Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What if everyone you know was on Twitter?

Think about that for a moment. What if you had a way to quickly and easily contact EVERYONE you know, in a centralized location. And it doesn't have to be Twitter, the point is, we could be heading toward a near future where we can get near instant access to most people.

How would that change your life? I've been thinking a lot about this recently, especially when I consider that in many ways, my community is on Twitter. Many people could say the same thing, or maybe theirs is on Friendfeed, or Facebook, or another site.

But what if everyone in our towns were using social media? Right now, my Twitter community is spread out over the country, even the world. Yet I'm thinking if 'everyone' was on the same social site that I was, that my community would migrate toward being more localized. That it would be easier to have tweetups locally, and make more local connections.

And as I'm thinking about this, I'm thinking of the implications for businesses, especially small businesses who thrive on local customers. Right now they might look at social media and really not be excited about the potential, because their customers ARE local. But as we move forward, and as more people start using social media, it could be a great way for most small businesses to reach local customers. People like Jason Falls and Shannon Paul are already talking about how the definition of social media could and perhaps should be broadened to include communication tools like the telephone. Think about how the world change when most everyone was given telephone access in their homes.

How would it change again if most everyone could use social media to connect with each other? That day may never come, but I think we will be closer to that point as we move forward.

Anyway these were some thoughts I had swirling around in my head that were really more than 140 characters. I'd really like to get your thoughts. What would the world look like if the majority of people were actively using social media, and could easily connect with each other? Or is that a future we even want to see? What do you think?


AnnaB said...

Good point Mack. The world is definintely utilizing social media more and more to communicate. The other side of the coin is - what if all the social networks on the internet blew up tomorrow (God forbid!)? Would you still be able to get in touch with those people. Social media is revolutionary, but at some point, we have to think about reaching out to these people whether on the phone or at Tweet-ups. Never underestimate the value of F2F.

Unknown said...

If EVERYONE I knew was on Twitter, I would start self-censoring myself as much as I do on Facebook! It only took one instance of someone in my family seeing a status update and saying "You are in town? Why aren't you making time for me?" for me to start picking and choosing what to reveal.

Sharon Dexter said...

Interesting thought. Personally, I wouldn't want to know or wouldn't want everyone I know on Twitter. This may force me to become inhibited at times in my responses and/or posts. Not that they are bad and anyone can always find them if they want, but... Hmmm..... interesting to think through this one.

Scott Schablow said...

If you lived in my teen daughter's world, you would have instant access to your network all the time. The interface? The mobile phone. The channel? SMS and AIM. She can get an answer to a question from a friend faster than I can dial the phone number. They are always texting, and IMing each other. I showed her Twitter and she said, "I don't need that when I have this," holding up her BlackJack. (She doesn't yet see the potential for 1-to-1 conversations that many can view) Perhaps as we look at our social communication models we should take time to view it from the perspective of those who are ardent communicators.

Mack Collier said...

@AnnaB that is a great point about what if the site where you network is, goes away. And one I've been thinking about a lot recently, I think there's a bit of danger in marrying yourself to just one social site.

@virginia that's a good point, hadn't considered that ;)

@scott I get what you are saying about teens/tweens getting most of the same utility from cellphones (and that ties back into the point about people like Jason and Shannon viewing the cellphone as being 'social'). My thinking was, what if you had the same tool, in this case your cellphone, which was how you were connected to EVERYONE, and everyone was connected to you. What if instead of Twitter, everyone you follow there moved to only using their cellphones, like your daughter and her friends do?

If we all were connected via one tool, how would that change things?

Scott Schablow said...

MACK, Now I see what you're saying (I'm still a little dense from illness). For me, having everyone on the same platform would increase the quality of conversation and probably the frequency as well. Currently each person in my network has a strong preference in how they would like to be contacted, i.e. Twitter, email, phone, etc. I know these preferences and abide by them. However, it creates barriers to the conversation. For instance, one of my sisters only communicates by phone. If I email her, she calls me and we play phone tag for days. The other benefit of having everyone on Twitter specifically, is that you can maintain a sense of connection in between the instances of communication. It would be powerful and enriching to be able to know what has transpired with each person and to engage them at any point along the way.

theWeir said...

well - what an interesting thought!

I'd say we'd have a global, always-on phone book. which would be fun. but of course you can block people!

great post, Mack - thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this whole localizing concept, too. Ever since Twitter really blew up in the last few months, I've seen the major potential in connecting with others on a local level AND in my inner community which is a mix of music and social media. It gets exciting every day, with every passing tweet and status update...

Stuart Foster said...

If the entire world is on Twitter do I still listen? I think that I have to, especially if the current organizational tools for cutting through the noise are still intact.

I'd also try and carry over my zealous/unbridled? sense of self and continue to build on what I've accomplished. More people=bigger mind pool. Ignore the people that add value and you will be in heaven.

Marsha Collier said...

Niche social networks are a good addition to the world wide version. By using Ning, someone can start their own private social network and invite only those they wish to stay in touch with or those who have similar interests. IMHO, smaller social networks wouldn't be as interesting as open ones

Gavin Heaton said...

When my mother was growing up in a country town, the social media was the telephone. It was exactly the same as Twitter - everyone picked up the phone and spoke. It was one-to-many conversation from across the town.

It was the job of the local exchange telephonist to connect one-on-one conversations out of the rabble. And that's where we are now, with Twitter. We are gradually finding both larger audiences and smaller, focused conversations - and we are all becoming telephonists, making connections between people. The only difference is that the telephonist is the one now identifying the caller and the receiver.

Unknown said...

Mack, it is an interesting question to ponder and my answer ocntinues to evolve. Recently, I have connected with family and old friends on Facebook. In the past Facebook was a professional connection point. I now find myself thinking before I update my status because my family now has access to "my life." I do enjoy having the ability to remain connected to friends and family, and from a business perspective having all of your customers on social media would be an excellent way to deepen relationships, ensure continuing relevancy and drive product/service improvements.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Why shouldn't the telephone be included under the umbrella of social media? It's more flexible and widely used than any other social networking tool, lacking only the exhibitionist appeal of the flavors du jour.

My mobile phone provides access to my entire network -- personal, professional, and casual -- via text, email, Facebook, Twitter and whatever new shiny tool comes along next. When I use it to actually speak to someone directly, that interaction is arguably more valueable than any other form of communication, both from a personal and marketing perspective.

As for external social networks, they will continue to come and go -- Hi, Friendster! Hey, MiGente! How you doing, MySpace? -- there will be the inevitable fragmentation as people seek out a better signal-to-noise ratio according to their specific needs and interests.

From a marketing perspective, focusing on the tools over the goals and strategy is the wrong approach. As AnnaB noted, what if the internet (or just your socnet of preference) wasn't available?

Thought-provoking post, Mack.

lisahickey said...

I love using Twitter to meet new people, and then I move them to other social networks (FB, LI, email, and yes, the phone or real-life networking events count too) to have more in-depth conversations with them. So for me what would be great is if *everyone in the world* were on Twitter, so I could meet them if it made sense, and then *everyone I knew* was just accessible in the way they are now -- different ways to access them depending on how they best communicate and whether I want that communication to be public or private.

Stephen said...

The telephone should definitely be included in the collection of Social Media tools. And, as sschsblow mentions, the digital natives are using tools like the cell-phone in ways that us older folks never would have considered 10 years ago.
In fact, look at all of the movies that do not make sense any more, because the comedy/tragedy depends on lack of connectivity. It is *hard* to get stranded or lost these days since everyone has a cell phone, even homeless people!

The thing to think about is what might be coming next, as I would submit that we have not even scraped the surface of what we can do with Twitter or its successor.

Amelia G said...

I shall be glad to know that; although most of the people whom I know are Twitter.

Anonymous said...

I think the message you are portraying is that channels don't matter, connections do. Yes, different channels have intricacies (you have to dial a phone, know someone's IM handle), but they do connect people all over the world without hesitation.

The question I hear you asking is "what if everyone were to partake from your 1-1 conversations". And the thought, as someone else already mentioned, scares me.

I want to have separation between personal, intimate, and professional lives. If EVERYONE is in one network, then I don't have that anymore and that is a large problem.

Further, if we just focus on one channel we will have the same problem we have been having with CRM and Customer Service for the past 10 years: we will miss the people who don't want to be in that particular channel. Think about it, some people chose to stay out of twitter, facebook, etc. after they tried them since they don't like the connection.

These are the same people who leave voicemails and bypass IVRs for operators, but you have to accomodate them.

Don't you think?