Thursday, January 28, 2010

Twitter as a Community Building tool

We are just about to roll out a strategy that hinges on CoP. We have so far implemented a Ning site for the project, identified the people (Community Coordinators) who'll be responsible for their department and a week long workshop is coming up early next month with Etienne Wenger.

All seems to be in place except I am wondering will Ning be enough? Will it be enough for the Community Coordinators (CC) to feel safe and is it be able say to the CC's that they are not alone in this.

I feel that it may not be enough, my rational is, Ning is an intermittent support mechanism, good for having an in-depth discussion and provides room for greater collaboration but the opportunity to build and nurture a relationship could be cumbersome. I think this is where Twitter has it's strength. It provides an unintrusive synchronous space to say everyday "I am here, I am just a click away".

A good relationship takes time and commitment to show you care, Twitter allows space for this to occur overtime. The fact that it brings the message to you (being proactive) when compared to Ning where you have to visit the site to get the message (reactive) makes a huge difference. Of-course the other strength is that one post reaches out to all the members, it re-enforces the relationship/bond of the community, "we are here for each other". We have enabled RSS on the Ning site but it doesn't have the same feel to what a Twitter update has.

Now our challenge is how to get the CC's to use Twitter productively. We are hoping to use Twitter in the week long workshop to showcase the power, 'the power of togetherness'. We'll get the CC's signed up to Twitter the first day and will get them to install a Twitter client on their laptop.

The idea is to run Twitterfall everyday for the week, hoping it will get their attention and highlight the strength of Twitter. The use will be modeled by members in the implementation team who have used Twitter for a few years now.

The good news is we have 3 CC's already on Twitter, hopefully they'll be able to help us.

Will update this post with comments as the workshop progresses on February.

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