Last week I took a step into modernity and issued my first personal tweet.
I’ve used the descriptor because there is an important clarification to be made between my relatively early-adopter use of Twitter and my newly acquired status on the social media platform.
I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in early 2008 through my previous job. All tweets crafted were the opinions of that company rather than mine alone. In other words, I acted purely as the mouthpiece on Twitter of that company, penning tweets that promoted the good work being done. I had never, until this week, acted on Twitter as my own agent. So, why now? Since moving to the University of Nebraska Press I have been toying with the idea that I should really have my own voice, albeit one intimately tied to what I do as marketing manager for the Press, on this fascinating platform. Now, I’ve finally taken the plunge.
The delay between first tweeting for work and finally tweeting as an individual is an oddity in some ways. I don’t have a good reason other than I simply didn’t do it. And yet, I believe that Twitter is a powerful tool for learning about any subject in which you have an interest or a stake. Twitter, perhaps more than other social media, allows for more immediate sharing, browsing of ideas and thoughts from others in your industry, and creation of conversations that may or may not continue in other environments. It seems to me that businesses and organizations can use Twitter in a very natural way. The network serves as the old town crier did, letting the world (or those interested, at least) know what the organization is thinking and doing. Such groups have become much more savvy about how they do this on Twitter, moving away from selling to informing and conversing, and I think we have all benefited as a result.
Yet, individuals have adopted Twitter in huge numbers. Why do the rest of us choose to follow them and why should someone therefore choose to follow me and read what I have to tweet? The obvious answer would be that the individuals with the biggest followings are, in fact, far more like organizations or businesses than mere average citizens. These people are “brands” of their own. They have a platform from which they believe (and the rest of us buy into) they are permitted to hail the assembly of town citizens. In some ways then, if I choose my community carefully, remaining within the unseen boundaries of similar-minded and similarly employed people, I, too, may find a willing audience. My goal, as a newly initiated individual tweeter, is to avoid banal pronouncements of individualism and to try, instead, to use my “platform” as a discussion-creator and/or idea-sharer. I, no doubt, will find the urge strong to inform that massed assembly in front of the town hall balcony about something completely inconsequential to the vast majority. I hope, nay, I will strive to resist that urge and simply stick to books and the book world in one form or another.
Feel free to join me @MartynBeeny and see where it all goes!