How a #NewWaytoWork Led to Imagining a Drone that Delivers Coffee

In November a group of Futurists convened in NYC to for PureMatter’s #NewWaytoWork Thinkathon in conjunction with the launch of IBM Verse. As a social strategist I’ve participated in a good number of hashtag campaigns and this one indeed seemed like a pretty cool concept. I was excited to see where it was going to go and with such a great make-up of influencers I knew that it could be very special. Little did I know just how special and how it would impact me personally.

I’d always considered myself fairly unemployable basically because I can’t stand for the status quo. Whenever I jump into a position I immediately think about what can be done to make a process better. As you can imagine this doesn’t go down very well when you’re supposed to be an entry-level drone. But try as I might I couldn’t turn it off. This compulsion is one of the reasons I started my PhD and ironically the main reason I left after 2 years. And it’s why I became a social strategist- a position that allows me to innovate to my heart’s content. My job is to build a better mousetrap and I love it.

But there’s a flip side to this. I’ve gotten used to living inside of my head. I’m used to everyone’s eyes glazing over 30 seconds into a conversation. I always tell people I’m happiest sitting in a corner with piles of data to analyze and that’s totally true. But it means I’m starved for interaction. There’s a joy that comes from the exchange of ideas. I thought that I would find it in the Academy and when I didn’t I assumed that it was simple not to be. That, not to sound overly dramatic, I would simply be alone in my head.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. What Academia couldn’t provide, IBM could. Stop for a second and think about that. IBM. A behemoth of a corporation founded in 1911. The epitome of the dreaded corporate private sector. And the catalyst for my entry into a community in which I feel totally accepted and valued. When I geek out others join in. No idea is too crazy.

Yesterday I came to the realization that the #NewWaytoWork hashtag has created a community focused on innovative thinking. Here’s what happened. Last month I participated in a #MillennialTalk tweetchat sponsored by IBM Social Business during which I suggested that part of the future of work would be a drone that delivered me coffee in bed. The idea generated some laughs and conversation. Then yesterday I participated in another IBM Social Business sponsored tweetchat- this time Brian Fanzo’s #SBizHour. We were talking about innovations we wanted for our work calendars and someone mentioned an alarm clock that integrated with a calendar. This led to my tweet:

As soon as I wrote this I was struck with the realization that the unifying factor was the innovation sparked by the #NewWaytoWork campaign. Both chats were fairly different and yet since they were sponsored they had the same Futurist message. My idea is of course fairly silly- not really focused on substantive contribution but the point is that these conversations are taking place around this hashtag and they are focused on creativity. Think of how many conversations you’ve been in where a new idea immediately gets struck down. There’s time to be practical but if we are to move forward we need a place where strategists and futurists feel free to exchange ideas.

Oh and by the way, a drone that delivers coffee actually exists:

Next step- integration with my alarm clock.

Why You, Yes You, Should Join a Tweetchat

I know your secret. You want to be “that person”. The one that everyone follows on twitter for industry advice and information. But let’s be honest, unless you have the offline cred (journalist, on the speaking circuit, celebrity, etc.) then you can probably forget it. Of course you could do a video that goes viral, run a humorous account that goes big, or have an unusually grumpy cat but that’s pretty unlikely.

For most of us, getting to that gold standard of “influencer” takes a lot of time and effort. You have to build the right audience and create the right content. The former requires lots of strategic following and unfollowing. Tools such as JustUnfollow and Tweepi are very useful. The latter requires a content strategy such as creating a blog, using Instagram, Pinterest,Vine, and other multimedia sharing options.

Yet that only takes care of the broadcasting element. Your strategy won’t be worth beans if you don’t interact. As any social strategist knows, you can get a lot of traction by retweeting content and then thanking people when they follow or retweet you. You can also reply to people on your twitter feed and sometimes strike up a cool conversation. That will get you known in some smaller circles and you can definitely work it to drive traffic to your blog and get your content shared more widely. That can lead to larger circles and more connections. You can of course also live tweet from events which similarly can put you on the radar and get you connections. These are all great tried and true social strategies and they will absolutely garner you attention and increased influence.

 But if you want to take your strategy to the next level you really need to get in on the world of the Tweetchat. Here’s why:

  1.  They provide you with an opportunity to show your knowledge in a given space. It’s all the more beneficial if you choose a tweet chat that is in line with the content you create because it adds to your reputation as an influencer and thought leader.
  2. It creates content! Of course make sure you send out the obligatory tweet to your followers that you’ll be spamming their feeds because you’re on such and such a chat, BUT there’s a strong chance that some of your followers may end up also joining the chat because they have a common interest. And that reaffirms the sentiment that you’re the person to follow.
  3. Tweetchats give you access to influencers with whom you otherwise might not be able to converse. If you say things that are insightful they may retweet it to their followers- and that’s a powerful validation.
  4. Finally, they provide you with an additional point of contact to members of your community. Saying “Thanks for the RT” or “really enjoyed your insights” after the chat may well spark a further conversation and access.

 Of course at the end of the day like everything in social media, it’s all up to you. You have to prove that you know what you’re talking about and you have to interact and you have to make the contacts. But being strategic about those interactions is the name of the game and tweetchats are a fantastic way to go.

Check out Tweetchat for a list of tweet chats going on as well as some great resources for getting started!