I wonder how many uses for Twitter are nothing even close to what Twitter’s inventors initially imagined. The program built to answer the question “what are you doing?” has helped to answer countless other queries from “what do you find interesting?” to “what’s bothering you now?” Twitter also has been used to broadcast when bridges are closing, changes in weather, or to give live streaming updates on conferences and events, where it was otherwise difficult or impossible to do. These aside, there are even more uses Twitter could have, but do not currently.
As a member of a couple virtual teams, I love the application of Twitter for small or large virtual businesses. When a team is rarely in the same city, let alone in the same room, short status updates are crucial, keeping all members of the team updated and informed. Though a small team can be easily managed through a quick status update tool, supervising a large team using freely available applications like TweetDeck is extremely simple.
Imagine a Presidential campaign team trying to drum up votes leading up to the National election. Now imagine the free tools at their disposal if they desire to use Twitter to keep their ground teams motivated and coordinated. Using a 100% free application, a campaign director in Northeast Ohio could check on the status of her local managers on the ground in Columbus, Cleveland and Lorain. Those managers could be reporting back on how much progress they’ve made each day, as well as retweeting some of the success stories they’ve heard from their team: “Met an older gentleman – so grateful to learn more about Obama’s plan 4 Iraq. Thinking about changing his vote.” Using a free program like TweetDeck or CoTweet, the campaign director could not only supervise her managers, but micromanage the people on the ground, spreading important information about key talking points. She can also learn quickly what techniques may be working especially well, or who some of her top performers are at a quick glance.
Though there are other ways to deliver status updates in a much more private setting, Twitter is a decent (and free) way to keep your team in touch if it’s hard to get them all in the same room. If it’s hard to keep people on task and as a manager you hate writing short quick emails asking “what’s the progress on that project?” maybe it’s time to get a little creative and use other tools that encourage brevity and allow employees to lighten up a bit and forego the pomp and circumstance that often exists in long, drawn-out email threads.