It's been five years--and the Tweet goes on
Hat tip to Dan York for inspiring me to write this post. Turns out he and I have the same TwBirthday; we both started Twitter five years ago today, on October 24, 2006.
Dan of course remembers the day and date due to his high level of geek cred. I remember because a 'bot reminded me.
In 2006, I was stamping my geek feet in annoyance that I hadn't been able to get to SXSW, where Twitter hit the scene and I wasn't lucky enough to be among the first cool kids to try it out. But, since my gateway drug to social media was podcasting, a field in which I became entrenched in early 2005, I heard about Twitter on my then- and still-favorite social media and PR podcast, For Immediate Release.
Shel and Neville made it sound interesting, so I created an account with Chris Brogan as my godfather and took a stab at Tweeting. Brilliant it wasn't: "Trying out Twitter. I don't get it."
Since then, a lot has changed about how I use Twitter. At that time, I remember saying that I didn't believe I could really follow and consume content from more than about 200 people at a time. As Twitter exploded, that idea changed, and filters were created.
Following, Filtering and Conversion
Now, I have a policy of following people that I meet or strangers who follow but whose content is interesting. I do open HootSuite and check my feeds every day, but under the veil of a few filters. I check the main feed rarely; I've set up lists on my personal account of my favorite social media Tweeters and of my Seattle Tweeps. We all stay very busy, so Twitter is where I have conversations with people that I only get to see in person once a month or better. Here is an example: I rarely get to see the awesome developer goodness that is my friend Sasha, since we both work for startups, but look at this great two-way conversation from this morning:
The transition to widespread use of Twitter has been fascinating. In 2007 up through last year, I would still often hear the defensive: "I don't Twitter. I don't see the point." And then, grudgingly, even my dear friend and last Twitter holdout created an account just last week with the purchase of a new iPhone. His curmudgeonly excuse? "The iPhone 4s really wants you to Tweet."
How I use Twitter today
These days, I use Twitter in a few different ways. Yes, I use it for real conversations. I use it to bookmark interesting articles and videos that aren't quite blog-worthy. I use it to express solidarity with causes and outrage at events. I use it to crowdsource presentations and talks (just did this last week, in fact). I use it to help others find jobs, provide customer service and to get an afternoon chuckle. I use it to catalogue both joy and pain. I use it to solidify friendships, share photos and establish clients as information resources.
Over the past few years, I've written a bit on Best and Worst Practices for Twitter:
Twitter Best Practices
Twitter Worst Practices
But really, it comes down to this: Twitter has proven to be a great tool for staying in touch, catching news and stimulating conversation in a world that is just too busy. Whether I'm using it for business or posting photos of the French toast I just ordered, it's a way for me to stay connected with friends and thought leaders alike.