Thanksgiving 2011 marked a CFM milestone—we topped 10,000 followers on Twitter. I was thankful about that—I like to think it means we are sharing information people find useful and informative. And maybe a little fun.
I know some folks thing of Twitter as a morass of inane trivia. But there are a lot savvy, interesting Tweeters, like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who have developed a clear strategy for sharing thoughtful and informative content. Following a carefully edited list of savvy Tweeters can be a great addition to your scanning.
Here are just a few of the Twitter feeds I find very informative:
@jessemoyer, from KnowledgeWorks Foundation, shares links to articles and reports on the future of education, mobile and online learning learning and STEM education.
@garrygolden, professional futurist and frequent CFM collaborator, shares information on trends in transportation, energy, learning systems and demographics. And occasionally reports on cute baby Noah (who is a fan of MOMA. Starting out right, that kid is.)
@janetcarding monitors a lot of museum research and blog sites, sharing news, reports and projects, as well as glimpses of what’s going on at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, where she is the director.
@sebchan brings deep knowledge and a wry and skeptical voice to his observations on media and technology, (Seb’s tweets also document his current move to the Cooper Hewitt in NYC from his former perch at the Powerhouse museum in Sydney. Woot! Maybe Americans will get to see him in person more often, now.)
@mitchbetts was a classmate of mine at the University of Houston’s Certificate in Strategic Foresight course. A technology journalist, Mitch shares his broad reading in trends, innovation and market research, a useful balance to my often museum-centric scanning.
@P2173 (aka Lucy Bernholz) is a self-styled “philanthropy wonk.” If you don’t have time to monitor the tremendously important literature of asking and giving, not to worry, Lucy does a good job on behalf of all of us.
@mgorbis, at The Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Calif., is my go-to Twitter source on futurist literature and reports, and she also reads (and shares) broadly and imaginatively in a variety of fields. Watching who Marina retweets has helped me expand my Twitter circle into new fields.
Just for fun, I recommend the 140 character musings of my favorite museum spokes-specimen, @SuetheTRex, at the Field Museum of Chicago, as well as the (unsanctioned) tweets of @NatHistoryWhale at the American Museum of Natural History. Also @Hirst_Shark, who, tweeting in the persona of the pickled shark that anchors Damien’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” engages in charming and toothy banter with his fans.
I encourage you to use Twitter to share your reading with others—together we can form a powerful scanning network. Here’s my advice for strategic tweeting:
Clarify who your Twitter account represents. Is it personal or on behalf of an organization you work for? In either case, make sure your activities are in line with your employer’s social media policy, if they have one.
Define the focus of your Twitter stream. For example, CFM concentrates on content tied to forecasting/future studies in general, especially issues that CFM/AAM is addressing through forecasting (i.e. workforce diversity, food issues, universal design/accessibility, financial models, ethics).
Tweet links to interesting content (videos, articles, blog posts).
Write catchy text to accompany the link in order to provoke interest. Tweets with humorous lead-ins are retweeted more often than bare links.
Include relevant users or hashtags to attract the attention of people and organizations mentioned in the tweet—they may retweet, and/or start following you.
Retweet or “favorite” interesting tweets from influential people and organizations. Twitter is a platform for networking and building your circle of connections.
Now it’s your turn to help build our shared futurist Twitterverse. Use the comments section below to share your favorite Tweeters, and explain why you follow them. Or (of course) Tweet about your favorites and tag the tweet with @futureofmuseums—follow the CFM Twitter stream over the next few days to see who turns up!