Homage to the Following

Precise Brand Insight - Homage to the followingI’ve been fortunate enough to spend the past year-and-a-half sitting next to an incredibly talented researcher.

During those 18 months, we frequently shared articles and exchanged ideas; often discussing them at length.

I believe it had a big impact on the quality of work we both produced.

Not only did it help me think more creatively and critically, it also boosted my morale and I looked forward to coming to work each day.

Unfortunately, she left last week.

Twitter’s real value

When we talk about the value of using Twitter at work, we frequently focus on the direct results we’ve achieved, such as whether it’s led to any new business, or helped us share our blog with a wider audience.

Or we talk about the value of our followers: how many we have and who they are, the two most popular obsessions.

Other than the obligatory ‘Follow Friday’, we rarely talk about who we’re following.

For me, this is the real value in checking Twitter every day.

I follow a number of very smart people, who frequently share thought-provoking articles and opinions; often their own.

To really benefit from using Twitter, however, you need to challenge your own beliefs and convictions.

Too many of us choose to only follow those who think like we do.

Confirmation bias can easily be exaggerated by using the internet. On Twitter in particular, it’s all too easy to find and follow people who share our views.

It’s why many of the political commentators I follow have quite different opinions to my own. I think you should always aim to understand both sides of an argument, no matter how clear cut the issue appears to be.

From a work perspective, I generally get more benefit from following those who don’t work in market research.

It helps me to think laterally and can spark new ideas and approaches, often by reading articles that appear to be completely unrelated to what I’m working on.

Brilliant advertising planners like @adliterate, @mweigel and (creative director) @davetrott; academics like @nathanjurgenson and @zephoria; independent thinkers like @mrteacup and @marginalutility; smart tech journalists like @alexismadrigal and @adrianchen; and innovative ad agencies like @bbhlabs have all helped me to think differently about the way I approach a project.

Within the market research industry, I particularly enjoy reading the thoughts of @tomewing, whose clarity of writing can help to simplify the most complex of ideas, and @hautepop, who isn’t afraid to share and test out her views on a very public forum.

On some, strange level, I feel like I actually work with these people, watching their thoughts pop up on my second screen throughout the day.

Their tweets can often feed into something I’m writing at that moment, and it motivates me in a not entirely dissimilar way to working with my old colleague.

Incidentally, she starts her new job today.

So good luck, @clairelmoon. I look forward to sharing a few more ideas yet. Let’s not succumb to digital dualism.