Five years ago today, I opened what I refer to as my “personal” Twitter account – I feel like I owe the internet an apology, but #sorrynotsorry is actually more appropriate. I’m inching closer to 36,000 tweets via that handle and have 181 followers (a good percentage of which are probably spambots that I haven’t weeded out), but I don’t have a number for the importance that Twitter has in my life.
During the past five years, I’ve used the site to gather information, connect with established friends and find new ones, and discover all sorts of things. I’m absolutely in the camp who believe that Twitter is now one of the world’s best news services: as a live, publically-populated micro-blogging site without a filter, it’s sometimes the most efficient way to follow current events. Of course sometimes, the world gets carried away or barks up the wrong tree – this is what happens when you’re not waiting on mass media conventions such as double confirmation – but given the volume of users and traffic it supports, Twitter doesn’t often get it wrong.
Those of us who’ve been around for longer than a few minutes have, of course, experienced frustrations – you may remember the #failwhale if you experienced Twitter pre-server move – but with my physical network of friends and interests increasingly scattered across the globe, it’s a service I value highly.
Particular highlights during my five years as a Tweeter have included:
- winning tickets to Hummingbird Bakery’s opening/Christmas preview party in Spitalfields for myself and a plus one
- having one of my Tweets discussed by Aggers and the TMS team live on air during the Boxing Day Test of 2010 (and yes, some of my Twitter friends were listening and congratulated me in the appropriate manner – via Twitter)
- mentions from a variety of people in the public eye, including Clare Balding agreeing with my opinion on a showjumper, Russell Grant asking how he might get Phil Tufnell’s phone number and kisses from Giles Coren
When I started my blog, it wasn’t a question for me of whether or not I’d link it to Twitter, but of finding an appropriate username on both my blog’s host site and Twitter in order to have a coherent brand name. Both accounts continue to be important to me, although my usage of my “personal” five-year old account has dwindled recently in favour of my blog’s Twitter (and because it’s spring and there’s nothing good on TV).
Despite having been at it for almost a year, I feel like my blog’s Twitter account is still growing into itself, but it has been incredibly useful for building links and bonds – the immediacy of the service and ability to spread a message has again proven critical. I’ve read a little into how other bloggers use Twitter to push their websites forward, which has been useful in starting to help me grow, and I’ve given in to the idea of using pre-set Tweets so that even if I’m not available, my blog and Twitter accounts can work for me – with a little help from HootSuite – to soldier on without me.
Nobody could have known what Twitter would become when it first began, years before I was aware of it, but it continues to grow and positively impact the lives of users everywhere. For those who understand it, it’s a powerful tool and valuable resource in promotion and keeping up with news – whether it’s politically important or trashy gossip. And to those who have yet to be converted, you don’t know what you’re missing (hint: free cupcakes, pictures of what people are eating for dinner, and my vitally important opinions of everything from Aldi adverts to sporting events).
Twitter welcomed me with open arms five years ago, and there’s no way I’m leaving any time soon.