Time flies when you're having fun, eh? So much has happened in the social media space during that time, looking back it's pretty incredible. As I write this post, I have tweeted close to 14,000 times (although somewhat bizarrely, Twitter claims I have tweeted only 30 times!).
That's a lot of links, retweets, conversations, connections, missives, rants, views and opinions, observations, Twitpics, jokes, quotes, comments, responses, witty comebacks, clunky retorts, plugs for blog posts and 'chest-beats' for business wins.
So what has Twitter done for me personally and professionally, or more importantly...what have I learned?
My absolutely number one observation?
Twitter has a disproportionate number of 'inhabitants' who are smart, witty, generous and respectful.
That's a lot of positive attributes and I'm happy to announce there are many people in the Twitterverse who fit this bill.
It's been an absolute privilege to share ideas, opinions and information with them, to engage in general banter, to agree to disagree...to learn new things, to better understand causes and social issues, to swap war stories (in 140 character bursts!) and generally increase the richness of our lives through ongoing interaction.
5 stages of Twitter acceptance
I once read there were five stages of Twitter acceptance (along the lines of):
- Twitter is the greatest waste of time. Ever!
- Okay, I'm getting on to this Twitter thing because everyone else is.
- I'm on Twitter and I've got to say it truly is the greatest waste of time!
- You persevere - "Okay, I think I'm maybe getting the hang of this."
- Twitter becomes a day-to-day part of your life.
Believe it! I certainly went through that process. What about you?
Dispelling the biggest myth
One misconception that continues to dog Twitter is that it's full of people who have nothing better to do than tell everyone what they had for lunch - err, no.
Three years ago when I first started, yes, there seemed to be quite a bit of that. Nowadays, even people who chat about their lunch understand you also need to take a Twitpic of your meal and make some sort of recommendation about the restaurant (is it a good 'un or one to avoid?) thereby adding value to the conversation.
Twitter is great for personal and business profile
If you own or manage a company, run a nonprofit organisation or you're in a business that requires some semblance of a public persona (e.g. consulting), then Twitter - indeed social media generally, and if used strategically - can help enormously.
Over the years, I have used Twitter to launch businesses, promote thought-leadership and recruit staff; it has also directly/indirectly helped me win new clients, secure speaking gigs and media interviews, and develop opportunities that otherwise I would have been blind to.
(By the way, this is not just a Twitter thing - running a regular blog and/or podcast and being an active participant on LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare etc are all part of my social web equation).
Twitter is all about OFFLINE
Okay, time to bust another myth...while a lot of Twitter action takes place online (obviously!), the SECRET of Twitter is offline connection. You know, good old-fashioned face-to-face!
* KER-THUMP! * (that would be the sound of Twitter critics falling to the floor).
People on Twitter are some of the funniest, intelligent, most interesting and generous folk I have ever met. The thing is, when you finally get to meet someone you've previously engaged with on Twitter, it's as if you're at meeting number three or four because the relationship has already been well-advanced.
It never ceases to amaze me how powerful that can be!
Respect - trust - transparency
Hopefully I didn't need reminding too much on this score but there is no doubt Twitter helps reinforce the need to be respectful to others, to be open to new ideas and opinions, to be transparent in your dealings online and, importantly, that trust and goodwill are the cornerstones of relationships. Good values, all the more amplified on Twitter.
Twitter - the 'oil' in the social media 'engine'
I often refer to Twitter as the 'oil' in the social media 'engine'. In other words, it's constantly circulating across the social web - it keeps all parts of the social media space working in terms of word-of-mouth buzz, distribution of content, sharing of ideas, links and information.
ZOMG! I've made so many new friends and contacts!
If nothing else, Twitter has expanded my network of friends and contacts exponentially. Think: Rolodex on steroids.
This needs little extrapolation - Twitter expands your universe and, here's the kicker - it helps people of like-minds to gravitate towards one another because of the tendancy to share similar values and interests.
I am humbled by many of the friendships I have made via Twitter (in the first instance). My life is all the richer for it.
Get free stuff!
And finally, Twitter sometimes has helped me score free stuff!
Thanks to the gang from Charlie's who brought smoothies into the office the other day!