How to use Twitter, if you're a CIO? With discipline

How do you tweet?

I’m supposed to use Twitter for work, but I don’t. Now I believe I know why. According to two CIOs who do, David Buckholtz and Ralph Loura, tweeting requires first, “a moment” that drives home the benefits, and second, the will to form a new habit. The two were featured in a recent webinar, “CIOs Reveal Why They Tweet.

For Buckholtz, divisional CIO for Sony Pictures Entertainment, the moment came four years ago when a Sony colleague got a “cool job offer” through LinkedIn. He internalized the value of social networking. That Thanksgiving, a holiday he commemorates each year with a significant organizing task, he took his thousands of business cards and put them on LinkedIn. “That investment has paid off many times,” he said. (Another year he digitized all his records.)

Buckholtz decided to use Twitter after hearing Silicon Valley venture capitalist and business guru Guy Kawasaki extol its virtues. “The speed of news” on Twitter appeals to Buckholtz. (When he recently saw a small plane crash on the horizon near his Santa Monica home, but could not find any information on traditional news outlets, he usedTwitter to quickly tuned into real-time accounts.)

But Buckholtz, who describes himself as more of a consumer than a “publisher of tweets,” has fully deployed the social networking tool professionally too, posting problems that come up. Twitter, for example, helped him round up an Adobe engineer to troubleshoot the launch of a new app for the Sony screening room. Twitter “streamlines” his learning, he said. “Rather than having to go out and look at different websites, I now have this whole community of hundreds of people filtering that information for me.” He devotes 30 minutes every day to checking his TweetDeck.

Ralph Loura, CIO at The Clorox Co., also appreciates Twitter’s ability to filter information. He and a friend call it the “lazy Web”: “You don’t go to Google to do the search and try to figure it out. You just post it out there and wait for all your friends and followers to do the work for you and send you the answer.” While his use of Twitter has a Tom Sawyer quality to it, his decision to use Twitter was as disciplined as Buckholtz’s determination to leverage LinkedIn.

Loura challenged himself to use Twitter after seeing a non-technology pal use the tool to follow his favorite hockey players. To test whether Twitter was worth his time, he set himself the task of tweeting daily for one month: “I gave myself an objective to go on Twitter daily, to try to tweet daily, at least for a month, [to] try to build a habit and try to discover value.”

Loura quickly found “interesting folks to follow” on topics of interest — content management or a new technology tool. (He also followed Guy Kawasaki, then “unfollowed” him when he found his content “less useful.”) The “habit-forming thing,” making the “effort to power through,” was critical, he said: “If I hadn’t set myself that challenge, I probably would have dropped off Twitter early.”

How do you tweet?

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