Submitted by Susan Tenby, publisher of Online Communities for Social Change
Today I had several discovery moments of serendipitous learning via Twitter. I am noticing lately, that I am hearing all my news before it even hits the web, let alone TV, via Twitter. There is something so gratifying about reading a news-ticker on the bottom of MSNBC TV and saying , “Yeah, old news, read a tweet about that 5 minutes ago.” Twitter is becoming more important to us every day, and it will soon change the way we live. It definitely changes the way we are perceiving what is current and the way that we are receiving information.
When I was 12, I remember my father used to mock me for obsessively checking my voicemail. “You’re not a doctor”, he’d say, because he was one. I used to obsessively check my email, and then I moved on to obsessively checking my Facebook feed, but now I try desperately to limit my distraction and ADD time and I just manically check my tweet-stream.
Today, one of the hundreds of time i was obsessing on TweetDeck, my lens of choice, to see who was saying what and who was talking or re-tweeting me, I noticed that someone whom I respect in my field, Online Community Manager, Angela Connor, was talking about stuff I found to be interesting and using a hashtag I didn’t recognize, #Cmtychat. I followed the hashtag, and I was all of a sudden immersed in a lively discussion of community managers from all over the world, talking about what we do and sharing best practices.The discussion hour was half over by the time I arrrived there, but I tried to join in without seeing too lame and ignorant. One of the things I learned in this event was the new members to a community often felt embarrassed to post for the first time, and it is imperative to welcome the newbies and encourage them. This is something that is common sense, but it was among hundreds of rules of thumb that were nice to be reminded of.
I joined in and started tweeting about my work with Nonprofits and Online Community and mimicked the behavior of the others. Soon, I was being addressed by them and responded to, and I was really happy to have stumbled upon this spontaneous and free conference about online community. I started observing my own behavior as a community newbie (to their conference) and reflected upon my behavior, using it as a lesson of how to better manage the communities that I run.
I used the #Cmtychat hashtag at the end of my few posts, and then discovered that the technology was even deeper then just tagging your tweet.
I clicked into the discussion and found myself in a new site that was just an aggregator of all of our tweets who were using that hastag. There is a tool called TweetChat and as you can see from this week’s community chat conference, it grabs all the posts with the same hash tag, deposits them into a separate silo, giving you the experience of being in a separate chat room, rather than distributed all over Twitter, which is actually what is happening. Best of all (albeit a little unnecessary, unless you are seriously lazy), if you tweet from the Tweetchat engine, it will add the hashtag for you. I discovered this when I added my post there, with the hashtag at the end, and then saw it posted in Twitter with a double hashtag. (Oh, the many ways we can go on about being embarrassed by tweeting. I guess that will be another post entirely.)
So, it was quite a hyper-real and helpful experience learning about online community best practices and doing it on an entirely new tool, having not been invited to participate and just jumping in and chatting, which put me in the shoes of a newbie, somewhere I haven’t been for 9 years.
Twitter is a networking tool, in addition to all the other reasons we tweet, and I now have dozens more followers and people I follow, whom I may only had met if I was actually attending the same forum or conference with them. However, in this instance, the simple curiosity about a tag, brought me into the event, and I will definitely be going back every Friday at 11am-noon PT.
You can read the transcript of this week’s Community Managers’ Chat here: http://bit.ly/tDUMg
This article was originally posted on Online Communities for Social Change at http://susantenby.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/learned-a-lot-about-community-using-new-use-of-twitter-tweetchat-new-to-me/ by Susan Tenby:
Online Community Director,TechSoup.org and Nonprofit Commons in Second Life. @suzboop on Twitter