CASE STUDY: ‘I’m showing two colleagues Twitter. They say they don’t get it…’

It’s always good to show people Twitter when they don’t use it themselves.

Isn’t Twitter Stephen Fry talking about his tea? Isn’t it a load of noise? Isn’t it a waste of time?

I was sat with two people who don’t get Twitter.

Instead of explaining, I asked Twitter a question. It’s sometimes amazing the response you get.

I posted the following question:

Then several people started to chip in with what they thought.

@Mike_Rawlins posted something daft about #brewcamp. This is an event I’m looking to do with Mike and a few others.

Then @adrielhampton posted. It can amplify what matters to you. When I showed them his Twitter profile they started to get interested.

“He’s from America,” one said. “How do you know him?”

Through Twitter I told them.

“So who is Will Perrin?” they ask.

“Oh, he created the e-petition platform at 10 Downing Street. He does Talk About Local. They support hyperlocal blogs.”

I show them some hyperlocal sites they’ve not seen before.

I talk about Pits n Pots in Stoke-on-Trent and a few others.

We talked about how we could use the platform for the council.

Minutes passed.

I log back onto Twitter and there were a stack more replies waiting.

“Are they interested in anything?” one posted. “Find experts in that. Fast. Find their friends. Find themselves.”

It’s all good stuff.

Their faces change from confusion to awe.

“I’m starting to see the point now,” one said.

I show them hashtags. I show them how I can find out what’s happening at Stoke City, in local government and I show them the UK Govcamp hashtag #ukgc11.

I show them #xfactor because that’s a TV show that one likes.

I tell them that you can watch TV and get a real time running commentary on the programme you are watching via Twitter.

That gypsy wessing fly-on-the-wall programme they were talking about. I heard all that on Twitter and I hadn’t even got the telly on.

I navigate back to Twitter.

US people who specialise in emergency planning had started to contribute.

“Situational awareness, direct connectivity to public, better engagement,” one tweeted.

“Wow,” my colleague said.

One tweeter reminded me of the @savebenno campaign on Twitter.

What was that?

That was a campaign to highlight the unfair dismissal of a 2nd XI village cricket skipper.

It ended up with the team I was playing for playing a Save Benno XI.

“Wow,” my other colleague said.

“It’s starting to make sense now.”

Join the Conversation


  1. Fab post Dan.

    When I was at the ‘I’m not interested in what Stephen Fry thinks’ stage, Twitterheads just said ‘Oh well you have to try it, that’s the only way you’ll understand’. Which of course meant I didn’t, for ages. And I have to admit to having been guilty of passing that same ‘advice’ on to others. Now I will just refer them to this post. Job done.

    Oh, and I’ll tweet it, of course. Thank you.

  2. Great resource which I will happily retweet from @3dsectorfutures – even more so as I now know I’m not the only person who sneakily checks on Stoke City through twitter 🙂

  3. Dan, Fantastic blog.

    I have had many similar conversations myself, very satisying when the light comes on!

    We ran #bsp24 last week where all police incidents in South B’ham were tweeted over 24 hours, and it was a real success. I am shortly to be promoted to Supt at Wolverhampton, so I may give you a shout regarding getting a wider understanding amongst your counterparts there.



  4. As well as being able to see what other people are doing and thinking, I have connected with people on Twitter, who I otherwise would not have ever known about, who I now count as friends. Anything that brings people of common interest together and provides and broader spectrum of topics for our mutual learning must be a good thing.
    Have a Great Day!

  5. Fab demo Dan! I bet they went home and set up accounts that evening. It took me a good 6 months after I first started using Twitter to realise who else was using it and how it could be useful to me. Now it’s my main source of information (other than my addiction to using Google reader), it really helps me do my job and make useful contacts. I like the serendipity effect too 🙂

  6. Amazing post, Dan. This should be required reading for the stragglers out there who aren’t on Twitter yet because they, like your colleagues, don’t get it. I think the concept of something as broad and open-ended as Twitter as opposed to e-mail or Facebook can intimidate some people and prevent them from taking the plunge. Twitter can be whatever you want or need it to be, and having someone actively demonstrate that as you did has got to be a true revelation! Good stuff!!

  7. I guess I’m still a Luddite. I don’t need up-to-the-minute information about a TV show I’m watching… because I’m watching. I don’t have many followers so my Tweets go unnoticed. There isn’t anyone in the world I need to follow and get minute-by-minute reporting on what they’re doing. (Who cares what Snookie thinks right now?)

    Is it a time/speed thing? Am I just too old at 48 that a stream of unrelated text flying by holds no interest for me? I’ve been playing video games and writing software for over 30 years. It’s not that I haven’t grown up with technology.

    I just don’t get Twitter.

  8. Great blog post about Twitter! I’m looking forward to the day when more friends/colleagues join. But even in our little community of #musictherapy -ists, it’s kind of snowballed over the past year with users. I love twitter for a million reasons.

  9. That’s a pretty interesting subject Dan. Twitter has so many positive aspects attached to it and has become more and more part of our daily lives. Nowadays, shocking news are first posted on Twitter. Hehehe… It’s such an awesome micro blogging platform. I enjoy it every day.

  10. One thing I do agree with about Twitter, is that you rarely get an answer
    to a question if you ask one. Not even “I don’t know”.

  11. Ha ha, fantastic. And if they didn’t set up their twitter account even after this, well, they are going to regret something seriously! 😀

  12. Still Twitter is overrated. Like running commentary on a TV show. Do you really care? Perhaps you do, but many people don’t. It has its uses, but they are mainly over-hyped.

  13. Great post, i’ll use some of these techniques when explaining the joys of Twitter to the uninitiated!

  14. Pingback: Quora
  15. Wow. What a response from people. Thank you very much for taking the time to read it and post a reply.

    To think I very nearly didn’t post this. When you use social media a lot some times you forget that so many people just don’t get it.

    It’s not always the big picture that allows for a Eureka moment. It’s the little thing.

    That I can use Twitter to check cricket scores when I was away from the TV and radio was MY own tipping point. A whole raft of other things followed.

    I think the trick is to make that little connection. That’s something that’s going to be different for everyone of us.

  16. Excellent post. One of the better introductions to Twitter value and purpose I’ve read. Straight from the keyboard. Pointed application verification. That you’re a GB based blogger and I’m in the US is validity in the technology. I found your blog via Twitter. The conversation begins. Continue.

  17. I’m not a huge Twitter user. I don’t follow a lot of people and my own followers are fewer still. Even so, I have found a lot of value in following others who are well read in my areas of interest, I can’t subscribe to (or read) everything but I have been pointed to some real gems by referral on Twitter.

  18. For me Twitter is all about the coffee.

    It’s the coffee you drink with colleagues during a break from work, where you discuss work stuff, but also discuss your commute into work, what you saw on TV last night, what bizarre thing you just saw, the weather.

    It’s the coffee you drink whilst browsing the web and when you find an interesting web site and you post the link to your blog, in an e-mail, on your VLE.

    It’s the coffee you drink in a coffee shop, where you’re reading the paper, reading a book, chatting.

    It’s the coffee you drink in the Library reading a journal, a book, writing stuff.

    It’s the coffee you drink with fellow delegates during a break or at lunch at a conference. Where you discuss the keynotes, the presentations, the workshops, where you are going next, your hotel, the food, the coffee, what you do, where you’re going, what gadgets you have in your gadget bag.

    Twitter is about these moments, but without the physical and geographical limitations. Twitter also allows people from different institutions, different sectors, different organisations, different departments to share these moments.

    When you decide to follow someone, ask yourself could you drink coffee with this person, would they drink coffee with you?

    At the end of the day Twitter is all about the coffee.

    Excerpt from

  19. To the commenters who complain about the hype or about things it provides that they don’t think they would care about the content mentioned (e.g., Snooki’s whereabouts, TV Commentary) then don’t engage in those topics. If you’re interested in anything and like the internet, chances are you can find content that you find valuable/interesting/educational double quick.

    Back to the hype point, you don’t get 190+ Million active users ( based on hype, you have to deliver on your value proposition in order to do that. ~200 Million people (1/3 Facebook and growing); business people, protesters, activists, journalists, politicians, artists, entertainers, nerds, trendsetters, jetsetters, scientists, technologists, athletes, comedians, fathers, mothers, sons & daughters can’t all be wrong.

    Yes, there’s a lot of fluff on Twitter, but there’s also a whole hell of a lot of enriching, real-time, well-targeted information available at your fingertips. Used correctly, Twitter can make your consumption and understanding of internet content much more efficient than can you know without trying it.

  20. Pingback: The Dan Slee Blog

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply