My Journey to Loving Twitter

1. Make Time and Look Beyond the Tools

Professor Kane had warned us from the start that this class would be intense, with a steady flow of work throughout the semester. As he explained the weekly assignments I felt the urge to jot a quick to-do list for the first time in a few months. And so I did. Understanding the class requirements, I wondered if I had enough time to commit fully to this course.

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I spoke with another MBA student upon departing our first class, and she commented that she couldn’t imagine herself needing to know how to write blogs, or use Twitter at her job, and concluded she’d be dropping the course.

Fortunately for me, I was wrong. I found the time. Unfortunately, my fellow MBA peer was wrong as well. It’s not just about the tools.

Yes, there was continuous work throughout the semester. Yet, the workload never seemed burdensome or tiring. It was easy to do more than what was expected because as Clay Shirky wrote in “Gin, Television and Cognitive Surplus”:

We have always found the time to do things that interest us, specifically because they interest us. The invention and spread of public media that enable ordinary citizens to pool that free time in pursuit of activities they like or care about.

Additionally, while we may not be using Twitter or WordPress in our future jobs, I learned:

The strength of technologies – social, mobile, analytics, and cloud – doesn’t lie in the technologies individually. Instead it stems from how companies integrate them to transform their businesses and how they work

As future business leaders, the use of social technology is much less determined by the tools, but rather the important asset users receive. Internal social media isn’t just about the software. We must look at the role customers want any technology to play. In this course, these tools provided the  access to learn from one another on a deeper level, beyond the classroom setting.

2. Constantly Reflect and “Think Outside the [Penalty] Box

I am leaving this class more observant and aware of social trends. Throughout the semester I would go for runs outside or sit on the T and observe how people were engaging on social media and using digital tools. The MIT Sloan Review article about how the NHL leveraged Pinterest encouraged me to think how users were leveraging social media in areas or ways I least expected.

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I began to notice the nuanced ways individuals and different generations use social media. I spoke with my 87-year old grandfather on why he loves Facebook, he explained: “I like keeping up with the activities of my family. It makes me feel young.” For my mother: “I enjoy looking at all the pictures.”

I learned how furniture companies like SteelCase and financial service institutions like State Street are also leveraging the power of social. I learned that email is definitely a form of social media and grappled with “how email is killing us” and what messaging tools should be used in corporate settings today. I learned from @ProfessorChang how some companies like Yelp and Trip Advisor tread a fine line when it comes to social media and public defamation.

I realize that social media is everywhere, and that we must look outside the box to understand the role it plays.

3. Download Periscope

@MelissaBeecher described Periscope as “unfiltered, raw journalism.” It was in that moment I learned how important it is to stay relevant and not be afraid to adopt new technologies. Periscope offers an entirely new way to connect and see the world. Her reflections on viewing the tragic events in Paris unfold on Periscope were captivating and powerful. While I may not like or use all the new social tools, I must not be hesitant to adopt to the ever-changing landscape.

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4. Social Media Does Not Make Me Lonely

Social media does in fact allow us to maintain and build new connections. We are not lonely. Not only did I learn from my peers daily, but I also feel as if I could in fact have “small talk” and build on these connections in the physical world. @TaylorCKenyon  enjoys being active and values exercise. @hobballa is informed about world news. @maxbg17 I’m sure will continue to follow his interest in Virtual Reality.@nayyarp12 likes technology and kept me updated on Facebook’s new features.@AlexandraPear43 is definitely an artist and probably can help me learn Photoshop.

I also learned that social media breaks down the “buyer to consumer boundary” and truly can build a “brand relationship.” My journey with sweetgreen on social media allowed me to connect with their social media lead, Erin Kim. The next time I am in New York I may just take her up on her offer:

i’d love to see what kind of work you do so stay in touch, and if i am in ever boston, i’d love to say hi – let me know if you’re ever in nyc!

As Nicholas Chistakis explained in his Ted Talk, “social networks are a vast fabric of humanity” and I could not agree more.

5. I am not overwhelmed 

I logged into Twitter for the first time in 3 years after our first class back in September. I had been “while you were away” longer than the Twitter feed could even recognize. I fumbled trying to make sense of the new tools, features and inundation of content. I left that experience on Twitter overwhelmed and stressed. I even blogged about it.

But as the semester progressed, I learned to love Twitter. I feel more informed on world news, national events, and industry trends than I have been in awhile. The access to information is truly far-reaching. I had read earlier in the semester about the role of Twitter during the Boston Bombings and how people connected and collaborated using social media. I too witnessed the power of the crowd during the #ParisAttacks and saw “crowds of disconnected strangers organize and execute.” I plan to continue using Twitter after this class and I thank ISYS6621 for helping me ease back into using this social media platform.

Yes, the other MBA student who chose to drop this class back in September was right, I wont have to write a blog when I return to my job at Bank of America next summer. However, my experience and takeaways from this class will certainly be long-lasting. Thank you @profkane and #IS6621 for a great semester!

9 comments

  1. Laura, thank you for sharing this post. I remember sitting in that first class too overwhelmed by the tasks we had to perform. I questioned my abilities and wondered if I had the time. But just as I look back now, I am very much pleased by how much I have learnt and done in so little time. I really like how you added quotes in to this post and loved how you tied in Clay Sherky’s words too. It is very true that social media is everywhere and that we must look outside the box to understand the role it plays. We as individuals and future business leaders must understand Social Media very well because the digital world is changing the rules of the game and it is no longer acceptable for companies to not have a social media presence. Just like you, after all the buzz around Periscope I finally gave up and downloaded the app few days ago and am looking forward for that. I still remember your first post and the screenshot you attached showing how long ago you had stopped using Twitter. I hope now you now know how much Twitter allows us to remain updated, connected and aware of the world around us. I remember you were one of the first few to share the Paris incidents on Twitter too. Thank you for all the great content that you posted throughout and for being a part of this class.

  2. Laura, amazing job. The two quotes from Clay Shirky really sum up the powers of social media in the business world. I had a similar misconception at the beginning of the semester about social media, but now I realize it really is less about the tools and more about how they are used to interact with consumers. I think your points about Periscope can be applied in a much broader sense to all those companies that are struggling to invest time and money into social. Their hesitancy to adopt well-established platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is only putting them at a great disadvantage to keep up with the innovative companies that are already taking advantage of customer engagement on newer platforms like Periscope. I also agree with your points that social media doesn’t have to be overwhelming nor does it have to make us feel lonely. It can connect us to people we might not otherwise get a chance to get to know. especially in a classroom setting like ours. I too felt overwhlemed by the weekly deliverables for this class at the beginning of the semester but I now find them must less intimidating. However, I must say I am still on my journey to loving twitter, maybe one day I will feel less like a “to do” and more like a conversation with friends and followers. Thanks for your awesome insights!

  3. Laura, I think you perfectly described the journey to getting accustomed to the social media tools we were presented with in class this semester! I personally had never even used twitter, and now, after this semester, I can certainly see why people have/use this social tool. Though social media may not “be for me” as an individual, I think it’s incredibly useful for companies to take advantage of, and at least now I have that necessary experience.

    It’s been a wonderful semester, thanks for all your insightful blogs/tweets. Happy Holidays!

  4. Laura, I really like how you separate your takeaways or journey of this class. I think I felt exactly the same at the beginning of this class. I was so stressed about having to write a blog (because I hate writing) and having to open a new account for Twitter (which I haven’t used in forever). Even though my thoughts about blogging changed, as yours, because I feel even though I am not going to be blogging in my next job, I feel it was a great way to learned about new topics and meet new people, as you did with Sweet Greens. But unfortunately, my thoughts about Twitter didn’t change. I am really happy to hear that you don’t feel overwhelm about Twitter anymore, I think it is a great tool, but it is just not for me.
    Finally I wanted to say, that I really like your examples about what you learned in this class, going from mentioning a couple of people that had great and interesting blogs, to using examples of the class readings and Twitter discussions.

  5. This is a great post Laura. You did a nice job integrating course materials into to your post to provide clear takeaways. Sweetgreen is a fascinating brand and I’m glad I was able to learn more about it through your blog posts. They are a great example of the importance of focusing on people (whether employees or customers) in building social media tools. Also, it was one of the best snack times! I also enjoy observing how people use social media and technology in general. I agree that social media can help us connect with others, rather than draw us apart. I realized that through blog posts and Twitter discussions for this class. This class has also helped me see social media in a more positive light and I am glad I took it. I think your first point that it is about more than the tools is a key lesson from the course. I feel that the class has made me more comfortable using social media, whether it is to reach out to individuals and brands or trying out new platforms. Thanks for being such as great contributor this semester!

  6. Great post, Laura! I remember the first IS6621 class and feeling a bit overwhelmed. The workload seemed daunting and I feared I would fall behind on my blog posts or Tweets. Clay Shirky’s quote about doing things that interest us is spot-on. Although each week is busy, I always managed to find time to browse my Twitter feed and comment on blogs. In fact, I actually enjoyed it! It was a nice change from problem sets and research papers.

    Social networks are the vast fabric of humanity: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The fact that the bad and ugly exist is not a reason to avoid social media. Participating in informed discussions and spreading positivity can be a great way to combat the negativity we often find online. In my opinion, Twitter is the best way to stay up-to-date on trends and events. I wrote a blog post about how the USGS can detect earthquakes within two minutes using Twitter data – it’s an impressive platform filled with a wealth of data.

  7. Great post Laura!!! I do agree with your points on the benefits and drawbacks of social media. Like anything else, social media is not perfect and it can never be because it is just a platform for us. And heaven knows, we as a civilization are not even close to perfect. But the benefits do outweigh the costs here. If used the right way this might become the defining technology of our times. That being said, Twitter didn’t excite me when it came out, but after this class, I do have appreciation for the information collection and news aspect of twitter. I still won’t be posting much as I feel the same as 5 years ago that I don’t have much to say, especially not in 140 characters but, I’m interested in what the world has to say. Messages that have not been muddled by various news channels.

  8. What a great post. I’d agree that you don’t necessarily need to know how to use Twitter or Blogs as a part of your job. The problem is that if you don’t know how others are using it (companies, customers, coworkers), you can be at a serious disadvantage. I’m still not sold on Periscope, but we’ll see what it becomes.

  9. This blog and your previous one were both great!

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