Showing posts with label twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label twitter. Show all posts

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twitter and Productivity?

Is Twitter Productivity an oxymoron? There are several posts in the blog world about Twitter and it's drain on productivity. I am seeing a different take on it myself - but of course, like any tool, it's all based on how you use it. Sure, Twitter can be a productivity drain - if you sit there and constantly monitor your friends and @reply all the time and turn Twitter into "Chatter" instead.

However, I've seen a different slant with it myself. Although my following is quite minimal, I've found I can use Twitter to put a little unseen pressure on myself that whatever I tweet I should actually be doing. One can use that to your advantage if done correctly. Instead of tweeting "I am eating breakfast at Tiffanys", I can tweet "Working the @Computer list" and I have set some pressure on myself that I need to either do or keep doing that post. In fact if I will tweet what I SHOULD be doing at the moment, I have a tendency to go ahead and actually follow up on that.

I have used that in reference to my weekly reviews before - I tweet "Working on Weekly Review" and feel at that point I better be doing that. Of course it's not like some follower is going to come to my house and make sure I'm actually doing that but if you play it right it's a helpful TwitterCoach for me.

Silly solution? Likely, but if you have any principles in regard to "what you say vs what you do" it can be a simple but effective tool to help Get Things Done in your world. Of course you are making a huge assumption that your followers are actually reading what you tweet - but some things are left better unknown than known.

Keep on Tweeting...
Image by ChrisMetcalf

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

15 Seconds of Fame

Just thought I would share my 15 seconds of fame for this year... well, maybe it's up to 30 seconds now.

After blogging here about some ways I have used Twitter at a local government LINK and LINK, a newspaper story followed LINK which then was followed by a couple TV news stories in the Oklahoma City area. As any government employee knows, many times "good" press is hard to find so it's always worth sharing it when it happens.

Both OKC Fox25 LINK and News9 LINK have now covered the activity which has helped spread the awareness of the Twitter features. Interestingly enough, both stories were different enough that they did not seem overly duplicated... or maybe am just biased. :-) Additionally we were mentioned in a story about Law Enforcement agencies using Twitter LINK.

With Twitter gaining public attention the timing was right and having had the application in place since late November 2008 it worked out well.

Like the rest of the world anymore though, you blink and it's on to the next thing - I had my 15 seconds so now we're off to another adventure.

Full links of the coverage:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tweeting Local Government: Revisited - Results and Tools

Having discussed using Twitter in a local government operation before and now having things running for a few weeks I thought I would follow up on the subject. I setup the Twitter accounts for the local municipal government, the City of Shawnee, Oklahoma, automated some of the postings using various pieces of our website, found some online tools that make it easier to review/manage the accounts, and have just watched the activity. Nothing awesome or wonderful to report but steady results have followed. I thought I would follow up on how I accomplished what we've done so far and the tools used. There should be a local newspaper story in mid-February which I hope will increase the local awareness of what we are doing and help participation.

Online tools used...
For those notices that need to be sent out at a later date such as notices for Commission Meeting broadcast, planning sessions, or general reoccurring news and information, we use TweetLater lets you manage multiple Twitter accounts and schedule future tweets across one or more accounts. TweetLater will also scan for any @Replies to your accounts and send hourly notices which allows you to be notified of replies but not have to constantly monitor the feeds. If you want to follow all those that follow you, you can enable the auto-follow feature that can also send a welcome to the follower. At this time we are not following those that follow us from the 'big brother' feeling it may present to some. As our follower base grows, we will poll in the future to see what their opinion of being followed by the ShawneePD, ShawneeFD, of Cityof ShawneeOK are and make changes if applicable. I have not figured out if TweetLater has an API to allow feeding/posting scheduled tweets automatically from outside of their website but we can work around that for now.
I use to get a full overview of the followers and any friends we are following on one page. The Friend / Follower layout works fine for me and the interface is easy enough to use. Plus the WallTrak is just kind of fun to play with.
For real time monitoring of the City of Shawnee accounts, works well. It allows the monitoring of multiple Twitter accounts and the ability to Tweet across one or more in real time if desired. Splitweet auto-refreshes every minute or so and tracks 'brand mentions' and @Replies making it much easier to manage multiple Twitter accounts. Splitweet has a fun interface that is laid out well and easy to use. If you manage multiple Twitter accounts it can be quite useful for real-time activity.

Now on to the custom tools used...

CADCom - Computer Aided Dispatch Communicator

"How are are you posting those Police and Fire calls?"

That is a common question about the service. This is accomplished by a custom portion of the Shawnee Twitter engine developed in-house. It actually is a simple internal Active Server Page (ASP) that reloads every minute, checks the CAD database for new calls, checks to see if the Twitter accounts are to Tweet those calls and then sends the Tweets if needed.

The CADCom application was originally developed to allow Police, Fire, City employees and citizens to sign up for localized call notices through email. The user selects which call types to be notified, what time of day to be alerted, and an optional location center and radius to be alerted if the call was in that area. The application has not been pushed out for public use yet even though it was written years ago but should see the light of day in 2009.

By setting up the ShawneePD, ShawneeFD, and CityofShawneeOK twitter accounts up as CADCom 'users', and adding the bit of code that says Tweet these calls instead of emailing them the solution was born.

Integration with News, Agenda, Jobs postings
With the open API that Twitter provides, it makes it quite easy to integrate with web site code and we have used that to our advantage to automate postings. News releases that are posted by City employees to the front of the website can automatically Tweeted for the main City account with the headline and a link back to the front page. When Minutes or Agenda documents are posted to the website the information is Tweeted as well allowing citizens to easily follow what is available without having to manually check the RSS feed or the site.

We already email out job posting notifications but will add Tweets of the openings in the near future since the process is quite simple once the PostTwitter() function was built. With this function in place we can actually Tweet out anything of importance from the websites and will be reviewing and developing more solutions as they are uncovered.

Another feature that will be added in the near future is a basic 'Tweeting Page' for employees to post Tweets to the various accounts directly from their desktops. This avoids having to share the account passwords and allows Police, Fire and other employees to post short bursts of information from their desktops.


There are the basics of what I have done in regard to Tweeting Local Government for the City of Shawnee, Oklahoma. Even without the custom code that auto-Tweets activity, local governments can use the free online Tweeting tools to keep their citizens better informed with little effort and no other costs.

Citizens should challenge local governments to look around at the options they have to help keep their citizens better informed and use those technologies whenever they can.

-Stephen W Nolen

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Twittering Away Local Government

How should a local government use Twitter, the micro blogging service that has gained so much popularity? Should it be 1.0 broadcast only? Should it be totally 2.0 interactive or should it be somewhere in the middle? Or should Twitter even be in the mix for local governments?

Some time ago I setup a simple Twitter account for the local government I work for to use as a test for keeping people up to date without them having to check our RSS feed, sign up for a notification system, or visit our site. Right now it is a test, no publicity, no front page story, just testing the waters. The @CityofShawneeOK account picked up a few followers just based on our location but we haven't done much with the account yet. The long(er) term plan is to use the account for notifications when formal meeting Agendas and Minutes are posted, when local news is updated on the main website or when general information needs to be sent out to concerned citizens.

More recently I added some code to an internal notification program I wrote that is used to update key people inside our local government via email, when certain types of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) or 9-1-1 calls come in, to allow posting to a Twitter account. The accounts @ShawneePD and @ShawneeFD push out certain Police and Fire related calls and updates. This is basically the same process used at the Charlette NC South police department. My solutions builds on the CADCOM (Computer Aided Dispatch COMmunicator) program I build a few years ago but never fully implemented.

Then I read THIS ARTICLE and now I question the initial concept, or at least the total concept. Obviously push only is not what Twitter is necessarily about, although it is often used that way. I like to see the activity come up in my Twitter window better than email and I can easily determine if mobile notifications are desired through my Twitter profile setup for those accounts.

However, my current concept seems to break all the rules of Top 5 Ways to Screw up your Corp Twitter account so is the solution useful at all?

Comments anyone - Should we Twitter away Local Government or not?

What else in a local government could Twitter be used for?