Here's today's column, from MediaPost's Social Media Insider.
The world's gone (bleep)ing mad.
When Your Mother-in-Law Visits Twitter
I try to explain what's happening now, I keep returning to that
thought. It's what I told my dinner companions Thursday night at the
Search Insider Summit, moments after I called my wife and she couldn't
talk because she was teaching her mom how to use Twitter.
aside the fact that, at the time, my wife had never used Twitter. She's
been a loyal reader of my blog since we started dating, but she hasn't
seen any of my tweets since I joined Twitter in March 2007. Put aside
the fact that I've personally sat down with countless executives and
marketers to walk them through Twitter. Put aside the fact that the day
my wife told me this, I was working on a presentation for the Brandhackers Meetup
that was all about the tools people can use to manage Twitter. And put
aside the fact that my mother in law just got a laptop — her first
computer — three days prior as an early Mother's Day gift from her
Okay, I lied. Don't put it all aside because it
makes no sense. Who in the name of Oprah thought my mother-in-law would
be asking my wife about Twitter? It reminds me of the times growing up
when family friends would call my house to discuss medical issues and
talk to my mom, a real estate agent, instead of my dad, a
My email notifications tell the story another way. At 3:57 p.m Thursday, @barbadel started following me on Twitter. The other person she was following: Larry King. Her sister @CandysTime followed me at 4:05 p.m. At 7:27p.m, my wife @caralana
started following me. Before that, the only relative I saw on Twitter
— and one of the only people I've seen there from my personal social
sphere — was my 19-year-old cousin Eddie, and his Twitter profile
comes with an entire brand identity around his @eddiefresh persona.
what happened? I went to the source and emailed Barbara, better known
as @barbadel, for her thoughts. This new technology enthusiast
responded to me right away — via her iPhone.
David Berkowitz: Why did you join Twitter?
@barbadel: I joined to stay current, relevant and stalk my son-n-law (joking).
DB: How has the experience been so far?
Absolutely addicting… I want to manage several Twitter accounts to
increase visibility, both for personal and business uses. [I
recommended she try HootSuite to do this.]
DB: I saw you're following Larry King. What do you think of his tweets?
@barbadel: I love Larry King' competitive spirit… but "I'm eating peanut butter now…" — why bother? [She's serious. He wrote last Thursday, "one of my new favorite foods is peanut butter."]
DB: Do you think you'll still be using Twitter a month from now?
@barbadel: Twitter therapy in a month will be required, and some sleep… I hope my husband doesn't regret the laptop gift.
DB: What do you wish could be better about Twitter?
People like Michelle Obama and others may be hard to get here. Maybe
it's a security issue. I convinced my sister and daughter to get on
board and we are tweeting.
I've had several conversations
with Barbara since then, all of them revolving around Twitter. Each
time, along with discussing some new tip or tool I'm teaching her, she
asks how we can get another member of the family on board. She's been
plotting how to rope in her son, my mom, my aunt, and even my
grandmother. She already has her husband tweeting and trying to keep up
She also has a real knack for it. While she's still
figuring out what to tweet about and how to tweet it, she is developing
three personas: her own, one for her business, and a hybrid that's a
more personal version of the business account. We'll check in with her
later on to see if she's keeping up her Twitter empire, or she joins
the ranks of the Twitter quitters (I'm betting on the former).
are only two things that would make the experience better for her: if
Larry King would tweet less about peanut butter, and if he'd start
replying to her. In the meantime, it's proving effective for stalking
her son-in-law, daughter, sister, and anyone else she can convince to