Twitter...yet again. Stephen Rose over at Fast Company has discovered a new use for the beast: Following the activities of business contacts with whom you want to ingratiate yourself.
Twitter (skip this paragraph if you know) is a micro-blogging service. You use it by "tweeting" posts of up to 140 characters. You can tweet from your PC or your phone, and you can arrange to follow other people's tweets. If you're sufficiently interesting, others may follow yours. And that's all. Twitter is the most trivial important application you'll ever run across.
Sample tweets: "Heading for HI," "At bat next," and "Have stomach rash shaped like Vatican."
Following contacts' activities is incredibly powerful. If you're in sales, knowing what your prospects are up to lets you establish rapport even more effectively than talking sports. And rapport is the first step on the way to closing a sale.
Except--and this is just the problem with Twitter--it's so personal and yet so very public. Why should I go to the trouble of tweeting my day-to-day activities just so salesmen can accost me more effectively? Do I really want them waltzing up and asking how the stamp collection is coming along and whether I've been able to clean the stain where old Bowser horked up the reptile? Not especially. It's probably age (I have a lot of that), but I'd prefer that the general public's knowledge of me be limited to posture, height, gender and taste in legible T-Shirts. Anything beyond that I reserve for friends and family.
So perhaps Twitter (like most things Internet) is generational. Job-terminating Facebook photos don't seem to worry 20-somethings--why should personal tweets? Maybe the next generation is fundamentally more sociable that mine (even unto liking strange sales people). My attitudes are clearly out of fashion. Perhaps this can be fixed. "Twitter therapy" might one day help me loosen up and join the mainstream. But for now, I'm signing off. Though I have had my final tweet (the one about the Vatican) printed on a T-shirt.