- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
One thing I have learned about Twitter is that it can be a powerful multiplier that gives individuals an opportunity to join a collective voice to praise, criticize, endorse, or question people and organizations in a way they would not have been able to before. Twitter is a great megaphone, and the community's use of retweeting and trending topics facilitates a quick snowball effect. That makes it a great place for accountability, customer service, collaboration and feedback - in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors - as individuals can easily talk with and about those who serve their communities.
One of my first jobs included the responsibility of coordinating much of our leadership's travel, and in that capacity, I spent a decent amount of time on the phone with airlines. I remember one time the whole office watched on in horror as an hour-long conversation with an airline representative - well, actually I think I was passed between three or four representatives - ended in a minor screaming match with a woman named Elaine. I was so frustrated when I got off the the phone that all I could think to do was write a very stern letter to the airline's president. Now, when I think back on that expereince, and others like it, I would have loved to tweet the issues I was having if it was available then. At least I would have felt like people shared in my pain, and I could provide some feedback that might get a more sympathetic reader than an intern tasked with responding to all complaints with a template letter.
If I had been able to quickly and easily air my grievances publicly and build support and a conversation, the airline representatives might have felt more compelled to respond. For example, last year Michael Arrington wrote about how Twitter changed his customer service experience with Comcast; while calling the company repeatedly didn't seem to get him very far, his frustrated tweets and the ensuing discussion prompted an apologetic call from the company within 20 minutes. Also, as Kari pointed out on the Social Citizens blog recently, this group power can be applied to nonprofits just as easily, so they need to establish their social media presence and begin participating proactively in a two-way conversation with their constituents.
A few new tools are making it even easier for individuals with feedback, questions and problems to grow into groups, who will continue to apply pressure and increase the probability of a response. One such tool is Act.ly, which allows people to join together and start petitions target individuals and organizations using Twitter. Some of the most popular petitions so far have targeted news outlets, government heads, Facebook and Google. The platform allows visitors to retweet petitions to add their support and to view responses by those targeted. It improves the power of the Twitter community by keeping count of the number of people who have signed each petition, so you can easily see the collected support for issues in a distributed tool like Twitter.
And I don't just appreciate Twitter's power to complain. Individuals can also use it to collectively inspire and incentivize problem-solving. Another site allows people to join groups focused on solving big and small problems is ChallengePost. The recently launched marketplace allows people to post, support and financially incentivize challenges ranging from creating new iPhone apps to making Mars livable for humans. If you aren't up for posting an entire challenge, ChallengePost encourages people to simply tweet their wish and add #cpost, so others might express their support for a common wish or take steps to expand it into a full challenge. For problem solvers out there, there are currently challenges with rewards with rewards ranging from $15 - $10,700, with pledges sure to grow as people find challenges where they want to pitch in for a solution. Check it out and add, support or solve a challenge today.
Whether it's getting the attention of a company, government leader or other seemingly unreachable target or building a call for the solution to a problem, Twitter is giving individuals power to form a pack and be heard.