The Adventures of Molly Discovering Social Software – On the Importance of Status Updates

Tenerife - The Rose's SurroundingsIt’s been a while already since the last time that I shared over here a blog post on the wonderful Adventures of Molly Discovering Social Software, so I thought it would be a good opportunity today to come and touch base on the latest episode available and which I didn’t include in that previous article. Yes, indeed, it looks like Molly’s adventures discovering social software at IBM continue and this time around, for episode #3, on one of my favourite topics, although things around it haven’t been very smooth lately. And you will see what I mean shortly …

Yes, like I was saying, it looks like Molly is back at it again exploring the great opportunities offered by social software tools and in this particular episode around the subject of Status Updates. Now, I am sure that at this point in time there is very very little that I would need to add about the subject of micro-blogging (Or micro-sharing, whatever term you would prefer), since I am sure plenty of people out there have already been exposed to it through, perhaps, its most popular example out there: Twitter.

However, what you may not be familiar with is how micro-sharing works for one of my favourite social software tools: Lotus Connections, in a large corporate environment such as IBM’s. And this is exactly what episode #3 from Molly’s Adventures… is all about. My fellow BlueIQ team colleague, Anna Dreyzin, has done it again and has put together a rather funny, witty and insightful video clip describing not only what Status Updates are all about, but also detailing the kind of impact that something so relatively simple can have in every single business (No matter how small or how large that business may well be).

As far as I can see, and if I watch closer my own behaviour from all of the micro-sharing I have been doing over the last three years nearly, I would probably venture to say that, along with my blogs, Status Updates are probably my favourite social software activities. Over 18,000 updates on Twitter & over 5,500 updates combined between Connections Profiles & BlueTwit would probably corroborate that theory. I would even go further and confirm that it is probably one of the main social tools that has allowed me to reduce by 95% my incoming take of emails over the last 2 years, therefore truly living "A World Without Email".

However, this may all be coming to an end pretty soon, unfortunately; at least, as far as one of the tools I mentioned above is concerned. To the point where I’m on the brink of giving up on it altogether for good (After my several failed attempts to do so in the past). I know. It’s not pretty, but the frustration with it is at such an incredibly high level at the moment, that I just entered the point of no return.

Yes, of course, I’m talking about my good old friend Twitter with which I have been having a love / hate relationship for nearly three years now. Sometimes I can’t even answer why I have stuck with it for so long, when for most other social tools where the experience has been that frustrating I have cut off that relationship almost right away. Go figure! It’s probably the community. I am sure.

I am certain as well that at this point in time you may be wondering what’s that last straw that broke the camel’s back, right? Well, something so relatively simple, yet so important and critical that in most cases we all seem to take it for granted all along, not just with Internet tools, but also with those behind the firewall, because most of us probably don’t think it is that crucial… when it actually is …

I am talking about support, more specifically, customer support. Specially when things don’t work out all right and you expect to have some decent customer service that never arrives. Here is an example:

Early last week, while I was enjoying a long holiday break I started to notice how a couple of the desktop and mobile Twitter clients I use on a regular basis (Mixero, Tweetie for Mac, Tweetie and Tweetie 2 for my smartphone) failed to provide me with plenty of the tweets that would typically come through my timeline. I initially thought it may have been an issue with the silly Twitter API limit set on 150 calls. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t.

I was also experiencing the same issues on my timeline through the Web interface. Missing large chunks of tweets that when going through the remaining ones they would not make any sense. Almost impossible to follow up with the conversations. And if Twitter is about something, you would have to agree with me that it would be conversations. So imagine how frustrating it all started to become …

And here is where the real issues began. I decided to raise a ticket to Twitter Support, since I couldn’t find any related items on the usual places, hoping that someone may be able to help out eventually, since I seemed to be the only one experiencing the issues (At least, none of the folks I follow complained about a misbehaving Twitter). And I was hopeful. For a little while. But for just that little while. Because, as I am putting this blog post together, I am no longer hopeful. I just basically gave up!

It’s been six days (Yes, 6!!), since I contacted support to inquire about what may be the issues with my Twitter timeline and why am I only seeing half of the tweets coming through. And to date, not a single solution has been offered. In fact, after an initial timid response I haven’t received anything else in those 6 days. And that hurts! Very much!

If I didn’t rely on Twitter as much as I do today I probably wouldn’t be worried much about the whole thing, but the truth is that I have learned to depend on it. My entire team is there, including my boss and my boss’ boss, plenty of my fellow IBM colleagues are there, too, as well as a good bunch of the people who not only do I respect tremendously, but also value, very much, their friendship and connections. So you can see the dependency I have on it at the moment. And the fact that I cannot longer hold conversations with them is becoming an issue for me. And a big one.

I mean, can you imagine 6 days without email? Or can you imagine 6 days without access to any of the other essential tools you may be using to keep in touch with colleagues, customers, business partners and other fellow knowledge workers? Right, neither can I! And that’s why after 6 days without a decent customer support experience, I am almost ready to give up on it, leave Twitter for good, and don’t come back. Instead, I am thinking I will be benefiting much more, without that frustration, by continuing to nurture my connections behind the firewall with an application that I can trust would work as expected and that, if not, I know from where the customer support would be coming in.

That’s why over the last few days I have gone quiet in Twitter; in fact, I haven’t been there much lately and don’t plan to come back till Twitter Support decides to look into whatever it is the issues I am having and provides a solution to them. Why? Mainly, because life is just too short to have to worry about not having something so fundamental and paramount as customer support, specially nowadays when customers are behaving different. Yet, Twitter doesn’t seem to understand that.

Oh, well … we shall see … I just don’t want to finish up this blog post with such troublesome reflection, so here is the embedded version of the video clip that my colleague Anna put together and which clearly shows the way I will be heading from here onwards, if Twitter doesn’t pull its act together real soon. Status Updates within the firewall for the win! (At least, for now…)

Dear @Twitter, are you listening? Please do not let me abandon you, just like that, after all these years, ok? Don’t let something so silly and yet so powerful as customer support get in between our relationship. It would be too sad … Don’t let it happen. I don’t want to look for alternatives. I just want Twitter to work as it used to. That’s all. Don’t think I’m asking for too much, am I?

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