Hold your horses!
This isn't a news flash from Silicon Valley, just my observations from a recent social media experiment that I undertook which I think shows the strengths of both social tools and how they can compliment each other.
This came about as a result of two recent events, firstly I met with Mark Shaw - widely regarded as the UK’s leading Twitter expert. I wanted to meet Mark because I have followed him on Twitter for some while and I have been curious to understand more about his techniques and philosophies. I have used Twitter for a few years now and whilst I find it a reasonably useful tool, I have felt for some while that there must be more I can do with it. In addition to this many of my clients are somewhat mystified by Twitter and I was interested to see how Mark would explain its benefits to such skeptics. Mark is a top guy and really knows his stuff.
The second event was that at a recent networking meeting, I noticed that my supply of business cards was running dangerously low. I needed new cards but not with the previous (rather boring) design. I wanted something more modern and closer aligned to what I do. I actually think business cards are pretty important...but thats another story!
When I met Mark he introduced me to a concept he was currently working on and very passionate about. #msrfr is a very simple business referral concept - all you do is tweet a request for a recommendation of a product/service using the #msrfr tag as well as @msrfr (Mark’s Twitter account for this). Members of this ‘tribe’ will see the request and respond with a retweet, forward or @reply (recommending someone)
I had thought about how I would find a new business card supplier, I have received some great cards over the years but I never keep them. I simply connect on LinkedIn and then the card goes into recycling. Normally I would ask my LinkedIn network for help but on this occasion I thought it would be a great way to test Mark’s concept. Here is the tweet I sent out;
The response was impressively quick which is Twitters greatest strength, the immediacy is the thing that appeals so much about Twitter. I can effectively ask hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in one instant question and have my answer literally minutes later. This would not happen so quickly on LinkedIn, I might get a couple of quick responses to a status update but I would never have so much information so quickly.
Here is a snapshot of the response
The first observation was the difference between the referrers. Some were individuals, other were ‘brands’. Whilst I appreciated their help, the concept of an anonymous person recommending something to me just doesn't work. This is one of Twitter’s weaknesses - too may users hide behind a brand which for me, really lacks authenticity. Some were offering their services directly, others recommending others (which has much more impact). The ‘real’ people recommending others got my attention but there was a problem....I didn’t know any of them!
Referrals have a significantly greater impact if they are from someone you know, or a least know of them. This is also where Twitter has a weakness - the bio’s are next to useless so I had no way of validating their credibility.
This is where the combination of the two comes into play. I simply looked up one of the referrers on LinkedIn (see below) and I had real validation.
As you can see I now have much more information. I can see who she is, where she works and where she used to work. She is a 2nd tier connection (the benefit of a large network) so I can see who the mutual connection is and she has some good recommendations. My assessment is that she looks credible and therefore her recommendation carries much more weight.
As it turned out her recommendation turned out to be the right fit for me and I had ordered my new business cards within 1 hour of asking the question - what an excellent solution!
It seems to me that the immediacy and coverage of Twitter combined with the rich source of information provided by LinkedIn provides a highly valuable resource.
Interestingly Google+ has the potential to do both these things in one tool (almost) and if it really catches on with mainstream business, could make things very interesting!