Babies, Parties and Grandma: What I Learned from @TommyTRC

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

Newborn babies, parties and grandma? What do any of these topics have to do with social media and the evolving world of communication? Well, actually, a lot.

Last month the UW Oshkosh Social Media Club had Thomas Clifford (or @tommytrc to his Twitter friends) come in and speak about the world of social media. Throughout his presentation he discussed the power of branding, how to go viral, online etiquette and more. Here are a few points that I walked away with after his incredible and motivating speech.

You Can’t Make Things Go Viral

These days every company wants to make a video that goes “viral,” or to have it become an Internet sensation that everyone e-mails to their friends. Clifford finally killed the idea of “making” things go viral and said that we have no control over them.

“You can’t make things go viral, but people can,” Clifford said.

He gave the example of how his newborn baby boy become an online phenomenon just by luck. Clifford tweeted updates throughout the birth of his son, which eventually went global, gaining him followers from across the world and even inspiring a family from California to send him a basket of muffins as a congratulations gift. He never expected his son’s birth to go viral, it just happened due to his many followers.

Twitter is a Party

Clifford gave the perfect metaphor that Twitter is like a huge party. Everyone is talking to everyone, so don’t mind nudging your way into a conversation and joining in. This means that if you see two tweeters discussing a topic of your interest, don’t be afraid to join in the discussion or share a relevant link with them. That’s how people make connections and network through sites like Twitter.

But just like a party, don’t focus all of your attention on one person. Feel free to mingle and meet new people. If you limit yourself to who you talk to, you are not broadening the your reach to its fullest potential.

What Would Your Grandmother Say?

Even today, students are still tweeting vulgar statements and posting the obligatory I’m-at-a-party-holding-a-red-cup pictures. If students are not sure what to post and what not to post, he gave us a short but powerful answer: Don’t post something your grandmother would not approve of.

This simple solution can easily become the little conscious in your head that makes you rethink everything you post online. So before you update your status about drinking or use Foursquare to check into a bar on a Monday afternoon, think about what your grandmother would say. Odds are she wouldn’t be happy.

So the moral of the story is to tweet about your grandma at a party… or something. Right? Close. If you want to see Clifford’s entire presentation, click here or view his Slideshare presentation below.



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