A couple of months ago, Jonathan Fields wrote a fantastic post for MyEscapeVelocity.com called The Fine Art of Chunking. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or if you have a really big project in front of you that just seems to grow the more you think about it, you should definitely give his post a read. As a preview, what Fields talks about is that instead of trying to take on a project or a huge goal all at once, it can be helpful to “chunk it.” Do this little thing, then that little thing. Before you know it, you’ve accomplished an awful lot.

Do you find yourself “chunking” when you’re on Twitter? I know I do. And I know we’re not alone.

The big picture

Let’s talk about Twitter first as the whole network. The whole enchilada. There are hem hem hem millions of people using Twitter every day. We are getting news from Twitter. We are getting advertised to on Twitter. We are following celebrities on Twitter. And most likely, we’re trying to get our voices out there in that mess too.

If you are using Twitter for business, it can seem like the prospect of you getting the word out about your specific business, not to mention your specific industry, is pretty small. It can feel like you are a drop in the ocean. We’ve talked before about how so often, no matter who you are, you send out a tweet and get an extremely small fraction of a response from your followers.

Some people are finding this very discouraging and are searching for other ways to get their business in front of people. However, there seems to be a growing trend out there. People are chunking Twitter so that they can be seen and heard and so that they can promote their businesses.

What do Twitter chunks look like?

If you haven’t joined a chat on Twitter yet, I highly recommend that you give it a try. Here’s a whole list of Twitter chats. Pick one that looks interesting. What you will find is that in chats, people are geared towards engaging with other people. It’s a conversation rather than a broadcast, right? Well, slowly but surely, it seems like these chats are developing into communities. Now, for me, I keep meeting new people via the chats I participate in, and I am privileged to be able to add many of them into my network of interactions. Other people use the chat hashtag even when the chat isn’t happening so that people can go in and see what else people are saying and doing.

Another really interesting Twitter chunk is the #usguys community. Perhaps you’ve seen that hashtag being used in your stream. It’s tough to say exactly what #usguys is, except to say that I think it might be the missing link between the Twitter of the now and the Twitter of the future. It’s an ongoing hashtag that evolved into occasional “official” chats. It’s a way for people to see each others’ tweets all the time. It’s a growing community floating on the stream that is Twitter at large.

The small town and the big city

Chris Brogan uses outpost terminology to describe places where you are communicating beyond your blog or website. Well, I think these Twitter chunks might become outposts within your Twitter outpost. In a great conversation I got to share with a lot of great people this morning, including Sean McGinnis, Tom Moradpour, Carl Sorvino, Chase Adams, and more, we discussed the fact that in the case of #usguys, the community under the hashtag has become self-sufficient. Members can always share ideas and be heard. Members can always introduce new people. Members can always tweet a post in and get feedback. Friends are there. Supporters are there. If the rest of Twitter is the big city, there isn’t a huge incentive to travel there. Out there, you are just another drop in the ocean. In a chunk like #usguys, you’re a person who gets heard. All the time. And not just heard – you get greeted warmly. You get to joke. You get to be yourself. And you get to get your message out there.

Can business grow in chunks?

Here’s my question. Whether you are trying to build a personal brand or grow a business on Twitter, the goal, ultimately, is to use Twitter as a tool to reach a lot of people, right? You want to meet new people, you want to build relationships, and you want to get the word out there to people who might not know you or your company.

If everybody starts gravitating towards chunks, or outposts, or small towns, is Twitter really going to remain a tool that can be used to grow business or brands? If you keep talking to the same group on a daily basis, and if you don’t find the at-large Twitterverse to be particularly lucrative, is Twitter really helping your business grow? Are you growing your brand if you are building deep relationships with a few people rather than passing relationships with thousands?

Here’s where you chime in

What do you think about the world of Twitter right now? If you are using it to grow your business or your personal brand (or both), are you finding that it’s more useful to stay out in the big stream, or do you find yourself gravitating towards the same people, the same Twitter chunks, on a regular basis? Do you feel that is helping or hindering?

I’m truly excited to converse about this. I’d love to discuss this topic with you!

Image by Robin Utracik. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/RobinUtrac