I found a new use of Twitter–quickly connect to an entire community.
Well, I did not necessarily discover this on my own, as it has been a recent topic of discussion on one of the discussion groups I follow, Online Facilitation. One of the members of the group sent a Twitter follow request / email invitation to the mailing list itself, which in effect invited anybody and everybody in the community to click the link to then follow this person via Twitter.
Brilliant idea, I thought–how better to communicate with a group of people with similar interests than by sending a Twitter invite to the entire group! If we share this interest in online facilitation, as I thought about it, then perhaps sending this sort of Tweet to everybody in the group may in fact move the communication to a more public area (Twitter) , where people can continue to connect in another forum. Isn’t this what facilitating community is all about?
However, the issue of this being discussion board spam or an accident has also been raised. Here, I thought it was a brilliant community outreach (there are many people on the list I do not know nor have I ever met or seen) that tried to bring people together, while others perceived a similar outreach as more discussion group clutter. I know I usually do not actively seek people out on Twitter or any of the other social media (a bit shy, fear of rejection, or desire to be unobtrusive?), so when I get these invitations from others who have some similar interests, I am usually appreciative of their efforts. That this came in a spam-like blanket that does not offer any immediate benefit for the current community (Twitter conversations would, of course, occur outside the current community) is also a very real concern. This is like sending donation emails, self-promotion communications, or even adverts to a discussion group, most of which are frowned upon. What surprised me the most was how little discussion this really did generate at all.
That once again Twitter (I Tweet here, by the way) is used in an unintended way that sparks discussions that previously did not exist is a testament to how significant I really believe this technology to be.
What do you think?