This is the first in a Saturday blog series #usguysblogs where a group of writers/thinkers/ponders/people write on one subject. Today’s question is “Twitter: Network vs. Podium”

I’ve always likened Twitter to a cocktail party. There are some people who lurk in the corners. There are others who only talk about themselves incessantly without listening to anyone else.

When I talk to businesses (and anyone else who’s interested), I tell them not to be that second person. Because if you’ve ever been to a cocktail party, you know that no one wants to be around that type of person for long and they often end up being the saddos in the corner. Or not invited to the party at all.

I liken that to being on a podium. You, in front of an audience, talking at them. Not interacting with them. Who wants to listen to that person day in and day out? Not me.

But then I looked up the meaning of Podium. I didn’t want to miss a trick. “Podium: a platform raised above the surrounding level to give prominence to the person on it.” So that could mean that Twitter by its follower structure could give more importance to someone. Some look at follower numbers as being the be all and end all. If you have a lot of followers, you can reach a lot of people ergo you are more influential.

But the more you look at Twitter, the more you realize it doesn’t work that way. You also need to look at how often their message is passed on. Are their tweets being amplified? Or are their messages falling on deaf ears?

So for me Twitter is a network. It is its own community (and not just a platform as too many businesses consider it). Your community is the place you go to first for answers. For some it’s Facebook, others it’s a forum but for me it’s mostly Twitter. Yes, I use Twitter for news and information and often I find out what’s going in the world before I see it on TV or in papers. But it’s really a place where I can interact with people from around the world and engage with friends new, old and ones that I may meet in the future. I don’t get the negative trolling I’ve seen on forums and though I don’t always get an answer to every question I ask, I’ve discovered which ones my network have the interest to engage with and answer.

Through Twitter, I have created a network of colleagues and friends. And for my Twitter is not about seeming profound or diluting my tweets to only be those that I deem professional enough to be my public persona. I do make sure what I say is something I’d say in front of my grandma, for instance, but I also allow parts of my life in there. By doing that, part of my personality and passion comes through. For the most part, what you see on Twitter (on my personal account) is me. And I am more interested to follow people and businesses that allow that personality to come through, then those that tweet in fear. It’s more transparent and gives me a connection that lasts so much longer than with people who are too precious about what they say.

Twitter is an incredible and fluid organism. A worldwide network that has put individuals in the same room together. Thoughts pass by in a flash. I miss some but I never ponder those, as there are hundreds to follow. Twitter has changed my life – has given me opportunities I would have never dreamed of. It’s actually changed the whole course of my career. It’s a network I love to be a part of.

Though it isn’t for everyone, I hope we can maintain it as a viable, real-time network of answers, opportunities and uncensored information (that can surpass government sanctions and the tamed tone of PR). Twitter is beginning to allow people who use it to question the world around them. How could you ever consider that, or want that to be, a podium.

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