Twitter for project managers (4 of 4)

The first 3 parts were about Twitter, it’s conventions and how to find and share information. This final post in the series, Part 4, suggests how to use Twitter for a project

Please add your ideas and comments if you are a #pmot (project manager on Twitter). What works for you?

Before you start tweeting about your project, double check your organisation’s computer use and media policies. Some organisations have very good reasons why the information that goes outside is controlled. Posting on Twitter is as effective at reaching the press as telephoning your local reporter. The press use Twitter heavily. If your organisation has a reason to centralise communication, don’t use Twitter for business specific news, keep your tweets to personal opinion and skills and be careful that what you post cannot be directly linked to an event in your project.

My client organisations know that I will write about some things happening in their projects in my blogs. I won’t write a blog or tweet about an poor performance in any way that could be traced back to them. I can share the experience. However, if I am working with one organisation for a longer period, the likelihood is that the association between event and client can be made – like an employee, sometimes can’t post something that would be useful or insightful because the organisation’s best interest must come first.

It might make sense to have a team Twitter account that only the team can follow but be aware of what you post: like having a team meeting in a coffee shop, you can’t always be 100% open because you don’t know who else is listening.

If your project has an open account, remember that you are telling the world: you may need to think a little about the long term stakeholder impact of pressing send. While you want your account to help you communicate, you need that communication to be a positive for you and your project especially if it is bad news. The impression the project gives is what you post.

One great example of a tweet about a bad day on a project came from Kent Beck about an Agile project he is working on: “After 5 errors in one file I’m reverting it & starting over tomorrow. I was clearly not smart enough to do it today.” That says so much about that project: It might be a tough challenge but quality of the work is important and they strive for it. The next day, Kent posted an update about his success with the problem, recognising that some of his followers would be deeply interested in his success.

That example is also good for the biggest lesson of Twitter: be you, as you are on a good (or at least OK) day. Every tweet should reflect your personality but must also consider your audience.

Whining, moaning and bad mouthing might feel like a release at the time but on Twitter, a word typed in anger is there for the world to see. Many celebrities posted about their disappointment at not being able to attend the royal wedding, the ones with messages like “good luck to the happy couple, sorry I can’t celebrate with you on the day” were not scorned but those who tweeted “how can they invite the Beckhams but not me?” were pounced upon by the press as self serving and got a much rougher ride. A similar reaction might happen if a project manager complained that another project got resources before his.

Deleting tweets does not remove them from history: while you can’t see them on Twitter.com, other tools and apps that can be used to tweet will still display them. Think before you press send. One project manager posted that users and other stakeholders were giving him a bad time about the project. The tweets in reply were summarised by one: “you got it wrong. we relied on you. why are you so special we should treat you different? Grow up and fix it. FAST!” ideally, that conversation should have been held privately if it had to be had at all. Having it on Twitter compounded the problem.

Announce progress, get more participation in an event or call for feedback using hash tags. This will allow those associated with it to add more comments and you to track them. Use Twitter as a communication channel with those stakeholders who are there with you. You may find that you want to include Twitter as an interactive channel in your communication plan.

Try searching for answers to things you want to know about. More than once I have been lucky enough to stumble across a tweet by a leading expert on a topic that gave me an answer I needed.

Enjoy tweeting – you never know who you might exchange ideas with or be inspired by at this noisy party.

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About 3triangles
Helping organisations make change happen in 3 key areas: strategic change, deliver tactical impacts, efficient and effective processes. All blog content (c) 2009 - 2012 Carol Long and Three Triangles Performance Ltd

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