So it turns out I’m an expert on social media … and my status is complete news to me. I mean, all I did is a have a conversation with a person of influence, and apparently I knew what I was talking about, so I got the label. I don’t know if I’m am expert as such, since all I’ve done is tweeted from the heart and been the star in lots of tweef. I wouldn’t really call myself an expert at anything. I do know that I have a quick learning curve, and that I can get quite good at anything that doesn’t involve motor skills or aiming. That effectively means any job I’ve done has left both clients and bosses happy, and I’ve been described as proficient in everything from PR Consultancy to music tuition.
This week, I was tasked with talent scouting. I had to go on Twitter, blogs, and MKZ, and identify … um … experts … in various fields. I’ve been on and off Twitter for five years, and my tweets would probably be in the twelve-thousand-region if I didn’t keep deleting my accounts. So I know a little about tweeple and their online personas. Because I’m such a hermit, I’ve only met a handful of tweeps, so I don’t know for sure that their real selves are anything like their twitter selves.
For about half an hour, I scoured the Twitter corridors and came up with a longish list of names. Then I asked someone who I do consider an expert, and she came up with the same names in just two minutes, plus a few that I’d
forgotten never heard of. Yes, she’s that good, and I bow in awe of a Ninja.
Anyway, while I was cooking up my list, I noticed just how many Kenyans are on Twitter. Some lists suggest we’re close to 60,000, though I don’t know if that’s accurate, or how many of those accounts are active and/or corporate. I do know that I’ve worked with Twitter in other countreis, and the Kenyan online crowd is fairly vibrant.
Vibrance can be a good thing or a bad one, and it turns pretty nasty when you’re stuck on the wrong side of a TT. But one thing about the process made me sad. Because of the nature of Twitter, we’re on a level playing field. You can pick any username you want, so you could have five different variations of @Kim-Kardashian and not know which account is hers. You could also be tweeting your own CEO and not even know it. So if I’ve been tweeting this nice easygoing person for three years, I’d have no way of knowing they own a fleet of cars and have a net worth of 6 billion. That made it hard to tell whether @songstressdiva is a professional shower crooner or an artist with 9 albums to her name.
People were ‘famous’ and ‘gifted’ simply because I said they were, and it got pretty embarrassing when I singled out someone as a sporting professional then realized they sit right next to me in the office. Granted, they’re really good with sports, but I’d never have known who they were if I hadn’t picked them. At the other extreme, there were people I wrote off and was later told there were so-and-so, the great whatsit of whosville. For some, that made me like them more, but for others, I liked them even less.
I made my recommendations based on my exchanges with these tweeple, and my analyses of their blog presences and timelines. I looked pretty keenly, because I had justify my choices with graphs and stats and pie charts and lots and lots of red … and even then, they weren’t always agreed with. But as I looked over the tweeple on my timeline, I wondered who I might be missing. I wondered which amazing talent could be hidden behind locked accounts, poorly chosen usernames, and blank, whimsical bios. I wondered how many brilliant people I might never find simply because they’re not in my circles.
And I wondered if this kind of fluke is how stars are made – and broken.
I get this same feeling each time I discover a new blogger, and realize that this gifted writer might never get paid simply because nobody knows his url. It’s a sad and scary feeling. Still, I suppose in my bosses eyes, what makes me an expert isn’t that I know every person in the blogosphere. It’s that given a brief and a task, I have a good idea where to start, when to finish, and how to get it done. They know that when they give me work to do, I have it handled, so all I can do is my best. That, and following every single Kenyan person Twitter recommends. So if you’re suddenly being followed by a 3CB, well, now you know why.
Twitter makes us equal in a way that Guinness can’t, and it gives us access to people we could otherwise never talk to. But it makes the invisible man obscure and the IRL giants tiny. Just one more reason to watch what [and who] you tweet. As for MKZ, well, that’s a story best left for another day, but I’ll just say it one more time for clarity. I.♥.Twitter. That is all.
♫ There goes the neighbourhood ♫ Sheryl Crow ♫