Seven Things I Discovered in Seven Years on Twitter

Happy Twitter anniversary to me! Yes, I’ve been on Twitter for seven years — that’s 99.9% longer than all other Twitter users, and 82% of its existence. It’s been an amazing journey. Little did I know back then how important it would become to me personally and in business.

Rewind to October 2007

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  • Twitter had just turned six months old
  • The iPhone was four months old
  • Chrome Browser had not been invented
  • Imeem was the fastest-growing social site in the U.S
  • As for social networks, Facebook was starting to challenge Classmates.com but MySpace still dominated
  • People still spent time on Yahoo and MSN Groups! and AOL Hometown
  • ICQ was more than an abbreviation

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While I was testing out the new Flock browser, according to my first Tweet, Jeremy Owang was discussing how he uses Twitter and some of his personal do’s and don’ts of Twitterquette — that debate and discussion still takes place to this day.

Twitter: The Early Days

For the early days of social media marketing, Twitter was the place to be. It was like an endless cocktail party or mixer where you could connect with people in real time in different places around the world without ever leaving your office.

It was like nothing anyone had ever experienced before, imagine the freedom and ability to text message all of your friends at once.

It was a powerful tool that businesses hadn’t figure out yet. Most people on at that time were digital pioneers, the early adopters excited about discovery and connecting with those they didn’t know in an effort to create community.

Twitter had the ability to bring together community like nothing else anyone had ever experienced. Once they discovered each other online, people wanted to connect offline, enabling community building.

Meet-ups called Tweets Ups were happening around the world as people figured out how to used social media in life and business. You found other Twitter users by searching online directories and wikis — it was like a giant white pages!

It brought community together in geographic areas as people started to self identify. This was a giant social media coming out for most people.

The best part, no one knew back then where this was going and everyone just wanted to do more. Now, seven years later, I want to share with you some of my favourite things about Twitter.

1. Access

Social media has destroyed hierarchies and the “untouchable” factor of communication. Twitter has been a lead warrior – a social media ninja! The reason: it is open to anyone, and it breaks down the walls between a business’ leadership and its staff, customers, suppliers and other interested parties.

[Tweet “Dialogue via #socialmedia results in a stronger, more direct connection. #7yearsontwitter”]

Coming from a background in public relations, where access was controlled by a few in the PR department and everything was pre-scripted. You now have much more natural conversation, transparency and connection through Twitter.

When I think back to my days doing media relations, access to reporters was limited, you needed a solid Rolodex or database that was your social currency. Twitter changed all the rules.

Now you can connect with virtually anyone. You can talk to people you would have never met otherwise.

2. Influence, Knowledge or Social Capital

Businesses are built on three types of capital – human, financial, and social. Some would argue social capital is the most important because once you are known you can attract all the rest. I would say human capital is the most important, the Giants are the most important part of our business.

[Tweet “Earning your #socialcapital is one of the most important things to do on Twitter. #7yearsontwitter”]

By offering advice, resources and information to others without expecting an immediate benefit, you develop social capital over time. To build trust and establish a reputation as a person who has authority and expertise in your field — two qualities that are critical for buyers looking to engage – you need to give and support others.

Building those connections and relationships takes time, energy and effort. I’ve spent more than 50 hours a year creating and curating content to share, but it’s paying off!

Top executives need to be involved in social media. In a recent study, 77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. 94% said C-suite social media participation enhances a brand image. And 82% of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media.

Study after study shows that CEOs should be driving their organizations (and themselves) to become more active, more visible, more connected and more engaged online. Social media, including Twitter, helps companies with:

  1. Winning the unending war for talent
  2. Engaging customers as individuals
  3. Extensive partnering to drive radical innovation

3. Learning

I have learned an enormous amount about almost every subject on Twitter. It is full of nuggets of info for you to discover — literally like digging for gold. However, I mainly spend time following those directly related to my business and my interests in digital marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, online advertising, marketing automation and broader communication trends.

Twitter has also helped keep me current with popular culture, politics, and technology. There are many successful people on Twitter that generously share valuable blog articles and links that have timely research or information. This is extremely useful in running a marketing communications company.

And if you can’t find it, just ask Twitterverse anything and it will respond. A collective focus group, opinion machine, barometer of what is happening now and everywhere. The trends, hashtags and search functionality give you a window on what the world is thinking in seconds. That is just absolutely mind blowing and incredible.

[Tweet “If you can’t find it, just ask the Twitterverse and it will respond. #7yearsontwitter”]

Messing up analytics

There is one caveat to Twitter, the unexpected finds and the value of the content is difficult to measure.

Over the past few years, links now include images and are somewhat more interesting. For someone like me who’s interested in many subjects and admittedly has the attention span of a butterfly, I can easily click on numerous links to blogs, articles, papers and other content.

Sometimes I will have a few browser windows open with at least 20+ tabs at the same time. It would take me hours to read through the content. So for that, I give my sincerest apologies to everyone that measures time on page and sees 37 days in their analytics, that is probably me and I am sure I really messed with average time on page. Exclude my random hours of time and hopefully there are not many of us doing that to you.

4. Clarity and Brevity

Twitter is good for your writing. The 140-character limit is like writing headlines. It forces you to be thoughtful, specific and interesting and above all efficient. It amazes me how much can be communicated on twitter given the 140 character limit. When pictures were added to tweets, it added an extra 1000 words to your character limit. learning on twitter

[Tweet “140 characters or less. Twitter forces us to be more thoughtful & efficient. #7yearsontwitter”]

5. Community and Connection

Twitter is bigger than the sum of its tweets: it’s the most extraordinary real-time system of communication human beings have ever created. Incredibly, Twitter allows us to meet, connect and assemble like minded people very quickly and efficiently. It gives a group of people a sense of itself, making possible unexpected, fascinating feats of coordination. Here’s just a two examples:

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It also allows people to collectively share grief, celebrate, complain, acknowledge, promote and so much more. However, the true value of Twitter is cumulative. It’s true value to you and others is over time. As you and others post, share, comment and connect you begin to discover more and more about each other.

Over time I discover more about people on both a personal and professional level. I now know more about many of my professional contacts, and feel more like friends with them through Twitter. Equally, people get to know me. A term emerged to describe this level of connection, ambient intimacy.

In the early days, and still to this day you would start and end your day on Twitter connecting with your friends and peers. Starting off with good morning and ending with goodnight my tweeps.

[Tweet “Twitter allows us to connect, inspire, celebrate & build communities. #7yearsontwitter”]

6. Serendipity

[Tweet “Twitter = unexpected opportunities. You never know what’s going to happen. #7yearsontwitter”]

I recruited a staff member through Twitter. Luckily @timhendry contacted me looking for an internship and later became an employee before returning to school.  He had been searching for local digital marketing companies and chanced upon my twitter profile. He followed me, messaged me and asked about internships. I checked out his web presence and videos and was convinced he would be a great addition to the @bedigitalgiants team.

I have made numerous friends through Twitter, people in the same city and also in different cities I may have never met. Often times we share the same interests, Twitter brings us together.

7. Fun

Sometimes it’s just about having fun. Sharing the details of your personal and business life that others might find amusing. Laughing at yourself and laughing with others. Those moments in time where only you find yourself laughing can now be shared with the world through Twitter.

[Tweet “When all else fails, use Twitter to have fun. Then share it with the world. #7yearsontwitter”]

What does Twitter mean to you?

No matter how long you’ve been on Twitter, tell us, how has it impacted your personal or professional life? What do you love or hate about it? If you’re not already following me please join me in my Twitter journey, or follow Digital Giants.