Thoughts on Chris Brogan’s Twitter Unfollow Experiment.

Keep Out Experiment In Progress

Disclosure #1:  I work with Chris at Human Business Works.
Disclosure #2:  Sometimes I disagree with him, it’s what makes HBW work.

The Experiment

Chris posted about the status of his Twitter Unfollow Experiment, citing at one point in the post,

A lot of what I do with each social media tool set is experiment. I work hard to understand what will work well, what won’t, what will serve my needs or my clients’ needs, and what will happen if I do this or don’t do that

Chris also pointed out that despite his original plan to follow people back, that he’s found value in the current state of things and may hang out at 300. A finding he would have never discovered had he not taken a risk and experimented and he’s happy to communicate and share those findings.

The Fear

In a conversation I participated in at PodCamp Boston 6 this past weekend I heard folks talk about the worry they held about their blog posts, ‘what if what I say is wrong?’ or ‘what if what I do is wrong?’
These are valid questions and I could feel and identify with the pain they were expressing and the agonizing over getting it right before posting on a blog or twitter, G+ or other site.

The Challenge

Getting stuff out there, “shipping” if you’re into Seth Godin’s stuff, is a real challenge. Particularly when we are worried about everyone’s perceptions about our brand, our knowledge, our expertise.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

We tell our kids this all the time and truthfully it’s also what you say.  However, how you communicate; earnestly, openly, confidently yet with the humility to know that there are people who are smarter than you, gets you a long way.

You’re going to be wrong

While there are steps you can take to limit the impact a botched experiment has on your brand, once you come to terms with the fact that you are going to be wrong from time to time, it’s easier to be confident with putting stuff out there, trying something new and taking the risk knowing that at least you’ll learn something along the way.

The Lesson

The real lesson in all that Chris did with the Twitter Unfollow Experiment is in the idea of experimentation, communication, and sharing the results.

Experiment because it’s good for you and your business to grow and try new things.

Communicate what you are doing and bring us along for the ride.  We may not like what you’re doing, but at least we understand it.

Share the results.  If you found value in the experiment, tell us about it so that we can draw our own conclusions as they apply to our situation.

A few parting questions:

As a brand or a representative of a brand, do you have the opportunity to experiment within your organization and how often to you take advantage of that?

As a leader, do you give permission for your employees to experiment?

How are you measuring what matters most in the experiment and how will you share it?


  • Holy Smokes – you blogged ;) Love this – especially the part about ‘sometimes I disagree with him.’

    All of life is an experiment. The minute we get caught up in ‘this is absolutely the ONLY right way’ – it usually means we’re having to eat our words. (blech)

    So test, test, test and test.
    And the answer to “what is the best way?” is always ‘well, it depends…’

    xo Carrie

  • rob

    September 27, 2011

    Thanks Carrie.

    I’m a big fan of ‘it depends…’

    Oh, and that’s my favorite part too. : )

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