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Twitter will make us the Borg. Resistance is futile. And that's OK.

Is Twitter making us the Borg?OK. So, maybe the Borg aren’t the best analogy. But when two people I respect separately reference the same article that talks about “the hive mind,” I’m understandably intrigued. The article in question, Clive Thompson’s “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” in the New York Times Magazine, looks at the growth of “life-streaming” applications, such as Facebook and Twitter. Stowe Boyd comments, noting,

“I have maintained for years that social tools are specifically different from other tools we use to interact in that they shape culture. They are not principally about communication, or number crunching: they are in the business of changing what we think is right and wrong, what we think is important, and how we perceiev (sic) the world.”

Stowe mentions his conversation with Thompson about how you can put these tools to work, but, sadly, that conversation made neither Thompson’s article nor Stowe’s post.

Fred Wilson gets a little closer to the life-streaming meets work-streaming world, but looks at the issue as one of content delivery and interface. Which is valuable, if your business is one of content delivery or interface design – and, to be fair, most businesses online these days do need to care about those issues.

But, the most critical item is how you can use these tools to connect with your customer. And this is where Thompson provides the clearest guideposts. He writes,

“Facebook and Twitter may have pushed things into overdrive, but the idea of using communication tools as a form of “co-presence” has been around for a while. The Japanese sociologist Mizuko Ito first noticed it with mobile phones: lovers who were working in different cities would send text messages back and forth all night — tiny updates like “enjoying a glass of wine now” or “watching TV while lying on the couch.” They were doing it partly because talking for hours on mobile phones isn’t very comfortable (or affordable). But they also discovered that the little Ping-Ponging messages felt even more intimate than a phone call.”

The key thing is, customers crave these types of connections. While we rugged individualists loathe to admit it, inside we’re all aching for contact. We want to be with people just like us. Social – in any form – is about people. Last time I checked, your customers were people. Seems like an obvious fit to me.

So, how do you use these tools to grow your business? Here are 11 examples (Top 10 lists are trite; mine go… to eleven!) of past coverage:

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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