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Recently, I started participating in very popular group on Twitter called #usguys. This “from-all-walks-of-life” worldwide group is made up of a diverse set of individuals — young professionals, consultants, corporate executives, students, Moms, bloggers, cutting across different races, demographics and gender lines. Their mission is to spread “social good” through social media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many different blogs.
The group was originally founded by five key members: Cristian Gonzales(@galactic), Tom Moradpour (@TomMoradpour), Jason Mikula (@mikulaja), Patrick Prothe (pprothe) and Chase Adams (@RealChaseAdams). I actually had the pleasure of meeting with Chase here in Atlanta last week to share my views on the group and discuss #usguys’ vision and strategy in general.
According to their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/theusguys), the #usguys mission statement originally started out as a way for members, which they refer to as a “tribe,” to communicate their thoughts on marketing, social media, customer care and corporate transparency.
Chase has described it as: “A proverbial social media garage, where we pop the hood on social media, marketing and customer care.”
The #usguys tribe currently looks at trends in technology, the state of social media, what it is to be a part of social media, what works in marketing, what’s trending in marketing, what companies are doing wrong, what they could do better, how they communicate, what works, and what doesn’t work. Think of the popular TV show, “Survivor,” where the “tribe” is working together for one united cause/purpose.
From my perspective, the #usguys tribe adds tremendous value on hot trends in the social media and technology landscape. In fact, many #usguys members have prominent voices in other popular Twitter marketing, technology, blogging and social media chats.
The tribe also tries to keep conversations and debates light and casual — very similar to a “fraternity house” atmosphere you may have encountered in your college days. In addition to the serious subjects noted above, the #usguys tribe chats about beer, coffee and they even go out-of-the-way to say good morning and good night to each other. Kind of like a family.
Think of a typical lounge you hang out at during a trade show or event. #Usguys, similar to the now-defunct popular TV show, “Cheers,” aims to make sure everyone knows your name.
One of the most unique rituals #usguys has is “Ringing the Tribal Bell” for newcomers to the chat. I believe this is a very unique way of introducing new members to the group and keeping them interested, engaged and entertained in the lively discussions on #usguys.
Lately, I have been voicing my concerns to the group that this #usguys craze has become way too big for its own good. In fact, yesterday, one of the members said there have been 698 Contributors over the seven days and more than 1,500 tweets per day. To be precise, Chase told me there are 200 unique contributors to #usguys and more than 700 re-tweets on a weekly basis.
As a key influencer in the technology, marketing and social media landscape, I would like to propose a few new wrinkles to the #usguys phenomenon:
1) Your charter is to listen, engage and respect all members of the community. My experience is many members of #usguys love to engage and welcome you to new discussions on social media, marketing and technology. However, in a course of day literally hundreds of separate conversations are happening making it very hard for new members like me to engage and voice our opinions and perspectives.
My proposal: Like other popular twitter chats (i.e. #b2bchat, #PR20chat, #archat, #imcchat, #leadershipchat) come up with one or two conversation topics a day to keep the conversation more effective and engaging. From my understanding, #usguys is seriously thinking about new streams (i.e. #usblogs) to stimulate deeper conversations and discussions about specific topics.
2) I never belonged to a “fraternity” in college because I didn’t want to be part of a “cliquey” group. I thought hazing rituals and drinking games were for people who didn’t know how to make friends.
My proposal: If you want to form cliques or private groups in #usguys set up separate IRL tweetups and meetups in major cities. I’m actually planning an Atlanta #usguys tweetup in the Spring with Chase. Another solution: Set up separate #usguys groups for people interested in beer, coffee, and Skyping with each other at late nights.
3) #Usguys is on the edge of something great but the tribe is relatively unknown to the greater social media universe. So how do you make this Twitter phenomenon part of the social media fabric?
My proposal: Publicize, market and spread the good news about the #usguys craze. #Usguys members are very influential on the social media landscape. Many are actually on the speaking circuit and are former executives for major companies who have successfully launched their own consulting companies. Why not set up a #usguys speaking circuit at major conferences and events i.e. the upcoming SXSW event in Austin, Texas?
In addition, how about setting up a very basic #usguys website with goals and objectives for the group as well as tribal rules or engagement? This would make it easier for mainstream bloggers like the Huffington Post, Mashable and others to write feature stories on #usguys.
4) Stop being “inclusive” and make it a universal chat group for all.
My proposal: Stop worrying about re-naming and re-branding the group because some people are offended by the #usguys name. Make sure the original Founding Fathers actively engage with new members of the group to make them feel like they are part of the conversation.
Bottom line: A little bit of refinement, new structure and order, and new rules of engagement will help #usguys truly tap into the “currently submerged” iceberg of opportunity here. And revolutionizing how conversations flow and becoming thought leaders on the marketing, technology and social media landscape will help the tribe continue its popularity for many years to come.
If you are currently a #usguys member or exploring participation in the tribe, I would love to hear your thoughts…