Seacoast resident Leslie Poston describes herself as a speaker, social media strategist, business development consultant, independent film marketer, trainer, social media enabler, writer, insomniac. And if you use the social media microblog called Twitter, you’ll note that her description almost perfectly fits into the 140 characters allowed for each post or “tweet.” She and fellow social media enablers Laura Fitton and Michael Gruen have co-authored an entire book on Twitter. She also organizes social media breakfasts around the region to raise awareness of the power of the tweeted word. Twitter for Dummies, eh? You probably get a lot of grief for the title. Not really, since it is for the “Dummies” series by Wiley and people have become used to the phrase. However, there is a lively “Twitter for Dummies”-bashing thread over on FriendFeed from the social media cynics.So where do you think we are in the whole social media era: is it winding down? It is just getting started, and the social media landscape will look very different by the time this arc is finished. Take the immediacy and engagement of Twitter, the connectedness of, well, everything, from Twitter and FriendFeed to Facebook and other services, add in geolocation (think GPS), micro tagging, merit scores and better mobile technology, and you will see where this is all headed.Twitter is the butt of lots of jokes, but it was a serious communication tool in the recent Iranian elections. Are there other serious sides to Twitter? Twitter has made a world of difference in so many ways, whether it’s social media for social good — helping families find homes, building wells in Africa and more, all using micro donations via Twitter — social media for issue awareness; education; politics. Twitter was instrumental in the Obama campaign, yes, but it has found so much new traction that the Pentagon has released a public Q&A on how to best use micro blogging technology in government. Heck, even churches are tweeting their services now!A lot of offices are either trying to, or wishing they could, eliminate social media from the workplace, viewing it as a waste of time. Are they wrong? Yes, they are. Just like anything else, from pencil sharpening to photocopying body parts, any technology can be used by the unmotivated to waste time. Unlike the photocopied body parts, however, Twitter is actually a very useful tool for most businesses that should be encouraged and molded to fit the company’s culture and guidelines. If you ran Twitter and could change one thing, what would it be? Searchable and organizable followers/following/direct messages in the user interface.
This article appears in the September 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine