Monday, December 14, 2009

The Air Force Is Tweeting?!?

Normally I think it is pretty lame when organizations think they need a Twitter account or a Facebook page just because it is the latest and greatest trend. In fact, it is this very mentality that has basically created a new market of internet nerds dedicated to helping companies "optimize their marketing on the web" and "communicating their brand through social networks." I would venture to guess that many Generation Y'ers would likely be broke if it wasn't for this large organization bandwagon mentality. I had heard that the Air Force was trying to integrate into the social networking world and honestly I thought the result would be comedic at best. However, after reading this article I think that the Air Force has actually actually selected a great platform to stream constant job updates and new services offerings to a potentially large audience.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr. The Web is fueling society's digital hunger for real-time information and dialogue, and officials at the Air Force Personnel Center and the Air Force Services Agency are serving up the first course.

Two Twitter accounts currently are being managed by the public affairs office staff here: AFCareers and USAF_Services.

Twitter is a free micro blogging site where users post messages, called tweets, in 140 characters or less, from a computer or mobile device.

In my previous BadskiBlog post entitled "Tweens, Emo Kids, And Why I Am Liking Twitter More & More" I laid out some of the reasons why I think Twitter is an incredibly useful tool. My main points were:

1. Information Pull - You receive tweets only on people you follow. If you don't think they add value to your daily dose of information consumption you don't follow them. You are no longer being bombarded with unwanted or worse unwarranted information. I only pull what information I want. For the newbie to Twitter who only view this as a 140 character status update for tweens and emo kids I am sorry to say that you are mistaken. Most bloggers, news outlets, etc. post active links to their content or other people's content they deem important and/or relevant. So instead of browsing five articles or blog posts in an hour I can now 'pull' hundreds of micro blogs or tweets to me with links to the full paged content.

2. Information Filtering - Of the information that I pull, I am obviously not going to read it all. If I read everything I wouldn't be able to do anything else, like some phone zombie (my wife probably argues that this is the case at times). More information is available today than ever before in the history of the world. Tomorrow will likely be the same given the absence of a massive catastrophe. As time goes on and technology continues to shrink the world by expanding our interconnectivity as a species, information overload will become an increasing problem. Your ability to navigate what information is valuable to you will become more and more important. Twitter allows me to do that. Just because I follow someone on Twitter doesn't mean that I am going to like all the content they distribute. I am sure if you are reading this there are probably plenty of BadskiBlog posts that aren't your cup of tea (insert any metal post here!). Twitter allows me to quickly scan a short description of the full length content and decide in a split second whether or not it is worth my time. If you do this on your phone you can literally fill your down time throughout the day with some information mastication. Your tweet inventory is likely to always have some information you deem important for you. Great for those trying to live the Pareto principle (book review to come on 80/20 Principle).

3. Information Sourcing - Well won't I just get stuck in a tiny microcosm of the world reading the same people's opinions over and over? Short answer is no. The transparency of Twitter allows you to see others who are following the people you are following. If you want you can follow them and navigate through some of their content. Or for the lazy people out there you can merely sit back and wait for the people you are following to acknowledge someone in a tweet. By replying to someone's tweet you will start your tweet with @randoguysnamehere which will allow others to know who you are citing as well messaging the person you cited. Kind of confusing but when you see it in action you will know what I am talking about. This allows you to see who people you are following deem important enough or relevant enough to interact with. Pretty interesting stuff going on and an opportunity to weave your way through peoples soft connections and into some new information or content.

Somebody on the Air Force staff gets it. And they obviously get it enough to know that tweeting job postings and new services is an incredibly effective and appropriate way to make use of the three principles above. I think I am actually going to follow them…

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