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Letter from the Dean
Eight Reasons Why I Tweet
I wrote my first note on Twitter on July 3, 2009: “In today and it’s gloriously quiet. Working on three-pager, ‘Berkeley-Haas: Who We Are.’ Our 10 most defining characteristics. Great fun.” At the time, of course, I didn’t know exactly where Twitter would take me, or that the school would be fortunate enough to sign on Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as a Haas executive fellow. Twitter was simply a fast, easy way to connect with the Haas community.
Since then, I’ve been amazed at Twitter’s ability to foster this connection. At Haas events around the world—in Shanghai, Budapest—alumni have come up to me and out of the blue said that they read something I wrote on Twitter. The connection power is immense.
Here are some other reasons why I tweet:
1 As dean, I get exposed to fascinating new ideas every day. I enjoy broadcasting those ideas to a wider audience.
2 Our school is breaking new ground on several fronts. Tweeting is a helpful way to get the word out.
3 Tweeting helps me stay in even closer touch with our students. Not all of them follow me, to be sure, but those who do often mention the added connection they feel.
4 Tweeting helps me stay in closer touch with other people important to the school. For example, long-time Berkeley-Haas Professor Dave Aaker, who recently retired. Dave just published another book. I tweeted about it. As a result, he and I have had several Twitter exchanges that would not otherwise have occurred.
5 Tweeting helps in the continuing effort to sharpen our school’s narrative. I lean into areas that are fundamental to our reputation.
6 Tweeting takes very little time. When I became dean in 2008, I was encouraged to blog to get my ideas out. But I just could not find the time to do so consistently. At 140 characters a pop, Twitter has proven to be an ideal partner.
7 Tweeting about upcoming events, industry panels, and conferences helps me keep alumni and donors engaged and excited about their alma mater.
8 Tweeting is a chance to (try to) be funny. But I have learned that attempting humor in 140 characters is no easy task, especially if followers aren’t expecting it. One day I tweeted, “I am having a very good hair day.” Within a couple hours, one of my direct reports called, seeing the source was my cell phone, and asked only half in jest if my phone had been stolen.
I realize not everyone is interested in reading my short Twitter snippets, and I never would have expected that some 3,000 people would sign on as “followers.” If you are interested in joining that group, look me up on Twitter @richlyons. Otherwise, as always, I welcome your suggestions and comments at email@example.com.