Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Un-Retired: The Start of Something New

Last Thursday, I took a bold step and announced my retirement from Twitter. My announcement coincided with my 20,000 update or tweet which is a pretty big deal when you think about how much time and effort it takes to do anything 20,000 times. While I knew it was unlikely that I would stay retired -- thus my comparison of my retirement to two of the greatest "un-retiring" athletes in the world -- I did enjoy my time away from microblogging.

So what did I do with my 120 hours of Twitter-free time? Well, in fairness, I wasn't completely Twitter free. In fact, a few of you caught me inadvertently sending DM's publicly (I did get a chuckle out of your mock outrage). But even though I did keep an eye on Twitter, I felt no pressure to respond, re-tweet or come up with clever little facts or quips. It was quite cathartic actually.

But you know what? I missed it. A lot. However, the time away did afford me the ability to think about what my future "social" strategy looked like. To that end, I've decided on makin
g a few changes as I move forward:
  1. I've talked a lot about signal to noise the last couple years but I haven't always done as good a job at delivering enough "signal." Now that my tweets are appearing on our company's home page, I'm more aware than ever of my conversations. That does NOT mean that I don't plan to swear, complain or throw out the occasional snarky tweet but instead, that I will think a little bit harder about lower value conversations (more on that in the next bullet).
  2. During my five day hiatus from Twitter, I did learn that I really do like conversing on Facebook. And you know what, Facebook is a great place for those "lower value" conversations that actually aren't really lower in value, but rather "de-valued" when they take place in front of tons of people that don't know you. What I mean by this is that out of the 9,500+ people that follow me on Twitter, I probably only know about 1,000 of them. On Facebook, I know closer to 750 of the 1,100 people that I've friended, and many are family members or friends from high school, college and live events.
  3. I need to spend more time blogging -- and not just fluff pieces. What I mean by this is that I felt really proud about posting the Age Wave piece that I co-penned with my friend, John Cass last week. We really thought that post through, did research and delivered a point of view. I want to do more of those thought pieces, both here and on my company blog. I also need to do a better job holding up my end of the bargain on the weekly podcast show I do with my partner in crime, Jennifer Leggio.
So there you have it. I'm officially un-retired. Yes, most of you knew this would come but hopefully I can keep up my resolution to refine my presence on Twitter and deliver more value than I have in the past. For those of you that don't like the new me, just come find me over on Facebook. In fact, you'll notice that I have a new, more serious avatar on Twitter while my old "grumpy-faced" avatar from SXSW has migrated to Facebook.

While I'm at it, I'm planning on getting healthy again. Yup, I've taken too much time off from running and eating well (7 months of commuting between MA and TX will do that to you). Make sure you ask me about my progress on this front regularly as I've found that guilt works wonders with me in terms of keeping me honest.


  1. Welcome back, Aaron. I look forward to your blogged thoughts! With that note, on to your RSS... :)

  2. ::huge sigh of relief::

    It's about time. Glad to have you back, Coach!

  3. -Shauna, Shawn & Sydney - happy to be back! Missed you all.

    -And a note to my wife that I didn't include in my original post. Part of what I also discovered was that staying off the grid save for an occasional Facebook update is not a bad thing. I love my family and need to keep working to spend more time with them. ;)

  4. Welcome back, we missed you! Now go get those fingers back in shape.

  5. Thanks Warren. I've been working 'em out like crazy!

  6. Aaron - best of luck with balancing everything. I completely understand.

  7. Aaron, somehow my comment didn't make it through yesterday, so trying again! Good to have you back on Twitter (though I had an inkling your "retirement" wouldn't last too long.)

    I think it's always wise to take the occasional break from activities that consume so much of our time. Gives us perspective on how we might do things better when we get back in the game.

    My two cents, though: Get rid of that new avatar photo. Kinda scary!

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  8. Bry - thanks for the welcome back (and I am seeing you now!) As for the new avatar picture, don't you know that "scary" is good? ;)

  9. Aaron,

    Given how much time we spend on social platforms like Twitter, inevitably the urge to take a self imposed "timeout" arises. I found that my experience taking a break was beneficial too, but as you know it is difficult to stay away for too long.

    A "timeout" give us the chance to reflect, and I think the realization that you came to is about giving your social media participation a tune-up. Less noise time (altho it can be fun and entertaining) on Twitter, and more "value" time on deep thinking, thoroughly researched blog posts, etc... I think it is easy to get lost in the sea of social sites, having a strategy and guide for when/how/where you're going to spend your time (much like Jeremiah Owyang does here - http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/11/29/how-i-use-twitter-and-you/ ) can make it easy to stay on track.

    That all said, welcome back my friend. Glad you didn't stay retired for an entire season!

  10. Mark - thanks man. i know you feel my pain/joy/need for balance.

    Ken - I like that. A "social media time out." I need more of those. ;)

  11. Thoughtful piece Aaron, I like your idea of being more careful with tweets and providing value.

    Hope we can do more collaboration with posts in the future.

  12. John - I appreciate the kind words. And while I may not have completely achieved my objectives of a more valuable tweet stream, I'm trying to get there.

    Definitely looking forward to more collaboration in the near future!