Take My Copy of Twitterville

Yes, it’s true. I want you to take this book out of my hands. I’ve read it, it’s great, but now it should be yours. As I’ve written before, I won this book from Beth Kanter and the author Shel Israel, with a promise that I’d pay it forward. So it’s your turn to elbow and claw your way through the throngs of hungry readers with your insightful comments, but first a few reflections to whet your appetite:

  1. While I’ve loved Shel’s previous work, I did expect this to be a well written “capitalize on Twitter’s exponential growth” book. In fact, it’s incredibly insightful, with great profiles of people and companies using Twitter in really creative ways. It stretched me. It’s also completely accessible to beginners. A fine line that Shel seems to have walked perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised.
  2. It challenged some decisions I’ve made – decisions that were strategic and thoughtful when I made them. For example, using the organization name and logo instead of the person’s name and photo, even when they are tweeting for the company. I’m still chewing on this one. In the meantime, I’ve edited @DarimOnline to show that it’s mostly, not entirely, Lisa at the keys. I’m curious how others think about offering this “human face” and transparency while still promoting the brand and, perhaps most importantly for many small organizations, creating continuity if/when staff turns over.
  3. I was reminded that you can start small and casual. As one guy from Ford is quoted, “Twitter was… the country store, where people came in and out and shared their gossip, and there I was, sitting by the pickle barrel.” (pg. 85)
  4. It’s more about listening than about talking. It’s so counter intuitive to so many of us that it can’t be said enough.
  5. One person in the organization can actually lead major change. So many examples were about one person in a large organization using this little tool in their remote cubicle, and it seeped into company culture because it was so darn useful.

So… that leads us to the question: How is Twitter useful for you? Alternatively, you can share your best piece of Twitter wisdom, or a Twitter-related question you’re wrestling with. We’ll choose our winner around Sukkot. And… please leave your Twitter username with your comment so we can check you out!

Where Do You Take Your Pulse?

We all compare ourselves to others. It’s natural. How do we measure up compared to that person, that organization, that company. We often compare ourselves to the competition, because we need to stay just an inch ahead in order to compete. In the Jewish community, that often means looking at the other synagogue or school just down the street. We take the pulse of our immediate surroundings.

We’re taking the wrong pulse.

The people we’re trying to reach are comparing their experience with our Jewish communal organizations against every other organization and company they are dealing with in their day-to-day lives. We don’t get a free pass to have mediocre customer service or out of date information on our web site, or poorly formatted e-newsletters.

In today’s marketplace, we’re competing for attention. People don’t allocate 10% of their attention for Jewish causes, they put their attention where they find quality, value, social capital, and authenticity.

Thus staff and board members of Jewish organizations would be wise to expand their gaze, and learn from examples in other nonprofit organizations and the for-profit world. Even the trends that big corporations are responding to are applicable to local Jewish organizations, and today can be accomplished with no additional out-of-pocket dollars, and little (sometimes saved) staff time.

As Shel Israel writes in his new book Twitterville, companies like Dell and Comcast have pulled their reputations out of the gutter by putting real people out on the front lines of Twitter to listen and respond. Innovative companies like Zappos have made this culture of “paying attention” part of their company ethos. There’s a lot to learn from these guys.

Want to learn more? We’ll be giving away a copy of Twitterville soon. Next week we’ll be asking you about how you listen and pay attention to your community, and how you’re using social media to do so. Start thinking …

What other companies or organizations do you see as useful models for us to learn from? How have they inspired you?

How I Won a Copy of Twitterville (and you can too!)

Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble) has a new book, Twitterville.

Beth Kanter was giving away copies Twitterville the other day. I saw it on Facebook (I’m a fan of hers) but it was also on Twitter and her blog. (She’s a pro at making the most of multiple channels, without leaving me feeling inundated from every direction. It’s a real art.)

Beth periodically runs contests like this. She asks people to leave a comment responding to a particular question to enter the contest. It’s not random — she picks those whom she thinks are most deserving or will make the most of the prize. What I love about these contests is that by having a public entry process, she creates a forum for interesting people to share their work and ideas. I always learn something from reading the other entries.

So I left a comment saying how much I appreciate this approach to surfacing great ideas and practices. And heck, if giving away the book can do it, if I win, I’ll re-give-away the book to surface more good things, specifically in the Jewish community where we work.

She loved the idea and I won the book! (Well, to be honest, by the time she announced the winners she had about a dozen books – there were so many good responses that the author kicked in some copies, she found more promo copies, and others bought copies to add to the contest!) You can read about the results here.

And the punchline is … Shortly we’ll be putting up our own blog post to give away the book (once I get it, and read it). We’ll be asking about how you’re using Twitter in strategic and goal oriented ways. So start thinking about it, and experimenting on Twitter so you’ll have something juicy to share when we announce the contest. And, as always, you’re welcome to share your experiences (what’s working as well as what you’re challenged by) in the comments here.

P.S Another great Beth post on Twitter: How nonprofits are using hashtags

What you’re favorite Beth Kanter nugget of wisdom? Leave a link in the comments.