I’ve been thinking a lot lately about virtual credibility. I guess because a lot of the people that follow me on Twitter have some interesting bios. Some that would have you thinking or believing, “wow this person is impressive.” They say they do this and they have x amount of followers etc. etc.
Simply put, at some point your bio, your connections and the number of followers you have are going to mean nothing unless you can back it up with true hands on experience and knowledge. I will venture to say though, that you can learn a lot about someone via 140 characters or less. Consider that the ice breaker or the get to know someone phase if you will. And you know what? It can become pretty obvious after awhile, when actually talking to someone whether they have the “chops” or not. That’s the difference between virtual credibility and “virtual street cred.”
“Virtual Street Cred”
I could refer you to the urban dictionary for the loosely defined version of “street cred” but attaching the word “virtual” to it simply means that it’s one thing to talk it in the virtual space that is the blogosphere or Twitter, but it’s a whole nuther’ thing to walk it.
So yesterday I tweeted that I was thinking about virtual credibility, when Rachel Happe, whose views and opinion I respect very much, asked the following question:
Is “virtual credibility” like virtual currency…it’s not really money but it looks like it on the internet? 🙂
Bingo! So, over the past few months, I’ve been having actual conversations with people I’ve gotten to know from Twitter. This is significant on a number of levels. Not the least of which is the virtual relationship has become something other than “tweeting” back and forth. Another significant aspect, is that before Twitter, I might have still been able to talk to people in the marketing, social media, PR and decision maker space but…It would have taken perhaps a cold call or semi-warm one at best to engage them. And many more to get to some type of comfort level.
Twitter has allowed us ways to create amazing relationships and opportunities at a rapid rate. Prior to Twitter we would have had to work twice as hard to get to know each other. As Brian Solis puts it in his most recent post:
As Twitter gains in relevance and prominence, its conversation platform will ring the alarms of any business that monetizes relationships, connections, and information exchange
From Twitter I’ve received opportunities to work on projects. I’ve also, on a daily basis been privy to a massive stable of talent that I can refer to for help, perspective, resources, advice, knowledge, expertise, partnerships and wisdom and most of all friendship. I have gotten to know people from so many diverse backgrounds that would have never happened otherwise. The majority of these people are a mere DM away. That is an amazing aspect that is not overlooked by me. Some of these people now have, in my eyes attained.
“Virtual Street Cred”
In the comments section of a post by Radian 6’s Amber Naslund, Marketer Beth Harte says the following.
I used to think Twitter was silly (hated it really), but now, it’s invaluable. All those tweets really build a character of the people you interact with. And then when you meet them in person, it’s like you already know them well and you can move past the ‘getting to know you’ phase into a deeper relationship. Imagine that from a business perspective…wow!
I feel that way too.
How about you? What has happened to you since you’ve embarked on Twitter? Good, bad, or indifferent?
My experience has definitely come full circle this past year. Building that virtual street cred has allowed me to build meaningful relationships, online, that I was able to further grow in an offline setting at conferences and events. That’s what it really is all about – relationships. Twitter’s opened up the doors of networking for me, but in the process has allowed me to make some great friendships that I can literally call on whenever I need a chat or advice. You included, Marc 😉
I agree. To me, it’s been nothing short of Amazing. It’s such an integral part of my work and personal and virtual lives. Thank you Sonny!
Awww, you’re too sweet, Marc!
Last weekend, while on a mini family vacation in Denver, I spent about two hours at a TweetUp at a local bar. A week earlier, I’d tweeted 2-3 people who followed me and whose blogs I’d mildly interacted on in the past, that I was coming and would they or others be interested in getting together. About 15 people showed up.
When I tried explaining the reason why I was going to attend this gathering in lieu of spending more time with my cousins, it took a while to portray that all it took was one 140-character message from me to turn into a gathering of people wanting to see me (or wanting to have drinks with each other, but with the caveat if I hadn’t asked they wouldn’t be there).
Know what I mean?
I find the whole question of “virtual street cred” fascinating…and timely. I also wonder how much actual tech knowledge one has to have to be effective in offering counsel on incorporating social media tactics into a campaign…is it enough to understand theory but be unable to write code, for instance? I think so, as long as you have a team of people who supplement the areas in which you are lacking. Twitter provides connections to people with expertise in things I only begin to comprehend and I learn through reading their tweets and bookmarks.
I feel like I’ve dipped into some intensive post-grad experience and am learning something new every day. My Twitter experience stretches me, exposes me to new ideas and connects me to people I might otherwise not have met. And most are only a DM away and happy to help. Wonderful.
In the end, who benefits (besides me and my expanding brain)? My clients. My family (ok, they do get tired of hearing about it, true) and my friends and colleagues.
Good post. Good blog.
Thanks for sharing.
See there, one 140 character tweet resulted in meeting 15 people who you get to know and inwhich each can help the other in some form or fashion. Thanks Ari..you bring a lot to the conversation every day.
Twitter for me has really accelerated the trust curve. What I mean by that: before Twitter, it would take a handful of emails and probably a phone call or an in-person exchange to have that feeling of “conversation” that helps establish familiarity and trust with someone.
Now, Twitter has accelerated how fast and how immediately that conversation can happen, so that trust can be built in a matter of hours or days instead of weeks or months.
On a personal level, because of its one-to-many nature, you can put out a query or statement on Twitter, reaching out, and suddenly you’ve got dozens of people responding to you for help or support or solidarity. Nothing establishes trust faster than having someone say to you – even on Twitter – “I hear you, and I’m on your side.”
Amazing tool and community, isn’t it? And HEY! I found YOU there, which was a triumph indeed. 🙂
Allen, first thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation and second, we really have only scratched the surface of what Twitter can do for all of us. Consider yourself lucky to be watching and to be a part of what is happening! It is fascinating.
For me Twitter is like just what it was 2 years ago in the US. I believe it is for all other people living in Europe too. Here in Italy, twittering is still not as popular as it is in the US and I wonder if it is gonna be as popular as Facebook has become.
I just cannot keep thinking that Twitter will never be that important for Europeans. After reading a related post on Mashable, my thoughts have been strengthened
Hi Marc –
Like many of you, I’ve gone through an interesting transformation by using Twitter. If you had told me five years ago that I would be sharing hundreds of 140 character posts about everything from my intellectual interests to my personal activities to my political views I definitely would have told you that was madness.
What I found is that the more I share, the more I find my ‘tribe’ (to steal a term from @pistachio) and the more I’ve found my own voice – the more I realize I have a unique point of view that is useful to others. That’s really satisfaction enough but it has also led to finding work and a career path that is slowly converging more and more with my values and interests. That is an amazing thing.
And I’ve met you! 🙂
I love the concept of virtual street cred! Twitter has proven to be an amazing tool for facilitating connections,and a terrific filter for sorting out those who are genuine, smart, funny, sassy — in a word, themselves — and those who are not. It’s in what we tweet, how we interact online, how we react to others, and when we interject ourselves into a conversation. It’s a great window for getting a sense of someone.
Of course, as you, Amber, Beth, and others have so aptly defined, these interactions help to build the trust that we can then nurture into friendships that may start online but quickly expand out into the “real” world.
Daria, as I’ve come to believe, as much as there might be some things that annoy us about Twitter. It is so virtually unknown still that we truly have only scratched the surface of what is capable of. But to me, it’s invaluable.
Rachel, what i can’t wait to do is, meet all of the wonderful people that I have met through Twitter. It’s like speed dating but even more effective, don’t ya think? Twitter helps us cut through a lot and to a certain degree, allows us to make friends fast and also quicker determinations on whether a relationship is possible or not.
Amber no blog, no matter how good, would have allowed for the accelerated nature of creating a relationship that twitter allows us. Amazing.
“Wisdom?” Man, do I feel old! 🙂 Seriously, thanks for the inclusion in such a distinguished list.