A strange beast (that tweets)

The other day, I was chatting to a friend about Twitter. He’s never used it and I think it’s fair to say is a bit mystified by the very idea, not to mention the terminology that comes with it. In the course of our conversation I found myself describing Twitter as ‘a strange beast’ – and I stand by that.

I joined Twitter out of necessity; I was setting up an account for work and had no idea what to do. I decided it was better to experiment and make foolish mistakes on my own Twitter feed than on the company one, having seen one too many blog posts about social media disasters bringing down businesses. I’ve now had a Twitter account for over two years and in that time have racked up an impressive 62 followers. (When I hit 50, I got overexcited and tweeted about it. The next day I noticed I was back to 49. Hmph.)

During those two years, I’ve mostly been a ‘lurker’. What this means is that I’ve followed lots of other people and done lots of reading of tweets, but I’ve not tweeted much myself unless I had a specific reason. I’ve tried a few experiments with the more mundane ‘what I’m doing right now’ type of tweet, but to be honest I always felt a bit silly sharing it with my handful of followers, in the 99.9% certainty that they couldn’t care less what I was watching on TV. So I’ve mainly stuck to using Twitter to contact people or companies I particularly want to get hold of (tip: if you want to complain about a company, do it on Twitter; you’re practically guaranteed a response), to share these blog posts, and to moan about trains – because everyone does that; it’s like a nationally recognised commuter sport.

The other day, I decided to tweet asking if anyone fancied joining my book club (you remember my book club; it’s the awesome one). For the first few days, I didn’t hear anything, much as I’d expected. Then on Monday someone noticed it and shared it with a couple of friends. And then everything went a little bit mad for 24 hours. But in a nice way.

Firstly, as a direct result of the tweet being shared, we’ve recruited three new book clubbers, who all live near me. That’s three people I’d likely never have met otherwise, who all sound lovely. The same person who spotted my tweet then discovered a post I wrote about six months ago on the hidden delights of Dartford. He mentioned it, and it got picked up by a couple of other people, who shared it with their own followers. The next day, that post got 85 hits (to put that in context, up to then it had had 20).

I then discovered one of the people who retweeted the post was a local parish councillor. I thanked him and mentioned I was planning another post on a similar line. He responded by offering some info to help me with it, which I gratefully accepted.

What else? Oh right, I’ve discovered among my new followers a fellow fan of one of my favourite obscure musicians, and I’ve been welcomed into the local community with an invitation to take part in a local litter pick in January.

It’s all calmed down again now and I’m back to my nice invisible Twitter existence. But it just goes to show what one tweet can do. I guess it’s like a lot of things really – being in the right place at the right time. I don’t think I’m ever likely to become the world’s most prolific tweeter (twitterer? twit? See, I don’t even know what the right word is) but maybe I’ll try and post a bit more often. Although I can also see how people can get addicted to Twitter, and I don’t want to find myself constantly reaching for my phone to tell the world what I think about stuff. I do enough of that already – although you’re still here, so obviously you don’t mind too much.

If you’d like to follow me and watch me trying to find something to say that’s not about a delayed train, I’m @lizzid82.

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One thought on “A strange beast (that tweets)

  1. Twitter is a complete mystery to me too. It’s hard enough writing a Facebook status that isn’t either horribly dull or feels attention seeking and it has never even occurred to me that Twitter might be a good idea. Your adventures this week have made me wonder, though…

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