When Twitter Becomes Another Job

So you’ve finally decided that social media is worth your attention. You’ve gone through the process of questioning the business propositions and how emerging media factor into your going concern. You’ve got a blog or two, some Facebook pages and maybe several Twitter accounts to handle your various channels. In other words, you’ve been through the early stages of adoption.

It’s now 2010. Twitter’s becoming a staple of communications – like the telegraph was a long long time ago and the telephone a less longer time ago. It won’t be long before tweeting and other contemporary forms of communication become ubiquitous (in some form or another). That is: there’s a chance they’ll become someone’s job.


So here’s the weird tension of today’s communication media and platforms:

  • Communication needs to be personal, energetic and sincere
  • Business is business (translation: work has to be accomplished)

Traditional business communications relied on stable, predictable and staid styles. There was an understanding that corporate communications were boring (not to mention talk-to-the-handish).

Today (at least in the B2C world), people literally unfollow stable, predictable and staid communications (unless there’s a specific need for that). Today, the expectation is that at the other end of the keyboard or smartphone is a human being. Moreover, it’s a definite boon if that that human is cool.

Fun is cool. Boredom isn’t.

A job is neither cool nor fun.

Work, on the other hand, can be fun and cool. (Yes, work – unlike a job – can and must be fun.)


Most businesses have been set up as giant machines and the people run to hire them trained to operate mechanically. That way of getting things done may have worked under last century’s technological conditions, but today’s technologies demand supple musculature that can’t be met by mere machines and their gear-work.

In other words, businesses who want to be successful on the web can’t afford to fund boring jobs. Boredom is not only unhealthy, it’s also counterproductive.

If you’re committed to the long-term opportunities and challenges posed by the ramifications of emerging media, you will have to invest the time and efforts in designing business environments that are far more human than they are technological.

Of all the challenges posed by social media, perhaps it’s the costs of re-designing the workflows of business that aught to receive the greatest attention. You can blog and tweet and update your status on Facebook all you want, but if the people doing the work are bored or burnt out or angry, then you could lose whatever social capital you created via those platforms.


Who you hired always mattered. But now, who you hire matters more than ever.

If there’s one thing that today’s workers – from the C-suite to the frontline – need to be it’s Polymath. Polymaths didn’t do too well last century. This Century? Well, this century belongs to the Polymath – yes, we finally get our revenge. 😉

But of all traits of successful leaders on the web, it’s humor that is most important.

I’ll be blunt about this: Stupid people aren’t funny.

I know that’s cold, but it’s true: you don’t want people who are only good at following directions. You need people who can lead the way even if there’s no map. Because on the web, there really isn’t a map – the whole terrain is evolving.

So here are a few tips for socially healthy business design:

  • Use emerging media to find potential hires
  • Identify the humor bones in your organization – could they take part in the work of social media?
  • Hire funny people. I’m not kidding: they’re usually bright, creative and easy-going.
  • Encourage – not discourage – internal use of social media. Set the tone properly: these media are compliments to business intelligence gathering and networking.
  • Tear down the Interruption office (more on this in a future post). Basically, it means this: take away tools that interrupt people from thinking and doing what they do. (This is ironic in light of social media, but constantly demanding employees’ attention with email and phone calls and meetings is utterly counter to effective production.)
  • Seriously consider how to roll out a work-from-home arrangement. BUT: make sure you incorporate ways for employees to socialize in real life.

If Twitter becomes someone’s job, you might as well turn off the account. The human use of human beings is always a tricky thing to work out. But in today’s technologically-infused and saturating world, human is worth a whole lot more for successful businesses than it’s ever been. And that’s a good thing for us all.

Humor. It’s an important word. Humor is the essence of human. And human is the essence of today’s business.


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0 Replies to “When Twitter Becomes Another Job”

  1. For pharma, there need be no contradiction between revenue generation and the social good. However, in order for that promise to be realized, pharma needs to find actuators: to demonstrate in a quantifiable way the resolution of ideals that it has been happy to purport to uphold, but less willing to manifest.

    To date, it has been lousy at this.

    We roll our eyes as we see yet another ‘we’re really serious about putting the patient’s health first this time’ campaign, however it is dressed up, in whatever context it is disseminated, knowing full well that the next criminal action for off-label promotion is just around the corner.

    Yet there are people working in pharma who aren’t there just to pick up their pay cheque. They care. They really do exist. They are a tiny fraction of the people the industry employs. They are pushing water uphill, but they turn up every day and do it just the same.

    I admire them.

    Commentators, agencies, pundits and pharma/health conversation critics of all stripes (of whom I am one, and you, Phil, are another) are adepts of the fine art of skewering the industry. However, as you ably demonstrate above, they are often equally adept at ignoring variants of the same shortcomings in their own organizational structure.

    I just love your idea of email, phones and meetings being a waste of time for employees tasked with getting things done in the social web. A simple idea that is irrefutable in its logic, and yet will make most managers blood turn to ice (I think http://bigthink.com/ideas/18522 is fabulous, by the way, and thanks for sharing. An immediate RSS add)

    We’re all part of the problem. We can all be part of the solution: being human(e)


    This is the sort of issue the

    1. Thank you, Andrew

      I think that in discussions about the business value and return on investment of these media, that the investor’s perspective has been lost.

      The approach to return has largely been placed within the lens of Marketing (that is, on the Revenues line of the income statement). But that’s myopic: it’s actually the Equity section of the balance sheet that matters the most. By focusing solely from the Marketing view, so much else of the enterprise’s operations are tossed aside.

      I think we need to develop an Investor Perspective as a way to dovetail the need to establish business value while securing the mandate to serve patients best.

      All financial transactions are ultimately the manifestation of social relations and transactions. Labor expenses are the result of labor relations. Materials and Supplies are the result of relations with vendors. Therefore, the entire enterprise’s operations – not just Marketing – need to be incorporated into the discussion.

      I haven’t seen that done much, so I guess we’ll have to lay that out soon. 🙂


  2. To get social media to really work, in healthcare or any other industry, you’ve got to have someone who enjoys being social – and that usually means they’re funny and engaging, and you’ve got to have an employer willing to let them jump into this new medium and flair around for a bit to see what works for their particular organization. You’re right in that flexibility on both parties’ parts makes the social media thing much more fun.

    I am fortunate in that I work for a company that was willing to let me jump into the social media realm so much that it has now become my full time job. And I’m doubly fortunate that I’m able to do it from home a bit.


    1. Hi Jennifer –

      Absolutely agree – organizations definitely need people who are social and comfortable being online.

      Consider yourself very luck!


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