I don’t tweet very often — maybe about once a week. Sometimes, I’ll share humorous links on Twitter, but I reserve most of the funny stuff (like suburban dads rapping) for Facebook because I know my friends and I share the same sense of humor. But on the whole, I rarely tweet about issues that are really important to me. Want to know why Twitter doesn’t work for me?
Imagine two circles. One contains every aspect of your life that you’re willing to share publicly. This is your public circle. The other circle — the private circle — contains every aspect of your life that you would be willing to share privately to a trusted audience. Of course, some of what you’d be willing to share to a trusted audience, you would also be willing to share publicly—but how much? A lot or a little?
That’s my issue. My public and private circles barely overlap.
For professionals, most of our intellectual energy is focused on work-related issues. Sharing thoughts, getting answers, thinking, executing…that’s what we do all day. While I see how social networks like Twitter can be very effective for some professionals, particularly those in marketing, many of us have too many proprietary concerns to share our thoughts to the general public. What do you do, for example, if your most important work-related thoughts are corporate secrets?
I manage the Socialtext sales team, and am the executive responsible for generating revenue. I have the best and earliest visibility into our company’s financial performance (at least the revenue piece). I know our competitive strengths and weaknesses, our initiatives and business strategy. I know the key new customer prospects we are working with and hoping to sign. I see market opportunities and want my company to be able to take advantage of them before others.
Am I really going to tweet to the public about these issues? Of course not. Would I love it if the VP of Sales of my competitors tweeted about them? Absolutely.
But since Twitter doesn’t meet my professional needs, that doesn’t mean that I’m against social networks generally. On the contrary. Facebook definitely works for my personal interests. I’m a family man, happily married, coach my kid’s sports teams. My family grows avocados on a ranch (we have never called it a farm) in Carpinteria. We love great food. I love history and even wrote a history book. But my Aunt Betty just doesn’t much care for my ruminations on pricing strategy in large, complex accounts or how to manage & empower high-maintenance sales super-stars. And I don’t always ruminate. More often than not, I’m trying to get information or answers. So what now?
The answer, and why I joined Socialtext, is that private social networks for enterprises combine the productivity value of public social networks with the privacy needs of most professionals and corporations. Socialtext is a leading provider of enterprise social software.
The ability to share information, links, and knowledge quickly and easily, and without burdening people with unnecessary e-mail, really appeals to me. I was particularly excited about our secure, private microblogging tool, Socialtext Signals. Just as many of our customers use Signals throughout their organization, Signals has been a game-changer for the Socialtext sales organization. Every day, our sales executives are on the phone or WebEx with prospects who are firing questions at them. A quick Signal, and seconds later the sales executive has the exact answer they need, even to very technical or unusual requests.
Several times every week, most of our bosses ask us for something important and urgent. Secure enterprise microblogging is dramatically more effective than email or the phone to answer them because the whole team benefits from our responses. It’s very much like the activity stream in Facebook, which a half billion people love. But instead of sharing your vacation photos, you’re sharing notes from the critical meeting you just had with a prospect and inviting those you work with to help if they can.
Because Signals exists in the workplace, the relevance of content is much higher than Twitter, too. The common complaint about Twitter is the ridiculous tweets like “on a bus, eating a doughnut.” This just doesn’t happen in corporations that are using enterprise social software because it’s against company culture and not productive.
Since I began using social software — and Signals in particular — I’ve personally seen about 70 percent fewer emails. Imagine coming back from vacation (or a weekend) and not having an overload of emails. The e-mails I do receive today tend to be more relevant, one-to-one communications — conversations that had to be private between me and one or two other people.
So while many of us don’t have as much use for Twitter in our day-to-day lives, Signals is a corporate microblogging medium that is incredibly valuable for sharing openly, and getting answers that helps drive your business forward.
Stay Signaling, my friend.