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
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
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.
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
could be a full time job, one for which I am way understaffed.
Off to check on my Twitter account…. 😉