Twitter: The Value of Good Conversation

When the topic of Twitter comes up with colleagues, I often hear the “I don’t get it” excuse.  Sometimes I fight the good fight and show someone a demo (and the small community I have connected with always responds – thanks for the support, gang).  Other times I cave and just quip, “Well, Twitter is not for everyone,” and I let people try to figure it out for themselves.  A client I met with today actually thanked me for introducing him to Twitter months ago, citing the timely news (usually on Twitter before many other sources) and content from some really smart people out there.  He admittedly wasn’t that intrigued at first.  On Twitter, many folks share personal details like what’s for dinner, how much they love caffeine or the occasional banter about the Red Sox.  These conversations help us get to know contacts more personally, but can at times be perceived as noise.  On the flip side, I often find new tidbits of knowledge, a valuable link, a good story – and they make the time spent that much more worth it.

Tonight I took a peek at what was going on and happened to catch a very insightful gem of a conversation between two folks who have helped me work my way up the social media learning curve over the past several months. Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) heads up the social media team at Ford, and Christopher Penn (@cspenn) is Chief Media Officer at the Student Loan Network (among his many other social media credentials).  Here’s what you get when you take a passionate finance guy and put him in a virtual room with a passionate brand guy.  (Note: I reversed the order of the conversation from how it appeared on Twitter so it would read sequentially like a transcript.)

cspenn: @scottmonty How much of GM/Ford troubles are UAW related vs. core business expenses?
ScottMonty: @cspenn Let’s be clear: Ford’s situation isn’t nearly as precarious as GM’s. We’re prepared to execute our plan with or without Federal $
cspenn: @ScottMonty OK. That said, do the Detroit shops have a bigger handicap due to UAW than the Japanese shops?
ScottMonty: @cspenn 2) Recent big quarterly hits have been related in part to one-time healthcare costs.
cspenn: @ScottMonty serious question, why isn’t bankruptcy on the table for GM? Is it that essential to America that tax dollars must be risked?
ScottMonty: @cspenn 3) Lack of unions in some of our competitors make it difficult for us to be profitable on some vehicle lines
ScottMonty: 4) But overall, we’ve been working on restructuring our product mix and flexible manufacturing over the last 2 years that is now under way.
ScottMonty: 5) The goal is to have best in class fuel economy in every segment, give millions of customers affordable fuel economy.
cspenn: @ScottMonty Interesting and insightful. Is there any way for Detroit to free itself from unions or is that baked in forever?
ScottMonty: @cspenn Re your union question: I don’t know. It’s had a long history in Detroit (and Ford was the last to join).
ScottMonty: @cspenn Bankruptcy for GM would mean thousands of suppliers/vendors would be at risk. Cascading effect would be immense (and take us down)
cspenn: @ScottMonty what source would you recommend for reading to dig more into a GM bankruptcy? Would love to see the chain.
ScottMonty: @cspenn There’s a good graphic that illustrates it in a recent Merrill Lynch report on the auto industry (Nov 3, “The ‘Big Bang’ Theory”)
cspenn: @ScottMonty Cool – link? or not publicly available?
ScottMonty: @cspenn Not publicly available. I can fax you the page if you want.
cspenn: @ScottMonty That’d be wonderful. 206-350-1208 thanks! (also the podcast comment line!)
cspenn: @ScottMonty Only upside I can see is if in bankruptcy, GM and others can jettison the union for improved survivability.
ScottMonty: @cspenn I hear you. Don’t know if that would ever fly, though.
cspenn: @ScottMonty sometimes, it’s fly or die. maybe they’ll get that NO one is entitled to anything you don’t work for one day.

Thanks to Scott and Christopher for the great and candid dialogue, giving personal insight to a big corporation’s challenges in the current economy.  Have some other ways Twitter has added value for you?  Would love to hear ’em.

Photo credit: gi via flickr

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  • The concept takes on a whole new meaning when you introduce it internally as a MicroBlog and set it up for keeping minutes/discussion from a meeting. [Similarly how I got hooked by doing same from conferences — there’s a strength in that scenario in the right context 🙂 ]

  • The concept takes on a whole new meaning when you introduce it internally as a MicroBlog and set it up for keeping minutes/discussion from a meeting. [Similarly how I got hooked by doing same from conferences — there’s a strength in that scenario in the right context 🙂 ]

  • I like the fact that Twitter hasn’t quite exploded into mainstream. It’s a hidden little gem that keeps people like us abreast of things before everyone else sees it on CNN. The service is surely seeing massive growth year over year, but still not sure if it will ever take on the size of a facebook. As you say, so many people just don’t quite “get it.”

  • I like the fact that Twitter hasn’t quite exploded into mainstream. It’s a hidden little gem that keeps people like us abreast of things before everyone else sees it on CNN. The service is surely seeing massive growth year over year, but still not sure if it will ever take on the size of a facebook. As you say, so many people just don’t quite “get it.”

  • Nice post, Adam. I believe I’m the mysterious client referenced, so I’m happy to have inspired your post. I’ve definitely found a number of interesting tidbits and insights on Twitter, so I’m happy you made the introduction. Plus, while the rest of the world was watching the election results, you kept us up-to-date on the Celtics score via Twitter. 🙂 @kevinertell

  • Nice post, Adam. I believe I’m the mysterious client referenced, so I’m happy to have inspired your post. I’ve definitely found a number of interesting tidbits and insights on Twitter, so I’m happy you made the introduction. Plus, while the rest of the world was watching the election results, you kept us up-to-date on the Celtics score via Twitter. 🙂 @kevinertell

  • @rotkapchen I’m a big fan of capturing info from conferences, but haven’t quite seen it used as capturing minutes or discussion in a meeting…the right context would be key, but this one was more like watching a live chat. I often wonder how many other good and relevant conversations I’m missing.

    @Len K – Funny you mention it hasn’t exploded into the mainstream and getting news ahead of CNN – CNN is one of the networks embracing Twitter. There are some who would argue it has become mainstream, with cover mentions on Fortune magazine, ABC News during the election, etc. I agree I can’t imagine a day if it was as popular as Facebook.

    @Kevin – thanks for the “reveal” – I didn’t want to mention you without talking to you first. I’m really glad you are getting value from twitter, and thanks for the comment. Beware, comments like that will get you more followers 😉

  • adam

    @rotkapchen I’m a big fan of capturing info from conferences, but haven’t quite seen it used as capturing minutes or discussion in a meeting…the right context would be key, but this one was more like watching a live chat. I often wonder how many other good and relevant conversations I’m missing.

    @Len K – Funny you mention it hasn’t exploded into the mainstream and getting news ahead of CNN – CNN is one of the networks embracing Twitter. There are some who would argue it has become mainstream, with cover mentions on Fortune magazine, ABC News during the election, etc. I agree I can’t imagine a day if it was as popular as Facebook.

    @Kevin – thanks for the “reveal” – I didn’t want to mention you without talking to you first. I’m really glad you are getting value from twitter, and thanks for the comment. Beware, comments like that will get you more followers 😉

  • Adam, thanks for capturing this. Since the messages fly by on Twitter so quickly, sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate the full extent of back-and-forth conversations such as these. (Hmm…is there a TwitterTranscript service out there somewhere?)

    But because tweets are limited to 140 characters, there are some complex issues that don’t get the chance to be fully debated or explained. We live in a world of soundbites, where people seem to be focused on the last 5 minutes or on what can fit into a single sentence. At a certain point, it’s important to explore things more broadly.

    For example, in a later tweet this morning, @cspenn mentioned that our conversation concluded that “unions are holding us back.” I didn’t explicitly say that – in fact, I acknowledged that our competition don’t use unions and that makes us less profitable on some vehicle lines. There are people out there who are pro- and anti-union who could debate the impact of the union ad infinitum, and I didn’t want to get into that on Twitter, nor do I think it’s appropriate for me as an official representative of the company to debate it.

    I think Twitter is a valuable tool for sparking debate and answering quick questions. But what you’ve demonstrated Adam, is a way to capture such conversations, bring them to another forum, and allow the conversation to continue. The challenge for the marketer or interested party is to be able to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. But that’s another topic…

  • Adam, thanks for capturing this. Since the messages fly by on Twitter so quickly, sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate the full extent of back-and-forth conversations such as these. (Hmm…is there a TwitterTranscript service out there somewhere?)

    But because tweets are limited to 140 characters, there are some complex issues that don’t get the chance to be fully debated or explained. We live in a world of soundbites, where people seem to be focused on the last 5 minutes or on what can fit into a single sentence. At a certain point, it’s important to explore things more broadly.

    For example, in a later tweet this morning, @cspenn mentioned that our conversation concluded that “unions are holding us back.” I didn’t explicitly say that – in fact, I acknowledged that our competition don’t use unions and that makes us less profitable on some vehicle lines. There are people out there who are pro- and anti-union who could debate the impact of the union ad infinitum, and I didn’t want to get into that on Twitter, nor do I think it’s appropriate for me as an official representative of the company to debate it.

    I think Twitter is a valuable tool for sparking debate and answering quick questions. But what you’ve demonstrated Adam, is a way to capture such conversations, bring them to another forum, and allow the conversation to continue. The challenge for the marketer or interested party is to be able to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. But that’s another topic…

  • The opportunity to capitalize on this stuff to build and sustain community, particularly for interactive marketing, is pretty interesting but, even today, still see intransigent problems with marketers using social media vis-a-vis inappropriately using the communications medium, coordinating the different media like twitter and email in some coherent strategy, and failing to track the results from the different media as feedback into the marketing intelligence loop.

  • The opportunity to capitalize on this stuff to build and sustain community, particularly for interactive marketing, is pretty interesting but, even today, still see intransigent problems with marketers using social media vis-a-vis inappropriately using the communications medium, coordinating the different media like twitter and email in some coherent strategy, and failing to track the results from the different media as feedback into the marketing intelligence loop.

  • Great post, Adam. Hard to explain the value until it is experienced. But, that’s everything in the marketing world isn’t it? People need to understand the value of the experience, or actually experience it themselves before they can really sink their teeth in it. We live in the “Experience Economy” as Jim Gilmore terms it. Funny how I didn’t get it either until I experienced it first hand.

    I wonder how we show people the overall experience of Social Media in an easy way. Showing conversations as you have here I think is a great start.

    Love to see clients using Twitter – welcome @kevinertell!!

  • Great post, Adam. Hard to explain the value until it is experienced. But, that’s everything in the marketing world isn’t it? People need to understand the value of the experience, or actually experience it themselves before they can really sink their teeth in it. We live in the “Experience Economy” as Jim Gilmore terms it. Funny how I didn’t get it either until I experienced it first hand.

    I wonder how we show people the overall experience of Social Media in an easy way. Showing conversations as you have here I think is a great start.

    Love to see clients using Twitter – welcome @kevinertell!!

  • I resisted for two years: Big mistake. My access to great ideas, good conversation, smart people plus referals and leads has grown by 600 contacts–a third of that this week. Twitter creates community and is good for business, as long as that is not our objective.

  • I resisted for two years: Big mistake. My access to great ideas, good conversation, smart people plus referals and leads has grown by 600 contacts–a third of that this week. Twitter creates community and is good for business, as long as that is not our objective.

  • Adam, very timely. I value the good conversation as much as anyone and I conclude that though it’s 140 characters, we have to be selective of the words we choose. More to the point, the value of your words can hold even greater value depending on who you choose to share them with. So the value holds true if the conversations are not about driving, eating, watching, bathing etc. As soon as people realize that they’ll get more out of twitter by being selective of the people they follow-the sooner they will see a higher and greater return in the conversations they have. great post.

  • Adam, very timely. I value the good conversation as much as anyone and I conclude that though it’s 140 characters, we have to be selective of the words we choose. More to the point, the value of your words can hold even greater value depending on who you choose to share them with. So the value holds true if the conversations are not about driving, eating, watching, bathing etc. As soon as people realize that they’ll get more out of twitter by being selective of the people they follow-the sooner they will see a higher and greater return in the conversations they have. great post.

  • @adam – great post! you clued me into this conversation last night as it was happening via twitter and I enjoyed watching along. i’ve had many similar conversations about twitter (even to the point of open ridicule by family members), but the result is nearly always the same… they thank me at some point down the road. ps… i have to admit, i was completely distracted by the category cloud you have up there in the sidebar.

    @scott – re: transcription… you might want to check out Tabbloid from HP. You can send it a feed (i.e. a search string from search.twitter.com) and it sends you a roll up in a nice tidy package (that’s meant to be printed… on ink… preferably from HP).

  • @adam – great post! you clued me into this conversation last night as it was happening via twitter and I enjoyed watching along. i’ve had many similar conversations about twitter (even to the point of open ridicule by family members), but the result is nearly always the same… they thank me at some point down the road. ps… i have to admit, i was completely distracted by the category cloud you have up there in the sidebar.

    @scott – re: transcription… you might want to check out Tabbloid from HP. You can send it a feed (i.e. a search string from search.twitter.com) and it sends you a roll up in a nice tidy package (that’s meant to be printed… on ink… preferably from HP).

  • Great Post Adam! As I mentioned to you, your post inspired me to share my blog post How Twitter Can Save The World about my own Twitter story of how I helped one of my Twitter followers who had a flat bike tire find a bike shop in downtown Boston. The quality of conversation and people willing to help others on Twitter is always amazing to me. Again fantastic post, keep up the good work!
    @eric_guerin

  • Great Post Adam! As I mentioned to you, your post inspired me to share my blog post How Twitter Can Save The World about my own Twitter story of how I helped one of my Twitter followers who had a flat bike tire find a bike shop in downtown Boston. The quality of conversation and people willing to help others on Twitter is always amazing to me. Again fantastic post, keep up the good work!
    @eric_guerin

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