Twitter conversations with meaningful impact

NOTE: This piece was originally published on September 2014. No changes have been made to the content apart from images being updated.

twitterchat1It’s no secret: Twitter chats are an essential part of your digital marketing diet. In fact, these online conversations offer valuable information and far-reaching benefits to both seasoned and aspiring professionals from any industry.

And while many will continue to debate whether some of the information gleaned is insightful or insipid,  I can certainly attest to its remarkable power—being part of a team of moderators who manage a well participated, multi-themed chat exploring the limitless possibilities of social media (#smchat).

So you may ask, “Are there a clear set of best practices that can help maximize time and thought investment in this activity?”

From my experience to date, there are some good habits worth noting. And below are some considerations. These are frank, personal impressions which I hope will resonate instinctively and be of help over the long term.


  • Spontaneity is key, but timeliness is of the essence
    Most chats are prefaced by a round of introductions. Although friendly and reassuring, I personally limit (if not completely leave out) these seemingly endless greetings (actually, I am known to just parachute myself in the midst of a chat). There’s nothing wrong with pleasant hi-there-hello’s but be focused and on point with the limited hour you have in drawing people’s attention to and interest in the discussion.
  • Digression is encouraged, especially if advancing non-obvious aspects of a given topic
    I typically refer to moments of inspiration as “sparks” and will invariably refer to this term from time to time because of its understated, onomatopoeic beauty. If you start seeing chatters branch off into tangents, join them! You will be astounded at what fresh nuggets of insight you’ll be able to sift through these exchanges.
  • Self-promotion can be awkward: attempt at your own risk
    Perhaps it’s because I haven’t actually brain-farted an e-book worth reading. I don’t know. While there’s nothing wrong with the odd, brave ‘shameless self-protwitter-chat-headermotion’ you are, in essence, owning up to two things: a) that you are willing to risk demonstrating a faint moment of egoism, and b) that you have no qualms at all with that decision. Is that really the kind of impression you want to leave?
  • Hashtag spamming is really not a good thing. Really, don’t even bother.
    In almost all scenarios, there will be a random tweet that will piggy-back off the rousing (sometimes frenetic) pace of your Twitter chat. Usually, these tweets are entirely unrelated to the topic at hand. So something like this: 1001 Ways to Improve Your Social Selling – URL – #LookAtMe #ImShameless #TwitterChat will inevitably pop up randomly in your timeline. Don’t be that person. It’s really not worth it. You’re only giving people more reason to unfollow, mute or out right avoid you.


  • A framework is ideal but sometimes not necessary
    Preparing a brief abstract that positions your theme and substantiates the various reasons why you think a given topic is worthy of discussion is, IMO, the best case scenario. Offering leading questions beforehand also helps incite reflection prior to the actual chat. This makes for more willing (and prepared) participation. However, there are some Twitter chats that simply fire off a topic and questions on the fly. Sometimes this can be equally exhilarating. However, I do notice that these types of chats tend to already have a handful of regular participants who are savvy enough to go with the flow.
  • Co-moderation is a good, sustainable format
    It’s like tag-teaming. Not only do you ensure longevity of your involvement in Twitter chats but also afford having fresh ideas circulate within your team. Online conversations on Twitter are meant to be community-driven. So it follows that having at least two people assigned to a given chat topic makes for a more pragmatic, sustainable approach to your format.
  • Echo chambers are evil. They really are.
    Yes, I myself have been guilty of contributing  to the reverberating hollowness within these accursed chambers. I don’t think moderators actually intend to come off as sounding like broken records. But I have seen a fair share of repetitive question-and-answer banter that trigimages-gellis-Image-Thematic_chatsger eye roll’s and ugh’s like an unconscious twitch. Is it laziness? Did you not have enough time to prepare? Are you justifying using your Captain Obvious megaphone because you want to help new entrants? Whatever the reason, the “define your objectives” meme is a dead horse. If you persist with flogging it to amplify canned loops of thought, you risk boring your participants. Worse, turning them off. Be daring. Ask tough questions and stir the pot once in a while so you can surface truly novel perspectives and creative input.
  • Be encouraging and inclusive
    So no, I won’t take back what I said about keeping your intro’s short 🙂 Although there is something to be said for quickly responding back to first-timers and making them feel welcome. What often works for me is keeping the tweet short and sweet,”Hi! Welcome! Feel free to dive right in or ask us any questions #TwitterChat” Most who are unfamiliar with how Twitter chats work will listen and lurk at first. But once someone acknowledges their presence and interest, they open right up and become surprisingly attentive and collaborative during the dialogue. Also, make sure you share others’ input with an RT, favourite or quote. This helps strengthen affinity and confidence among your participants, especially when they know their presence is valued and their ‘2 cents’ is useful to others, too.

Some view chatting on Twitter to be annoying; they see these random exchanges as polluting their timelines. And while the MUTE button exists for this reason, many either ignore the chatter and carry on unfazed or simply unfollow you.

What has YOUR Twitter Chat experience been like? Do share.

Braving the blockchain bandwagon

blockchain-ledgerYou know you need to pay attention to a trend when you start seeing headlines of scammers cashing in on the action.

The excerpt below—sourced from a Medium post—offers an easy-to-understand backgrounder on blockchain:

« After the financial crisis of 2008, an unknown person by the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto designed Bitcoin and its original reference implementation. Along with it, they devised the first blockchain database. The Bitcoin cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology allows users to establish trust and transact without the need for a third party through a peer-to-peer protocol.

To put it simply, the blockchain connects millions of computers and servers are across the globe in order to create a global ledger (a massive, connected and decentralized Excel file). This ledger records each time a transaction takes place and digitally posts it across millions of computers using a high level of cryptography.

Once a transaction is posted, it is grouped into a block with other transactions which have occurred in the last 10 minutes and is then sent out to the entire network. Members of the network with high computing power, called Miners, compete to validate the blocks and are rewarded using digital currency (this is how the supply of digital currency changes on the blockchain).

The block is then time stamped and added to a chain in chronological order, creating a chain of blocks that show every transaction ever recorded on that blockchain. All these computers now have a copy of every transaction. If a single computer changes this information, the network will know that this change is inaccurate. »

Thank you Kevin Neilsen Garcia for the concise 411! (Suggest reading the full article for more helpful info). Understanding the basic mechanisms behind blockchain is key to a productive discourse on the topic #obvi

Now that that’s outta the way, let me draw your attention to a recent post from Forbes proposing some implications on how blockchain’s evolution is surfacing benefits for business.

In fact, the post lends itself nicely for us to frame questions around what’s being proposed:

  • Trust – « No one can destroy or alter a blockchain.» This guaranteed state of permanence is viewed as blockchain’s singularly compelling value proposition and, in effect, naturally engenders trust to the extent that it serves to underpin the existence of huge tech innovations like cryptocurrency.

    -Apart from being touted as a ‘currency’ of trust, how else can trust be engendered by using blockchain? What other applications would work well?
  • Accuracy and accountability – particularly in digital ad delivery and targeting, the prospects of more precise ROI metrics are astounding «For example, a brand could identify ad deliveries from an ad server and release them to mining machines in the blockchain for analysis and fraud scrubbing.»Q2 – To what extent is blockchain useful in accounting for the effectiveness of tactics and or resources invested by an organization? Will it redefine metrics?
  • Unique engagement – «Information on products, especially in the consumer realm, will be instantly available to prospects who will have access to complete supply chain information as well as the full story about a single product. »Q3 – How realistic is a scenario where a prospect would gain total transparency and “have access to complete supply chain information”? Is this a bit of a stretch?
  • Social responsibility – «blockchain will help those interested easily verify that influencers for the company are true influencers meeting the brand’s criteria»Q4 – Do you agree that the integrity of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives will be strengthened, if not make an organization be directly accountable, due to blockchain?? What would be a realistic example of this?

Spice up Valentine’s day with a deep, mental massage! Hope you can join me as I moderate #smchat on Twitter – SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 at 1pm EST.



Examining the #fakenews impasse

tech_democracy_img.pngWhether or not we can call the current state of online fake news an impasse remains to be seen.

Although recent events—from allegations of Russian-linked Facebook accounts spending inordinate amounts of money to spread fake stories during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to the more recent senseless mass shootings in Las Vegas—continue to expose the pervasive effect of how fabricated information’s ubiquity can weigh over our collective psyche.

It’s a topic all too familiar, yet so difficult to wrap our heads around. And while it seems like a novel trend heavily discussed and theorized by many, as if seeking to squeeze any trace of accountability identifiable to whatever source(s) must assume responsibility, most of us know fake news is not all that new.

A recent post highlighting polling data suggests that experts are divided on how technology can effectively address the #fakenews problem. One set of respondents offers optimistic perspectives while another is leery of how we readily we tend to relegate  responsibility and control to powerful, private tech companies.

Sally Wentworth, vice president of global policy development at the Internet Society, notes that “..we are outsourcing this function to private entities that exist, ultimately, to make a profit and not necessarily for a social good. How much power are we turning over to them to govern our social discourse? Do we know where that might eventually lead?”

This philosophical rhetoric echoes similar sentiments we fleshed out in our #Trends chat in June surrounding the mesmerizing tech monopoly. For November’s segment, let’s continue our exploration in this area and don our critical thinkings hats for the hour-long convo:

  • Q1 How does #fakenews personally affect you? What is your most pressing concern about this flagrant trend?
  • Q2 Is it feasible and sustainable to “outsource” the responsibility of fixing  #fakenews to tech’s social giants (FB, Twitter, GOOG etc)? How so?
  • Q3 What makes today’s #fakenews significantly more problematic than how media has traditionally been controlling messaging before the Internet?
  • Q4 Will regulating social media companies lead to effective solutions that stem #fakenews?
The mesmerizing tech monopoly

The mesmerizing tech monopoly

A recent post from The Verge, managed to surface one jaw-dropping perspective:

By positioning themselves as the platforms on top of which information technology across every sector now runs, these titans of tech become the new centers of gravity for our economy, growing in size, scope, and influence while everyone else struggles not to fall too far behind.

These tech titans include the likes of Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook. The article highlights some compelling stats with respect to the unprecedented growth of these seemingly indomitable giants.

Does this blatant top dog landscape sit well with you?

For our June 2017 segment of #smchat Trends, let’s take a few moments to satisfy our curiosity by exploring this phenomenon and its implications:

  • Q1 In a best case scenario, what good would tech monopolies do? 
  • Q2 What type of tech poses the most threateningly disruptive impact? 
  • Q3 Despite protest we continue to consume the fruits of these titans. What exactly are we compromising (if any)? 
  • Q4 Can open source efforts like blockchain help democratize tech the way it was meant to be?
  • Q5 Are you concerned by tech dominance at all? How so? 

Join me on Twitter, Wed June 7 2017 at 1 pm EST for #smchat’s usual hour-long #powerchat

Related Reading

Lapsed marketing

Lapsed marketing

Are you a “lapsed marketer”?

So here I am randomly blogging after what, a two year hiatus (?) and outta the blue I ask whether or not you’re exhibiting symptoms of Marketingus lapsisus. Sounds like a hideous disease but there may be more to this #fake scientific name than you think.

Allow me to walk you through this by first going down memory lane. This may be slightly painful, so bear with me.

Anybody can do marketing

Right? #AMIRITE ??

That’s what a few people suddenly found themselves saying during the Great Recession of 2008, especially following that subprime mortgage fiasco we won’t go into.

I’m not suggesting hordes of people lost everything and suddenly became marketers overnight. I have no specific data to support this claim. However, I distinctly remember encountering and interacting with a host of Twitter profiles back in ‘08 who were all very clearly evangelizing the magic of Marketingus followmeitis, relentlessly bullhorning brand and bait in the name of self-actualizing goals!

Nothing wrong with that. And some may well have transitioned themselves successfully as bone fide marketeers. So, is it true? Can anybody do marketing?

Self-employed pro’s, consultants, artisans and the like do it themselves all the time!

That said, marketing may look like the type of job anybody can do. But it obviously depend8bce7501cb8c8bb6114e11166035be1ds on the context, audience and scale. Enterprise level marketing, for instance, requires specific skills, technical knowledge and field experience. Not only that, you must truly be agile, transmutable and ahead of trends before they emerge.

The unforgiving digital age

During the halcyon days of social media, where online networking was experiencing its own version of Woodstock, the wild wild west of social marketing started rearing its ugly–—I mean, was also burgeoning.

Continue reading “Lapsed marketing”