Everyone I know who uses Twitter uses it differently.

Some promote, some broadcast, some market, some inquire, some share, and most use Twitter for a mix of these. Technology and the way we use it interactively shapes our experiences– We each experience “twitter” in our own way, and what “Twitter is” means something unique to each one of us.

In preparation for two workshops on social media at the Academy on Management I spent time reflecting on my social media practice and how I use Twitter in particular. For some people what’s below may be tmi — but for those who are particularly curious about other people’s twitter practice, here we go.

Thanks for coming to visit me from Twitter.  Here’s some stuff you might like to know about me, how I use twitter, and what I write about.

About me
I’m a management scholar, consultant, teacher and writer working at the intersection of organizational change, digital media & technology, and social change.

More about my background here, in an older ‘about me’ page on my blog.

What I Use Twitter For, Mostly

I use twitter to find interesting things and people and to share what I find with folks who might be able to use it to make a positive difference in the world. For me, Twitter is not about branding, promoting or targeting (although these are effective strategies to purse on twitter).

For me, Twitter is about finding, curating, sharing and learning.  

I tweet about:

  • Generative business practices: how businesses can grow while & by helping others
  • Challenge and opportunities of social media — digital networked technology – for organizations, for individuals and for society
  • Business, social change, and “progressive organizational movements”
  • Feminism & inclusivity
  • Business and culture (e.g., how businesses are trying to change what our cultures value and do)
  • Businesses that are trying to make a positive difference
  • Feminism in Tech, Geek Feminism, Inclusivity in Tech
  • Digital technology, coding, computational thinking, managing software developers, designing software systems, the politics of software and design
  • Lean StartUp / Lean thinking, Business & Management education

I don’t stick to one topic, and I don’t try to reflect or craft my ‘brand’. I just follow what interests and intrigues me and share it. I imagine that folks who follow me are good at just ignoring what doesn’t interest them to seize on the pieces that do.

Here are just a few of the posts I’ve written about Twitter:

Things I love to tweet

I love a well-written sentence. I wish I wrote more of them myself! When I’m reading something interesting online I often look for a sentence that represent the thesis of the writer. Then I’ll  tweet this so I can share the article with others. (The reason I love Buffer is that it makes this activity so, so easy.) Often I’ll find 2 or 3 sentences and tweet them in a row.

I love a provocative blog post or article. If it makes me think about something more fully or differently I’m likely to share it, in the hopes that you’ll go read it.

I feel lucky to have made some wonderful friends through Twitter, friends whose generous participation has made my world a lovelier and more interesting place. I like to share the views of colleagues and ‘so-me friends’ (social media friends) to call folks’ attention to ideas, insightful, commentaries and the occasional hedgehog gif.

I “should” tweet more of my own writing, especially from this blog. I personally feel embarrassed being self-promotional (as many of us do), so I’m especially honored when someone shares something I’ve written with their tweeps.

I also tweet ad hoc (also known as ‘random’) thoughts, because I’m a human with a busy mind who has lots of extra thoughts that seem worthwhile and need a home. Pus you never know which random pony photo or Cumberbatch gif will make someone’s day.   2013-10-17 17.02.52

How I use Twitter

Sending ideas out::: What appears as my twitter ‘stream’ is a combination of bursts and drips of ideas. Bursts appear when I an actually “on” Twitter, reading and paying attention in real time.

When I have Twitter open on my desktop, phone or iPad, I will dip in and out over the course of the day to read, reply, retweet and respond in real time. I don’t have a particular schedule and I try to manage my activity so that I’m not always enslaved to the stream.

Tweets also come out as more of a gentle drip, which I create by scheduling tweets using Buffer. This second stream is my lightly coordinated effort to spread tweets out over time. I hope that the combination of real time bursts and a more measured (though still informal) pops of information mean that I catch many people much of the time.

  • RT’s are not endorsements, but efforts to garner attention to something intriguing. I really try not to RT anything I haven’t read, except if it’s from someone I know well and trust.
  • MT’s are my way of trying to stuff as much as I can into an RT, usually by committing some heinous grime of grammar and punctuation. Apologies in advance.
  • For longer ideas and to sustain a conversation, I’ll use notations like (1/3), (2/3) to let you know that there are 3 tweets in a series and here’s the first or second.
  • I’ll often favorite or re-tweet something not only to shout out to a friend but also to bookmark for later.

Letting ideas in:: Sometimes I’m looking at Twitter, sometimes I’m vaguely aware, and often times I’m not paying attention. I catch a lot of treats and I miss many more. One of the lessons of Twitter’s abundance is that you can — you must — make peace with the idea that you’ll miss things.

I cross my fingers and trust that even though I miss a lot of good stuff that folks share, I find enough to keep nourished.

My “Following” Strategy/ Gathering people to Learn From

I don’t like to think of “followers” and “followees”, preferring to think of the world of twitter as people I share with and people I learn from. Followers are “people I share with’ and followees are ‘people I learn from”

You can probably tell from my followee to follower ratio that I tend to follow back when folks follow me. It’s not an exact 1::1, since sometimes I miss people and other times I think ‘Why would an atheist veterinarian in Belgium want to follow me? Must be a mistake…”

Sometimes I’ll RT something from a new follower, to say hi & thank you, and to introduce that person to my own twitter world.

Lists / Organizing the people I learn from::

Usually, I’ll look at someone’s twitter bio to figure out where I might put them on one of my lists. I try to put many of the folks I follow onto public and private lists like these: (coming soon, but you can see on my profile)

I use Tweetdeck to manage how I scan Twitter so that I can focus on certain lists over others depending on what I’m working on and what is going on the the interwebz.  If you think I should put you on a list, please tweet me.

Pitches:: Occasionally people will pitch me ideas, books, and consulting opportunities using Twitter. Please also contact me via email at cvharquail@authenticorganizations.com since that is a more stable way to connect with me.

I love to hear about it when an idea that I’ve shared has been useful to you. (hint hint)

If you enjoy my Twitter stream, please consider reading my blogs posts too. You can sign up to have them delivered right to your email box! (hint hint)

You can tell from the above that my twitter style is opportunistic, casual, and somewhat self-permissive. I make it this way to honor and release my anxiety that there are all these wonderful people with insights out there whom I might miss.

Since I can’t catch everything and everyone, I try to make my twitter practice nourishing and fun for me.

I hope you’ll do the same.

If you have any reactions or questions, please share them below.  See you on the interwebz!  cv