If you know me through Twitter, or use Twitter in a serious, ongoing way it’s likely you’ve stumbled across a tweet or two with the #usguys hashtag in it. After seeing #usguys often enough, you’ve probably wondered “just what the heck is #usguys, anyway?”
A few short weeks ago I was asking that same question, as I watched more than a few dozen tweets fly by with the #usguys hashtag. Intrigued, I dug deeper and ran a twitter search for the hashtag. What I discovered amped up my Twitter experience and might have the same impact on you. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
First, a little background.
Like most great web tools, the #usguys hashtag evolved organically – out of need. As the Gap logo fiasco was going down, five twitter users started chatting amongst themselves about what was happening. As you might imagine, carrying on a “conversation” in twitter with five people at the same time is a bit awkward, as more and more of the 140 characters devoted to twitter handles. So the group devised a shorthand way to identify their group – and the #usguys hashtag was born.
I recommend the following blog posts written by those that were part of the movement from the very beginning.
Now that you have a little background on how #usguys came to be, you’re probably still asking yourself, “that’s all fine and dandy, but what exactly is the #usguys hashtag?”
Well, that’s a great question, and one that does not, to this day, have an easy answer. The mechanics of the hashtag is that it acts as a sort of 24/7 chat room. Most people that use it create a search column in their twitter tool of choice so they can easily refer to what and who is “in the stream”. That’s just one example of how #usguys CAN be used. It is much more than that. I suppose the best way to convey what #usguys represents to me is to share my thinking: first I’ll share with you what it is (to me), then I’ll share with you exactly how I use it.
What is #usguys? Well, to me…
- #Usguys is engaging – I’ve had some great conversations with incredibly smart and talented people on Twitter since I started using the service. #usguys has upped the concentration of those conversations. They now happen daily instead of weekly or monthly. Every day I have have the privilege of engaging with really smart people.
- #Usguys is diverse – To be fair, on the whole Twitter is very diverse. As we learned from recently released Pew Internet Center statistics, there’s a higher percentage of black and latino populations using twitter than there are whites. But to me, my main stream was becoming a bit like an echo chamber. I tend to follow people who are interested in similar things as me. We’re all techno-geeks, seo’s, Internet marketers and social media experts. #usguys has more than a few of those, but there’s also teachers, new age wellness experts and more – oh and #usguys is very diverse geographically. We have more than a few people that are living and work overseas playing in the #usguys stream.
- #Usguys is funny – Because so much of the #usguys stream is based on engaging conversation, there tends to be a lot of ribbing and teasing that goes on. Way more than in my main stream. I like that. A lot.
- #Usguys is magnetic – Because it’s engaging, and because it’s diverse, #usguys has a tendency to attract new members of the “tribe.” Just in the few weeks since I’ve been hanging out in the #usguys stream, at least three of my connections from Twitter have stopped by and joined the conversations. It seems many other Twitter users are longing to feel more connected to their Twitter friends. #usguys seems to provide that feeling.
- #Usguys is intelligent – #Usguys tends to attract a highly intelligent, very engaging bunch of people. And, because of the level of engagement, we tend to talk more deeply about fairly important things. Despite the running commentary on the usefulness of Klout (which is little more than a running gag), there tends to be a very high degree of sophistication within the stream.
- #Usguys is spam free – I’m surprised #usguys hasn’t been infiltrated by a bunch of spammers <KNOCK WOOD>. That may yet happen, but as of today, there’s a much higher signal to noise ratio than there is in the main Twitter stream. #Usguys also lacks much of the self promotion I see quite a bit of on Twitter.
- #Usguys is supportive – The group is very supportive. We support the efforts of others within the group. We comment on each others’ blogs. We show interest in each others’ personal lives. We’re beginning to connect beyond the bounds of Twitter, by having drinks and meals together. I appreciate that.
Ways I use #usguys
- I use #usguys as my main twitter stream – My main twitter stream remains a bit overwhelming. I spend about 60% of my twitter time checking out the #usguys stream and commenting within that stream. And when I am in the main stream, I’m usually searching for cool links I can share with #usguys.
- I use #usguys instead of lists – I’ve never been a big user of Twitter lists. Creating and maintaining lists seems like a lot of work. Instead, I just look to the #usguys stream.
- I use #usguys as my referral resource – When I need feedback on a software or online app, I turn to #usguys and for feedback on what’s working for them.
- I use #usguys as a primary discovery engine – I find out tons of cool new tools and resources by hanging in the #usguys stream.
- I use #usguys as a modern version of an old school aol chat room – #usguys is like an aol chat room from the old days of the interwebz.
Predictions and open questions about #usguys
It’s too early to tell where #usguys is headed. But I do get nervous. #Usguys has been such a positive force within twitter for those that enjoy the tribe, I’m worried that things can’t continue to go this smoothly forever. Then again, I realize that we have the ability to positively influence the future of the group, and to work towards a positive outcome for all involved. Nevertheless, here are some concerns and/or predictions that have been preoccupying my mind a bit lately.
- #usguys will be replicated (if it hasn’t been already) – There are millions of twitter users, and it’s entirely possible that the phenomenon I know as #usguys has already been replicated somewhere else in a different corner of Twitter. If it hasn’t yet, it will be. What will the characteristics of that group be? Does Twitter have data on these groups?
- #usguys will get too big for its britches – I don’t necessarily mean this in a pejorative sense, but more in a literal sense. As #usguys grows and grows is will begin to take on the negative characteristics of the main stream. One of the reasons #usguys works for me today is the relatively small size of the group. Its easy to extract value from a group of 25-50 people at any one given time. It becomes exceedingly difficult to do so from hundred or thousands. Which raises the question – is there an optimum number of members of a group like #usguys? I honestly don’t know. I’m pretty sure time will tell.
- #usguys will get too big for its britches – OK, now I actually do mean it in a pejorative sense. As the group grows, it’s possible that it will be looked upon as an entity with some form of influence or power. What happens then? Will the colloquial feeling of #usguys go away as members angle for power within and without the group? Way too early to say, but my pessimistic side has some concerns with what might happen. What do you think?
- #usguys will become commercial – There’s one of two things that might happen here. Someone might see an opportunity to come in and “sponsor” #usguys or otherwise try to become intertwined or affiliated with the group. Or someone within might try to find a way to monetize and/or commercialize what’s happening. Not that either of those things are “bad” per se. Far from it. But I suspect the dynamic of the group might change dramatically if either of those two things comes to pass. Either way, it will be fun to watch.
- #usguys will become a feature of Twitter – In the event #usguys starts to be replicated with other hashtags, I wonder if Twitter will try to build similar functionality directly into the system – so that we’re not devoting some of our 140 characters group identification. I’m unsure how that might work, but I’m certain it will come up at Twitter HQ (if it hasn’t already).
I find it difficult to fully communicate the ways in which #usguys has changed the way I interact with my networks. Last week I wrote a post entitled 3 Ways To Engage Your Network For Maximum Results. The post detailed the three changes I’ve made recently and how those changes are helping me connect more deeply with my network. All three of those changes have been taken to new levels since joining the #usguys tribe.
What about you? Have you seen the #usguys hashtag in your stream? Ever wondered what it was all about? Are you a member of the #usguys tribe? Do my predictions resonate with you? Any others you would add? How has #usguys changed you?
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