Twitter Take Two: Thoughts & Expectations

I opened my first Twitter account in March 2011 (disclosure: I’m not claiming to be one of the first users; I realize this is 3 years too late for die-hard Twitter fans). 39 Tweets and 4 Favorites later, my stint on Twitter came to an end. I don’t remember it being a conscious decision to part ways with the social media platform – I wasn’t in the middle of a job search and worried my content would be viewed inflammatory, I wasn’t trying to get over an ex, and I don’t recall feeling addicted and concerned about my time wasted on the site. @LauraKayeum just seemed to fade one year later, on a summer day while taking the bus home to Connecticut.

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A week ago, I activated my second Twitter account and a rush of familiar emotions came swarming back to me. In just a few clicks, Twitter was back in my life, inundating me with information and opportunity to be utterly in the know on all topics, happening everywhere, in every moment. Without even realizing, I began to navigate from tweet, to article, to hashtag, to website, back to tweets – completely distracted and overwhelmed by all of the content.

I returned to @lak_yaks the next day hesitant, but prepared to embrace the #IS6621 mission – to gain a sophisticated understanding of social media tools and use the tools personally to support the class environment. I noticed some of my classmates had already begun to tweet about content that had been touched on during our first class. The class hashtag was prominent, and my target follower base was clear. I read the class conversations, but this time I was focused and much less distracted by the Twitter noise around me. I had a clear agenda. I wasn’t as frantic, and found myself casually scrolling through the relevant IS6621 dialogue. The sense of information overload from the day before had gradually subsided.

As the week progressed I began to add new followers to my network. I noticed myself turning to my peers to see their followers and which thought leaders were relevant to help me better understand the current state of social media. I began to curate my personal platform for my specific purpose, and made a conscious decision not to overdo it. Since I understood my audience, I felt confident posting certain content knowing it would meet my followers expectations. In just a week, IS6621 was already providing order to the social media chaos.

It wasn’t until I created @lak_yaks for a specific purpose last week, and after reading “strategy, not technology drives digital transformation” that I understood what happened during my Twitter run back in 2011. I had no clear strategy as I approached this social media platform. I had friends that had used Twitter to actively engage in celebrity news and pop culture; others who used Twitter to solely interact with all of their favorite brands; and then there were those who used their feed as a way to say educated and informed on domestic and global news. Personally, I had attempted Twitter to meet all of these objectives, and I couldn’t keep up. I was unable to find the right balance, and ultimately rendered Twitter too much.

From just the first week of class I have two clear takeaways and expect this list to grow over the next few months.

First, I have been reminded that when approaching any social media platform it is imperative to have a clear strategy. Unlike my own Twitter experience, organizations can’t just write off social media as “too much.” Corporations also can’t just use social media just to check a box, and then either do nothing, or try to do everything. There must be a balance and there must be “clear digital strategy” if firms wants to drive transformation. But this perhaps obvious takeaway just scratches the IS6621 surface.

Throughout the semester I expect to learn how companies are strategically approaching the abundance of social media tools and how they are then effectively (or ineffectively) using these tools to drive success. We see companies today exploring the power of customer engagement – ranging from just social media sharing and posting to strategically engaging customers in product design and development (e.g. Hasbro). How are companies dealing with the concept of brand agility/decision making versus protecting the brand in the vast social media space? Cycle times for social media, blogging, and video content are infinitely faster. How are companies strategically confronting these challenges? And given these trends, how are we able to really measure success?

Second, I expect to be part of a fascinating shared experience with my classmates. Given the exorbitant information already at my disposal I believe my fellow classmates will provide clear direction and create insightful live and virtual dialogue and debate. I hope to explore social media beyond just the platforms we use on daily basis. I imagine my classmates will be the ones uncovering these platforms and together we will predict how they will shape our digital future. I expect my social media community will afford my second attempt on Twitter, and my debut with WordPress, as productive and instrumental in my growth as an active receiver and provider of social media content. A snapshot of @lak_yaks just a week later leads me to believe I am already off to a better start.

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  1. Hello Laura, good post! I can’t agree you more about the point that we need to have a clear strategy when we approach any form of social media. Actually I had a similar experience when I first registered into the Renren Network seven years ago. “Renren” must be very unfamiliar to Americans, but it’s quite popular to almost every young student in Mainland China. It’s a leading real-name social networking internet platform in China. Or sometimes, the young just joke and call it “Chinese Facebook” (As you know, Facebook is blocked in Mainland China). Renren means everyone in Chinese, and the name indicates that this social work enables users to connect and communicate with each other, share information, create user-generated content and enjoy a wide range of other features and services. Sounds pretty good, aha? However, I soon found myself get addicted to it as a teenager. I was overwhelmed and attracted to all kinds of information like you experienced in your first twitter account. Instead of helping me build up relationship with others more effectively, it’s more like a distraction of my life. What’s worse, I found that although I made some so-called friends with strangers online, I actually drifted away from some of my close friends in the real life. It ended up with my decision to log off my Renren account after I did an unsatisfying work on my courses in that semester. But I realized that It’s unfair to blame to Renren since it works well for some people – I should’ve had a clear strategy on how to use it even before I had a try. Here’s one more question to discuss with you: Based on our similar experiences, it seems that we are both the kind of person who would like to use social media as a tool to specialize and secure our current interests or focus. But what do you think about that some people use social media as a tool to explore unknown things that they may have interest? Or let’s be more specific and go further: Do you think that the possible difference on how to use social media or network between you and your friends could be a risk for you to maintain your friendship or connection with others? (For example: what you think is too distracting and frequent in the social media environment may be very normal and modest to some of your real-life friends.)

    1. Hi Luyuan, Thanks for sharing about your experiences on Renren. It’s amazing to think how social media can impact people from all over the world and their emotions in very similar ways. I look forward to reading more about your experiences with Social Media in your home country and how your behaviors in the US are similar and perhaps different.

  2. Welcome back to Twitter, Laura! Your post made me think of the MIT-SMR post that Professor Kane wrote following the Boston Marathon. We use different social media outlets for different purposes. I don’t approach Facebook the same way that I do Twitter. Before taking this course, I predominately used Twitter to read news on-demand. I would tweet on occasion but it wasn’t my social media tool of choice. I now visit the site more frequently to stay up to date on what classmates are talking about in order to prepare myself for the week to come but I’m still finding it difficult to do it on a daily basis.

    I think having a personal social media strategy is just as important as it is for businesses. And, we all have to figure out what the measure of success is. I know at Boston College, our social media team looks at the number of impressions and the reach different messages have on social media outlets. By analyzing this data, we can tweak our messages in order to have the most impact with our desired constituents. Over the course of the semester, I hope that we are able to learn more about social media strategy and lessons learned from missteps.

  3. My experience was exactly the same. I made a twitter account long ago when it had just started. But after only a couple of tweets i gave up because that was when everyone was mad about Facebook. I think they deactivated my account after a couple years of inactivity (sadly), such that when we were required for this class to set up an account, i couldn’t find any trace of it online.
    As a side note that’s good news for privacy advocates. All we need to vanish is to slowly fade away.
    But coming back to this class. Only a couple days in I feel this is a great way to have a shared classroom experience, especially for this class. Its fast, concise and connected at all times, unlike blogs which require a conscious effort to start. Its great to hear you too had the same experience with twitter. I’m looking forward to know how we can use it better.

  4. Loved your use of visuals and hyperlinks! It’s great that you already recognize how important a strategy is when it comes to social media use. We’ll talk a lot about various business’ unique strategies and how it can help or hurt them. It’s essential to have a personal one as well, which will probably grow and change for you throughout this semester.

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