Twitter, Back in the Day
I joined Twitter just a few weeks before the 2007 South by Southwest
Interactive (SxSW) conference where Twitter saw its first big adoption surge.
Twitter made perfect sense in context of SxSW, and I got a lot of
value out of it immediately. Since thousands of my peers - web professionals - were attending the conference too, we all signed up and
followed one another so we could share info while in Austin.
Because the people I was following were at that time focused on the same goal I was - getting value out of the conference - most of our tweets were relevant to the larger group."Sharron Rush giving the Web Accessibility session in Ballroom B -- amazing!" "At Maggie May's, @Veen is buying pitchers of Guinness now, come to the back room" "I need a ride to the Frog Party, who from the Hilton is going?"
Even after the conference was over, it was fun to keep comparing notes, reviewing the panels, blogging and posting videos and podcasts, and generally keeping the discussions alive. For awhile.
As that shared experience faded, I began to tire of hearing about folks sitting on the tarmac in Chicago, getting served bad coffee in Oakland, and playing tennis in Boston. Their day-to-day experiences were no longer relevant to me. "What are you doing?" as a generic prompt apparently needed some refinement. What are you doing - that I care about? was more like it. I didn't stop following people, because they were people I knew and respected. But for the most part, I stopped checking Twitter, unless I was at another industry conference.
Here Comes EverybodyGradually, as the people I was around every day started joining Twitter, the relevance factor kicked back in. My coworkers and I had adopted Yahoo Instant Messenger as a way of communicating online all day, every day - but as more and more of our cohort participated in Twitter, and had interesting, informative things to say, we were bouncing in and out of Twitter. It began to make sense to just DM one another in Twitter instead - because it got a faster response.
I spend at least a couple hours a day just engaging in social media. I'm lucky Firecat Studio pays me to do some of it. I find it an incredibly interesting evolution of communication technology and how society connects. I'd spend time in Twitter even if I had to pay to play.
Shared public events are still, to me, the highest and best use of Twitter. I love watching a football or basketball final, or a presidential debate, with my iphone and Twitterific Pro going. I get the benefit of "watching with" folks all over the country, talking about what's going on in a fun, snarky, backchannel fashion. It's like being in a bar with those folks - except we're all wherever we need to be. Like a chat room, but even better. Not just easier logistically - we can all talk at once, and nothing gets lost.
How Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Vibes are DifferentI'd been an early adopter of LinkedIn and Facebook too - and although many of the folks I friend or follow in those social media spaces also participated in Twitter, I noticed the conversations were different in the different areas. LinkedIn, of course, is "all business, all the time." It's great for that. And although Facebook for me was initially a business group as well, my extended family and my high school and college friends began finding me on Facebook about a year ago. I tend to discuss more personal life stuff in Facebook as a result. I'm less aware of my brand, and more inclined to let my hair down. If I need to throttle down a discussion to only the family, or only the college folks - or apply privacy toward certain people - those controls are there.
In tune with the viral nature of social mediums, I saw waves of new
followers or friends in all the social media spaces. Each wave would
prompt me to begin participating in that space again. We'd see a sudden
surge of USAA employees in LinkedIn, for example. My cousins seemed to
have discovered Facebook. The discussions my high school friends were
having in big emails had moved over to Facebook.
In each surge, there would be people who "crossed over" and followed or friended me in multiple spaces. Twitter is still, for me, heavily weighted with web design and development professionals. But that's me, and purposefully co-creating the web I want, in an authentic, transparent fashion is what fascinates me.
Twitter remains a mostly public, deliberate mix of business and personal issues, for me. Although the people I follow in Twitter are mostly business people, I'm getting to know them as human beings using Twitter. That means I can work with people I know well, like, and respect.
So if you're one of those people who gets excited about the social media r/evolution, come chat with me on Twitter as @firecatsue. See you online!