I’ve been on Twitter since mid 2007, gradually engaging with more people, following conference streams and earlier this year, joining chats like #imcchat, #kaizenblog and #nmchat. It’s in the chats where I’ve started forming some pretty cool friendships – I’d call them friendships even though we’ve not met in real life. And experiencing much of what Shel Israel writes in Twitterville about the new global neighborhoods. Then #UsGuys happens and added an incredibly rich dimension I never expected.
It all started with a really bad logo redesign. I know there are many bad logos out there and most don’t warrant an uproar, but this was the Gap. A company that should know better. I think @tommoradpour and I connected on a Twitter Chat. Then he introduced me to @Galactic during our conversation around #gapgate as we shared links and dismay that such a respected brand could do this to themselves. Then @mikulaja and @RealChaseAdams joined in and most of our allotted 140 characters were consumed by including everyone. So #UsGuys was formed to solve the problem.
@NickKellet joined in and pretty soon we have people asking what’s with #UsGuys? You mean you have your own hashtag? I think it was @MargieClayman who asked that. Almost like a butterfly that flaps it’s wings and half a world away triggers an avalanche, #UsGuys became this inclusive 24/7 community talking social media, marketing, branding, and yes, really bad logos.
@RealChaseAdams really picked up the torch serving as chief host while the rest of us jumped in and out as time permitted. Read his great post on what #UsGuys is here. I believe well over 100 520 people have stopped by. Some kick the tires while others stay for a long cup a joe, then come back for happy hour. @solete in Spain somehow never needs to sleep as she’s always adding value and humor to the conversation. And one evening I had a great conversation about business with @qstreet in Philadelphia – something that never would have happened outside of a tribe like this. Then @danenow in Palm Springs posted a photo of his workspace and asked others to do the same. And so it goes.
#UsGuys may not be global, but we span the U.S., Canada, Spain and the UK (maybe others I’m not aware of). I hadn’t written about this before because Chase Adams did such a great job with the intro I hadn’t saw the need. But now over a month in, I feel compelled to talk about how cool, warm, welcoming, refreshing (insert gushing adjective here) the #UsGuys community has become. I’ve had great exchanges with many and know that we could easily pick it up in real life.
The coolest thing about #UsGuys is that we came together over common interests and are forming connections that would have been virtually impossible without a platform like Twitter. We’re experiencing the Flat World that Tom Friedman wrote about a few years ago. While easy to take for granted, it’s almost magical. To those not overly active on Twitter, when I explain this cool community that just spontaneously happened over a bad logo – thank you Gap, there’s a blank look. You really just have to experience it.
Bottom line: #UsGuys has shown me there are some super cool people with substance out there doing great work who exude warmth and inclusiveness. They’re fun, unpretentious, interesting. People who don’t try too hard to be something they’re not. Nick summed it up best:
“Membership of the tribe has given me a true sense of belonging. #usguys has become my extended team, my source of inspiration, my sounding board. It’s a safe, friendly playground.”
Tom has kicked off a great blog out of the group and I can only think that we’re just beginning to see the potential of the #UsGuys community. Sure some people will come and go. There will be ebbs and flows. Some will not find value at times the convo gets too trivial. The key is to spend some time in the stream. Stop by at different times of day: join in when it suits you – 24/7.
Key takeaways for business?
- Community happens, sometimes spontaneously. Nurture it. Don’t force it. Or fake it.
- Go where the action is. If it’s on Twitter, great. Or Facebook. Or your local park bench. Don’t try to force people onto a platform.
- You get out of it what you put into it. You have to invest the time. Stop by regularly and connect. Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor are relationships. Trust takes time.
- Be respectful, responsive and inclusive and you’ll reap far greater rewards.
- Be willing to let go. When you start a community, you don’t always know where it’ll lead. Enjoy the journey.
- Make it simple. Don’t over think it. It’ll develop a richer personality without every move being scripted.
- And when it starts gaining momentum, let it ride for a bit to allow it time to achieve flow and rhythm.
No telling where #UsGuys is going, but it’s one tribe I’m thrilled to be a part of.