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HR Toolkit: Idea of the Week

Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods

Contributor: Shel Israel
Posted: 09/21/2009

Twitterville is primarily a business book. It is filled with examples of how people in all sizes and kinds of business are using Twitter to thrive in these tough times. It explains how Twitter and social media shine some light to the exit from the current economic tunnel. These are times of enormous constraint. History shows us that constraints always lead to fundamental change. Old ways die and new ways emerge and thrive. Twitterville argues that in these tough times, certain business practices—those that have become bloated, inefficient and ineffective will fall by the wayside only to be replaced by newer, better ways. New, cheaper, faster technologies almost always replaces ones that have become frayed by modern times.

Picking up on a theme of Naked Conversations, Twitterville argues that we have already entered into a new Conversational Era, one that is replacing the old Broadcast Era, whose approach is simply too costly and ineffective. This has been going on for a while, but now, businesses wishing to survive these tough times, wise businesses will accelerate their migration to social media. Their second choice is to take a one-way trip to Jurassic Park to join other fossils who could not meet challenges for change in their times.

Twitterville champions all social media and recommends that businesses choose the right combinations of tools that are now in the vast social media arsenal. But it points to Twitter as a tool that almost no company should overlook. Why? Because it is the most intimate of social media tools. It lets people in business get closer with customers, partners and other ecosystem members. It is fast, inexpensive, the barriers to entry are close to non existent and the community is quick to forgive and forgive minor gaffes to new Twitterville community members.

Most important, Twitter, lets people behave online almost exactly how they behave in real life. Conversations often start on everyday subjects—as they do in real life. Two people chat about weather, sports, movies and yes, what they had for dinner. Over time they get to trust and understand each other. They begin to recommend to each other items to buy, watch, listen to or visit. They influence each other in ways that no advertisement can compete with. These simple, frequent conversations dwarf the influence of a newspaper ad.

I call it Twitterville, because it has the feel of a small town, a place where neighbors know each other by name and reputation, help each other through a sense of community a place where the greatest influence is achieve, not by a branding budget, but the contributions made to the community.

But Twitterville may be the world's largest and fastest growing small town. There are at least 3.5 million people there and it is growing faster than any megalopolis in the real world. The people of Twitterville come from scores of countries and speak many languages. Yet it remains a small town. Twitterville resides only in cyberspace, where geography is almost irrelevant. The space is virtual, but the relationships being formed there are real and powerful and have already begun to reshape businesses.

Twitterville looks at more than a score of examples of people in global enterprises and in home offices; people in retail, service, emergency preparedness; candidates and shows how they are using the small town, personal, transparent little teaspoonfuls of conversation to transform their businesses even in these tough times. They may not be thriving today, but as times get better, as businesses get closer to the inevitable light at the end of the tunnel, they will be in a better position to thrive than entities that fail to meet the urgent challenges of change that these tough times require.

Contributor: Shel Israel
Posted: 09/21/2009