Twitter can unfortunately be dismissed as a chat tool for youngsters who spend too much time in front of the blue screen. I say unfortunately because there is a powerful engine hidden underneath its impotent, cupcake name. An engine that a 1966 Pontiac GTO would happily trade for (sorry,its the most masculine metaphor I could think of …).
It may be an attempt to nobel-ize my social media investment, but I believe a strong case could be made to back up my belief that, Benjamin Franklin, if he only had the opportunity, would be found on Twitter. And I don’t mean this one.
A lengthy resume for the man, that does not fit on this post can be found on wikipedia. To quickly refresh you on some of the highlights:
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, soldier, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania. He was an early proponent of colonial unity, and as a political writer and activist, he supported the idea of an American nation.
Benjamin Franklin was passionate about communication technology and the spread of ideas. (For a fresh take on the stories behind the stories happening in this era, read (please) Steven Berlin Johnson’s book, “The Invention of Air.“) This statement is evidenced by his efforts in organizing the first “subscription library”, his career dedicated to expediting news service through his printing presses, and his position as the first Postmaster General. It was this Postmaster position that allowed Mr. Franklin to dramatically increase the speed of the information flow across the pond, which he accomplished by charting the Gulf Stream. This information flow happened to hold the revolutionary ideas regarding politics, science, and religion, that was giving birth to a new nation of independents.
Now, we have a new stream of information fueling new revolutions, and it is far faster and more secure than Ben would ever have imagined sailing on the Gulf currents, on the lookout for pirates (they still exist on this new stream). Here’s a quote I pulled from The Invention of Air, from the man himself, and I think you’ll agree that there would have been an affection for our 140 character idea publisher, regrettably known as Twitter:
These thoughts my dear friend, are many of them crude & hasty, and if I were merely ambitious of acquiring some reputation in philosophy, I ought to keep them by me till corrected by time or farther experience. But since even short hints . . . being communicated have often times had good effect . . . it being of more importance that knowledge should increase, than that your friend should be thought an accurate philosopher.
I bring this to your attention because I believe many of my clients, business owners in Edmonton’s industrial scene, have unintentionally dismissed social media as purely “social”, and I’m afraid you may have written it off too soon. As business owners, it is critical to manage time, and if not properly researched social media will give the appearance of a time-waster. Especially with names like “Twitter”. But these activities are a far cry from afternoon soaps, and if you are not using social media tools, I hope it has been a purposeful choice after fully examining the potential – not a dismissive one.
If you look to achieve an ROI simply based on increased sales, these tools may or may not be the ticket. For myself, the greatest value is in the exchange of ideas that occurs. They are simple tools that allow me to subscribe to the thoughts and actions of folks far smarter than I, ideas that I can implement, and in turn provide feedback to give back to the community.
Take a couple minutes to watch this video put out by Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the way we live, and do business,” and make sure your decision to abstain is an educated one.
I’d love to hear, what has your experience been with Social Media? How has it worked, how has it not? How do you measure your ROI? If you could rename Twitter, would you? And what would it be?!