As you have probably noticed, I have not
blogged in months. I know, shame on me. But good news is I'm back and
ready to share my little heart out about all things digital and social.
Although somewhat random, I decided my first post back would take you
through my personal experience and thoughts on Twitter. I've been thinking a lot
about the future lately and in doing so my mind always wanders to the
past, how it all started and where it lead me to.  

Click, Follow, Click, Follow

94488043

I joined Twitter 2007 and for quite some time it was my only digital
presence, and because of that it really shaped my approach to all the
networks from that point forward. I was a power networker and adamant
about following back those that followed me (with the exception of
spammers and shameless promoters) and chatted, shared and supported
anyone and everyone who crossed my Twitter path. My philosophy was
simple – if someone found me interesting enough to follow, I should
open the door and extend the same thing back. This was the early stages
of Twitter, when it was small yet growing, and so following back just
seemed like the right social thing to do. It was easy to manage then,
and we were all trying to learn from each other. Following was the
thing to do, and I embraced it fully without hesitation.  


Click, follow, click, follow, click, follow. As the site grew so did the follower requests, which required hours  of click, follow, click, follow every
day just to keep up, not even including time spent actually engaging
and interacting with those new followers. I was willing to put in the
time though because I was a passionate user and believer in where this
whole Twitter thing was going. Today, I'm often asked "how did you get
so many followers?" and always think back to the days of click, follow, click, follow and
say "for a good part of a year I spent almost all my free time on
Twitter following, @ing, DMing and interacting with total strangers,
who introduced me to more strangers, whom eventually  became friends and
my biggest online supporters." 

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

Those early days seem so far away to me now, and it's probably because
the voyage through the ever changing and evolving space we call social
media has been a journey of trial and error, big success and utter
failure. My work and the people who followed, listened to and supported
me have shaped and reshaped the person I am and the vision i have for
myself in the future. I feel so fortunate to have connected with so
many people, many of which I have never met but nonetheless are
important to my life. 

With that said, there was a time (a little over a year ago) where I
just about gave up on Twitter. It just became too unmanageable, time
consuming and just plain noisy. The new followers were so hard to sift
through because of the influx of crafty spammers, marketers and brands.
For those who were watching, I was getting popular and gaining
influence, but it seemed so false to me, because more followers didn't
mean better relationships or experiences. [CONTINUED…]


140 characters, thousands of uses

But it turned around pretty quickly and over the last year, Twitter has
proven to me its importance in the world . Well, let me clarify.
Twitter isn't really that important to the future, but we the users are
and our commitment to continue to use the tool to unite, motivate,
learn and support each other. We are making a difference 140 characters
at a time, even if it doesn't feel like it. The interaction and touch
points we share with others, albeit virtual, makes us connected and
more accountable to the world. That may sound a little over the top,
but the millions of conversations and information shared between users
everyday brings us all closer together, even if just a little bit at a
time. 

And we have even also seen institutions, governments, non-profits,
churches and yes even companies and brands use Twitter to improve their
place in the world. Large institutions and governments are reaching out
to directly share, connect and listen to their supports as well as
their opposers; non-profits are sharing their work and raising
awareness of global issues and underfunded causes, without much of a
marketing budget; and even big self-serving brands are investing,
listening and nurturing open conversations and feedback with with their
supporters, while at the same time publicly addressing the complaints
from their disappointed consumers. Twitter makes everyone more
accountable and less ignorant of reality. 

Understaffed

In 2009, Twitter blew up and so did my personal brand and network of
followers. I just have
to accept that I can't operate under my old philosophy, and that it's
okay if I don't follow, respond and interact with everyone – although I
still try. It's hard to juggle all the followers, all the questions,
all the friend requests, all the information and not enough time. 
Still, I don't
know what my day would be like without the people I connect with on
twitter. It has become such a huge part of my life that my Twitter
account
could be a full time job, one for which I am way understaffed. 

Off to check on my Twitter account….  😉

About Julia Roy

12 Comments

  • JavaJunky says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine how overwhelming the stream of information from your twitter feed is. I can say that the reason why you’re one of my favorite people I’ve met off of twitter is because you do interact with your twitter friends even now when you have 42 kabillion followers. Glad you’re blogging again. I love reading your stuff. Tweet you lata. :)

  • Souschuk says:

    You know, I joined Twitter maybe like a half a year ago, but concentrated my attention on it for two months ago. And I don’t actually remember how it really started, but I DO remember how I saw your video on youtube and then I thought: “Oh, what a nice girl” (and you know this) and then I thought “What’s on her mind” and this is how I decided to take a part in Twitter-party.
    All I wanted to say with this is just… thanks, Julia =)

  • Jon S. says:

    Twitter exploded back in March 2009 and EVERYONE who wasn’t on it started to. I was already following you before the outburst and at the time was impressed that you actually followed everyone back. I was only imaging how hectic things were getting not just with real people but with all those bots. Besides, lists can only go so far.
    Today, pretty much every brand has a twitter account (facebook too). Its almost like it’s mandatory. A quick and easy way to stay connect to “fans” of the product. A step up from email blasts.
    But what is really the most powerful thing about twitter is the instant news. I know people who got swept up in the twitter crazy but now have lost interest but haven’t canceled their account mainly for the news, whether it be world, celebrity, sports, etc. Twitter is the new age RSS.
    I’ll end this with a welcome back to the blogging world :)

  • Your journey sounds similar to mine, though you are way ahead of where I am at present. Great to see you blogging again and I’ll continue to look to you as an example Julia!
    All the best.

  • Andrealessi says:

    Coming late to the Twitter party (guess I’m not a trendsetter!) I’ve had an interesting ride so far. In particular, I’ve seen the same patterns in how the network deals with newcomers that other social networking sites had (e.g. Myspace)-people who have the knack of inserting themselves into these (effectively public) conversations gain followers quickly, while others either lurk or rapidly discourage others from following them with spammish or obnoxious behaviour.
    It really can be daunting for some people who have never experienced that kind of open social networking before, so I understand why some people might pick Twitter up, try it out for a few weeks, and end up quitting because “Twitter sucks!”
    Personally, I’ve stuck with it because I’ve managed to reconnect with several local people I previously knew through other sites-I’m not the new kid at school, it’s just a new class and I’m catching up with old friends. That’s had enough of a snowball effect for me to gather enough critical mass to feel like I’m genuinely connected to one part of the Twitter community.

  • Your social philosophy is a good one to have. One that reminds us about what social media is all about – doing, learning and sharing. Great post Julia!

  • Macgenie says:

    Twitter does not scale on the personal level, sadly. I primarily follow my friends in the Macintosh industry, and I love the virtual water cooler use of Twitter. I try to follow local Portland tweeple as well, but then the feed starts to feel a bit incoherent. When I add in internet folks at large, then it really gets hard to follow.
    You can only really follow a limited number of people. I have avoided following everyone I’m interested in or like, and then using some kind of filter to manage the feed. That’s not really “following.” But I started following you because I was intrigued by what you do, and that led me to this post, which I found really thought-provoking.
    Sigh, I’m thinking I’m just going to have to find a way to manage “following” more people than I can really follow, without losing my beloved water cooler.

  • Titter can be a little hard to keep up with sometimes (just like blogging) but I think list have been a great tool for sorting through the noise, now if they would only include bios in the request notices.

  • 365daygirl says:

    Awesome awesome post. I love to hear the stories of amazing tweeps. I am currently in the beginning phase of my own social media mastery project. With 230 followers currently the conversations and the information I have the opportunity to participate in are very exciting. I have learned very quickly however it’s not about trying to become a social media expert but rather it’s about regularly practicing the Art of social media and allowing that practice to inform your very real life both on and off of the web. Every time I tweet I make a choice about what I am contributing to the world and what I am choosing to benefit from. Before when I saw Twitter as merely broadcasting one’s breakfast and bowel habits now I see it as so much more – a chance to really connect with others provided I share messages that matter. 140 characters is a wonderful limited palette to work with making it just a little bit easier to cut out the bullshit and just type whats real :)
    Again, thank you SO much for this post. You are fabulous!

  • Good ideas can only last so long before becoming overwhelming and abused. :( I have an old Twitter account that gets at least 82 gazillion new follows from high follow/low tweet peeps that all have something to do with Forex. Like, gag me with a spoon.

  • Empoprises says:

    One issue with Twitter is that it’s hard to have a deep, coherent conversation. That having been said, Twitter’s ease of use certainly encourages people to join in. In my view, there are better conversational tools – then again, I’m part of the 50% that stayed with FriendFeed after Facebook acquired it. But even I recognize that FriendFeed has nowhere near the numbers that Twitter does.

  • Julia – First of all, I must say that you are the queen of the expressive face. I crack up every time I go to your site. Thanks for the looks!
    I wanted to use Twitter to build my brand, ( @BizBuilderUSA )but more than that, to promote the F2F possibilities, which is the backbone of the organization. I have had mediocre success, but that will come with time and clicks, it sounds like by your article.
    My issue now is the robots are taking over… I wanted to build the following and now I have over 1000, but I suspect that 800 of them are robots… arrgh. what to do?

Leave a Reply