Happy 9th Birthday Twitter

Happy 9th Birthday Twitter

twitterTwitter turns nine years old this week; during that short time it’s changed both the PR profession and practitioners alike. It’s been a driving force for my business, career and life.

I connect with colleagues and associates from around the world. I’ve built an international following and have had many great opportunities come my way thanks to my Twitter profile. Many of my clients first became aware of me via Twitter, so did my boss. I’ve been invited to speak at conferences, contribute articles and participate on podcasts.

When I decided to start a PR company on a small island in the Irish Sea, I knew that being in a remote location would make the Internet an essential part of the business. I had already invested a lot of effort into my blog and was building a credible reputation online. I was writing a weekly newspaper tech column, so I was trying out all kinds of apps as they were launched. I joined Twttr (that’s what it was called then) on April 3, 2007 just as it started to gain traction at SXSWi. It was pretty boring at first. There weren’t a lot of people using it, and the ones that were using tweeted mostly about writing code or what colour socks they were wearing. I really didn’t get it.

But that all changed as Twitter’s user base grew. The conversations became a lot more interesting, and having direct and immediate access to fascinating people all over the world made the experience a lot more compelling.

Today I still love the immediacy of Twitter. As it has for most people, it’s become my first destination for breaking news. The Ottawa War Memorial shooting happened just around the corner from my office but I found out about from Twitter first. To keep abreast of events as they happened, I spent that day with one eye out the window and the other on my Twitter feed.

Twitter is central to most of the client work I do. It is extremely efficient as a content channel. It consistently performs well in terms of building awareness and reach and driving website traffic. Even with the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat gaining traction, Twitter remains crucial to PR campaign success. I use it to communicate with reporters and other news professionals too; it’s often their preferred social network.

Managing a community of thousands can be a bit overwhelming but Twitter Lists really help. It takes time to organize them, but getting the people you follow into lists is a great way to reduce white noise, understand trends and learn from those you follow. Hashtags too are really useful in following trends and conversation threads.

I also use Tweetdeck on my home computer and Hootsuite at work to publish and schedule tweets. Both are easy to use, but Hootsuite is better for team collaboration. Occasionally I use ManageFlitter to clean out my ‘Following’ lists. It identifies dead or inactive accounts and is useful for trimming and culling.

According to Social Mention, about 13 per cent of my 12,325 followers have a professional interest in social media or marketing; no surprises there. Most of my followers are in Canada, the USA or the UK, but most regions of the world are represented.

I’m following about 6,000 Twitter profiles. I used to auto-follow back before Twitter disabled that function, so I follow a lot. But only really ever look at my lists. I’ve got a couple location based lists, professional lists, lists of media outlets I like, a client list, but my favourite list is the one of people I have actually met in person. This is my first destination on Twitter and it’s a hodgepodge of my friends, clients, family, colleagues, associates and even a few celebrities I’ve met over the years.

I can’t imagine my job, or my life for that matter, without Twitter in it. It’s an app that nicely packages connection, creativity and insight into one little easy to use bundle.

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One response to “Happy 9th Birthday Twitter”

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