What a great time to be Twitter. It's all the rage. Sitting in the social networking sweet spot that used to belong to first MySpace, then Facebook. This too shall pass when the next hot socialnet comes along. But, for now, there's something different about Twitter. And it's more than just the poetic brevity of 140 character messages.
Twitter can actually be useful.
By useful I don't mean for keeping in touch with friends or finding old flames or organizing your family reunion. We mean Twitter can actually be a useful tool at work, for work.
Unchecked, Twitter streams millions of messages from and to millions of users every day. But for the enterprising Soloist and his equally inventive Ensemble, the hottest social network of the day can also be one lean mean connection tool to get the job done. It's a practical way to stay linked with your key Ensemble members throughout the day, wherever you might be.
Establishing an account on Twitter is easy. Takes seconds. And is free. All you need is an email address. The secret to making your productive (instead of clogged with messages about what people in Europe are doing right this minute) is to make yourself invisible. Except to the folks that count: The ones on your Ensemble who are helping you tackle that time-sensitive challenge.
First, once you've gotten your account set up, go to the Settings page. At the bottom, click on the "Protect my tweets" button. This means that only the people you choose can see what you post. Next, have the people in your Ensemble select the same button. People can find you on Twitter (if they know what user name you're using) but they can't see what you're tweeting.
The next step is to choose to Follow only those people on your Ensemble. Search for their names, then click the "Follow" button when their page comes up. And have them do the same with you. The last move is to approve them (since you have to now authorize who sees what you text) and -- VOILA! -- instant Stealth Ensemble.
Now, no matter where in the office, the city or the world your tight little crew may be, you can all instantly tweet each other important updates or information from your computer or your smartphone (with appropriate Twitter app or widget). No one can eavesdrop. No one can beat you to the punch. And your team is always in contact.
It's like having that cool decoder ring you always wanted as a kid, except you don't have to scarf down ten boxes of cereal to get it.
Marc Hershon is the co-author of the new book I Hate People (Little, Brown and Company; June 2009) with Jonathan Littman. Marc is a branding expert who, through his Simmer Branding Studio, has created such memorable names as nüvi, Crackle.com and the title for Dr. Phil's book Love Smart.