The unbelievable Oregon coastline. (Photo: liquidskyarts)
Six weeks ago I conducted my first social media travel experiment. I posed a simple question and let your responses to me on Twitter and this blog dictate exactly what I did on a 12-day roadtrip with my brother from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada.
No packing or planning was done before jumping in the car (the best proof of this: I needed a friend to FedEx my passport to Seattle so I could get into Canada).
I’d done the trip from SF to Mexico several times, often meticulously planned, and this trip — my first up through the northwest coast — was both more fun and less stressful. Here is the progression of my “tweets” (Twitter entries), beginning with the first question…
Off Wed. on a road trip with my bro from SF to Portland, Seattle, then Vancouver. What are your top B&B and must-see picks? B&B rec’s pls! 02:26 AM June 17, 2008
Voodoo Doughnut’s delicious Maple Bacon doughnut and meth-high-inducing Grape Ape doughnut.
Any recs for vancouver meetup spots and sleeping? Must do’s? 04:36 PM June 26, 2008
Day 12-Fly Seattle to SF for $98 on Alaskan; ship car from Seattle to SF for $640 www.ableautotransport.com = $ than hotels and gas 09:44 PM June 30, 2008
Links above, when not written out using shorthand from SnipURL, were added for this blog post.
200 Tweets – My Thoughts on Practical (vs. Addictive) Uses of Twitter
I don’t follow anyone on Twitter. To some, this is sacrilege.
Let me explain the main reason of several that I don’t follow people:
Imagine that you send an email to 10 people inviting them to a party, but you BCC 100 more casual friends who are uninvited. How will those 100 feel? Offended and somewhat resentful, just as I would.
Twitter is like this: all followers and followees are transparent. I can’t follow a single person without risking irritating hundreds. This problem is the same for someone who has 40 followers as it is for someone with 40,000. I avoid the drama and politics by following no one. I do this because I don’t care to be a hypocrite (low-information diet, etc.) and do care about my followers, not because I’m uninterested in them. I track some of my followers regularly but don’t “follow” in the formal sense.
I “follow” my close friends via food, wine, texting, and — for old classmates — Facebook.
Here are several quotes about Twitter relevant to my 3 personal rules of Twitter use:
“Twitter is a community. It’s not all about you. Engage your peers by asking them questions”
–Micki Krimmel, video blogger and host of Mickipedia
“Don’t try to impress–just be yourself. But go a little beyond your comfort zone; share something you’re hesitant about sharing.”
–Evan Williams, co-founder of Obvious, which created Twitter
[my panel interview with Evan here]
Here are my 3 basic “Twittiquette” rules of using Twitter:
1. Add value if you consume attention.
I use Twitter as a “micro-blogging” platform, exactly how it’s most often described. Just as I wouldn’t put up a blog post that reads “just ate a burrito. Mmmm… good,” as it consumes readers valuable attention without adding value, I wouldn’t put up such a post on Twitter. On the other hand, “Just had an incredible mahi-mahi burrito at [best unknown taco stand] in San Diego. Must-eat: www.website.com In NYC, try: www.website2.com” adds value with actionable details. Mundane perhaps, but still a cool “to-do” that ethnic food lovers can tuck in the back of their heads.
Some self-indulgent tweets are fine, but make sure 90%+ help or entertain your readers somehow. Information empty calories are parasitic.
2. Use the tool for its best purposes and ignore the rest.
Use a tool for what its best suited to do. Don’t make a Swiss army knife out of every social media tool or you’ll end up with nothing but overwhelm, passive-aggressive “friends,” and a dozen separate inboxes.
I use Twitter to broadcast time-sensitive suggestions, questions, events, random facts, and happenings, and other ideas that don’t justify an independent blog post. I don’t want another IM program.
I hate page view-driven sites that force features on users in the quest for more clicks. 500+ unread messages on Facebook? 600+ unread requests on LinkedIn? That’s what e-mail is for.
3. Linking is fundamental to adding value.
Twitter is perfect for honing your word economy and value-to-attention contribution: offer a brief takeaway and quicks links to more resources for those interested. Minimal attention impact for the uninterested with gateways to more goodies. Here are a few recent examples.
Thanks to all for the killer suggestions for my trip! Much crazier stuff coming if you want to follow me here.