How to Engage and Learn From Twitter Chats

TwitterVsTruthTrustTalentHave you ever wanted to get a glimpse at “the making of” a job search chat on Twitter? The decision that we made (a little bit me and a lot of Steve Levy and Cyndy Trivella) to move Open Mic Career Chat (#OMCchat) to Friday at Noon happened because we had good metrics on that time slot for a chat and because it seemed that the regular followers on Thursday evenings were never able to get together at the same time. Yes, we do talk and prepare for these things! Above all else, the three of us agree wholeheartedly that it should be uber-organized but not involve heavy lifting. What we do is a gift… NOT a business. We are not searching for sponsors to monetize this, but it is an obvious place to help people if it is done right. Why does this work?

In our daily lives we have the advantage of seeing those around us in 3D. When we dip into our cyber reality several of those multidimensional aspects become cloudier. Whether or not we are totally aware of this process, body language, voice intonation, and sometimes an invisible projection of intangibles contribute to our believability of the person speaking. When I tell chatters on Twitter to engage all of their crap filters it is because the message is often not what it appears to be. Most job seeker advocates are sincere in their desire to help, but as we know there is a lot of static. Among the experts there are also pretenders. Not all who profess to be experts are bona fide experts. So how can you tell if somebody is a fake or a credible source? How can we attract a wide audience when we have declared war on the traditional chat format of being overly nice to everybody?

In order to keep it on track it is necessary to know some of the danger signs and how to address them. There are not a finite number of characters, but here are leading candidates for the “Sad Seven.”

  1. Not-so-hidden Agenda – A veiled sales pitch for a service, product, or branded concept may be helpful only to the seller and not to those who are desperately seeking answers applicable to them. The author of a glitzy book title or catch phrase will seldom be objective about their advice, so expect to be called out for pandering.
  2. False Projection – Preaching that all should accept a truth supported only by anecdotal evidence or hearsay statistical references leaves obvious gaps in complete understanding. Most will back away or offer excuses when pressed for evidence of their “truth” sprayed for general consumption. I will always ask for proof.
  3. Jargonizing – Using a popular saying, statistic or cliché to make a point has its place in the discussion, but simply parroting a popular viewpoint in order to appear knowledgeable may not be appropriate. A failure to revel sources of information is a clue that the advice is not applicable. Just because somebody famous said something doesn’t make it true.
  4. Negativity – Individuals that always resort to one-upmanship to prove how miserable their lives have become refuse to give up and move on. Their input may be useful in showing that bad things do happen to good people, but basically they are toxic and don’t offer much meaningful input. I may not call you out on this one, but I may ignore you.
  5. Groupthink – This is the tendency of some people to promote harmony and minimize conflict rather than providing a realistic appraisal of the situation. This is not to say that the chat environment should not be cordial, but it is wrong to perpetuate bad advice when so many are counting on good answers. The Twitter suck-ups have a fertile ground for their drivel here.
  6. Narcissism – Probably the easiest bad advisors to detect are those who offer solutions to others in such a way that it only flatters themselves. Much can be learned from the experience of others unless their ego gets in the way of presenting a clear and accurate account. Thanks for giving us fodder for the “worst of” topics.
  7. Absolute Fakes – Finally there is advice that comes from those who are afflicted with a puzzling need to be something they are not. Offering job search advice from an HR perspective should come from someone with actual HR experience. Finding problems and then taking an opposing viewpoint gives people the ability to “fix” recruiting, culture, and just about any other need.

In spite of all the fakery and foolery, a chat session on Twitter should be the epitome of connecting through social media. As old friends are seen joining the chat there is always a virtual hug given and an acknowledgement of their presence and expertise by other chatters. This is a huge meeting in a room bigger than life where there are literally millions of global impressions in a one hour session. In spite of its flaws, it remains one of the best sources of critical information for a job seeker. Every participant has the right to speak, but this also carries a responsibility to be honest and true to the cause. Most groups will self-police and there will be little need for a moderator to step in to make a correction.

Image credits:
Scale by FSergio / 123RF Stock Photo [modified] 
Stones  by scol22 / 123RF Stock Photo [modified]