve often also used Twitter to help mobilize action around immediate causes like someone needing blood of a certain group in a specific hospital. But these are all very specific short term needs being addressed by quick responses.
- I often use Twitter (and my blog – they’re linked BTW) to have meaningful conversations, tease out some areas, ask for help on resources, opinions, suss out experts, or participants for studies. Obviously, with no mention of the actual client or specific subject of research. A recent example – a client is looking to understand Durability as a driver for purchase in her category, and I broadened the issue and asked a question on Twitter - the thought to actually blog this series started off with this tweet – and responses to it - looking for evidence that ‘durability’ as a brand proposition isn’t a big purchase driver for youth today. egs, links anecdotes welcome!”. Sometimes its linked back to my blog, or to something someone else has published and I’m always amazed at both the depth and width in the sharing of perspectives that it evokes.
- And I use it increasingly to share links around what I’m reading or find interesting. The way I do it, is bookmark the link on Delicious and I’ve automated it to show both at my blog, and on Twitter. Often, these are starting points for meaningful conversations among several tweeters who share similar interests. And as importantly, if not more, I get to see all their marvelous links too!
- Or to live-tweet an event I’m at, as I did with TEDIndia last year and then just aggregated my tweets at my blog, and TedXMumbai more recently. The interesting thing about such tweets is you actually have people responding back in real-time, you feel your community is ‘present’ too, and often their questions and comments are shared back at the conferences. These could be conferences around my areas of work too.
- To amplify interesting thoughts, ideas, requirements, needs of others I follow on twitter thru RTs.
- Every post I make on my blog, every bookmark I link to at Delicious – is tweeted. As a result, it helps me broadcast my thoughts, and encourages people to come in and add to the conversation. It really doesn’t bother me where they do this – as today it’s possible to weave much of this into a lifestream of sorts. (I know this might be annoying to those who follow my blog, my twitter profile, and facebook as there can be much repetition – I need to find a way to sort this one out!)
So to answer the question more directly … I find I’m using Twitter increasingly both as a quick-byte sort of space – in and out, and as a gateway or pipe through which information and conversations flow!
Would love to hear your views – How do you use twitter or your blog in generating meaningful conversations and resources around what you do?