Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Review of Twitter For Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time

I don't work for a non-profit, but I do run my own consulting business. I do many things within Haines Consulting involving words, language and communication, but I don't run digital media campaigns. Most non-profits are trying to reach people in the world who will give them money, helping the non-profit reach its objective, its population in need. Twitter is a mass, awash, aflow, with people twittering about everything. Some need help, others are there waiting to help. Twitter For Good is a book that calmly guides non-profit media managers through those twittering hordes without coming across a fool, spammer, crackpot, loser, or a jerk, in that order.

Despite my outlier status with my non-profit friends and colleagues, I have some interesting (crackpot?) insights about Twitter, borne of spending the past five years of my life studying it. @ClaireD has been with Twitter for most of that time, which for me meant it was a treat to read all the nitty gritty details surrounding various non-profits' successes and the "fail whales" too that have blown up starboard under her watch. Sipping wine from the Fledgling Initiative, I digitally flipped through Twitter For Good, fondly recalling many a campaign she noted. By the end of the book, fortified by the wine and knowledge of how non-profit ninja social media directors twitter away for good, I noted : "examples used, especially the failures, wonderfully illustrate how to use Twitter effectively." While it took me a few dozen pages to adapt to it, Claire's style of writing is so honest and off the cuff, it was refreshing by the end to have read in such plain speak the way certain early campaigns led the way, which for me gives the book great authenticity. Claire did well leveraging her writing style (her voice in the book seems identical to that on her blog's), for I found it seemed to help magnify the bigger successes that were borne out of early failures. (Note: I read the Kindle version and made my notes public so check them out. How I read: I received an advanced copy of Twitter For Good, which came in a format I had to read via Adobe Digital Editions. Try as I could to read from my desktop in my kitchen (it may as well have been a hardcover edition tied to a concrete block with a 10 foot chain) I still had to buy the Kindle version to get any real reading done on my iPhone 4. I promptly downed the book along with a good bottle of Twitter Wine. So shout out to @ClaireD for the book, thanks Steven PJB (RIP) for the reading experience, & thanks @Biz for the fledgling wine.)

Twitter is like that. Early Fail Whale leads to big success. Twitter is under dynamic and constant change. It fosters VBC (Very Big Change). People are using it for everything under the sun these days. Which is remarkable considering I've yet to read a great book about Twitter that adequately deals with the nature of this profound type of communication. I've read many books, blogs, tweets, emails about Twitter. Nothing stupendously great though. Not yet. It's obvious a lot of writers must be out there slaving away at The Great Book of Twitter, but IMHO no one has really hit the streets with such a thing. Claire's book isn't quite The Great Book of Twitter, but it is highly informative, down to earth, and ought to be the first of many books to read when one is marshaling a non-profit on Twitter. Twitter For Good will help people who are in the business of helping people reach an audience and hopefully find success there.

My mother, who blogs as often as the next 75 year old, still doesn't tweet much. Since she's been a reading teacher for 50 years (she retires this year!) I expect she's not on Twitter because she hasn't read anything great on the subject. The profound power this simple tool has unleashed on the world is staggering, even without most American grandmothers on board. Without Twitter there would be no Facebook updates, there would be no Google+ and whatever comes next. There will always be something greater coming down the pipe, but nothing as big and as important to human communication as Twitter has already shown us in 140 characters of less.

The trick to communicating with people on Twitter successfully on behalf of your non-profit organization is to follow the simple outline offered in Claire's book. Conveniently it's an acronym. Apparently it's all about snappy acronyms in these here types of information books these days, but I'll spare you the secret sauce details. If you work for a non-profit and you're not on Twitter, you should at least be aware of this book and know it's clever secret sauce acronym. Secure a copy wherever you buy paper or ebooks these days, bring it in to the office and impress your boss with your initiative by describing in detail every step within each letter of the acronym du jour as laid out in the book. If you don't/won't work for a non-profit, you still might be aware of this book since it will help describe why certain non-profit media managers are following you on Twitter and interact with you in a fairly well-documented manner. That type of understanding can help anyone who is tasked with moderating the company Twitter account.

My job over the past several years has involved data. Twitter data will be mined for many many reasons in many many ways; the revolutions will come and go all using Twitter data for their ends. All of this can and will be used for good, all while the greedy seek a gain from it. Twitter For Good is a book about doing good with Twitter, not exactly by working with heaps of data (it does a solid job glossing tracking and lists), but with simply getting on the platform and using it on behalf of your organization. If you want to know how to use all the data, contact me. I'll put together a list of what you need to read and who you should be talking to.