A best friend and personal ego-booster one minute; a morale-destroyer and general spawn of the devil the next.
When Twitter burst on to the scene back in 2006 I was completely indifferent. I had over 300 ‘carefully-selected’ friends on Facebook and an online presence already established, thank you very much. Why would I want to start again, appeal for ‘followers’- a horribly tribal and narcisstic term in my opinion- and this time be limited to 140 characters?? After a while I joined out of curiosity and followed a few celebs, leaving an unsavoury taste of ‘stalker’ in my mouth. I gained around 12 followers myself (mainly my colleagues who had encouraged me to join in the first place), and tweeted when I remembered. Which wasn’t very often. Twitter for me back in 2007 was a complete waste of time.
But then, at the beginning of 2011 my career started to go in a different direction. With acting jobs getting less and less regular I started to focus on my previous ambition of becoming a wedding and event planner. I got a job in a wonderful bridal boutique and became more and more immersed in the world of weddings. I devoured wedding blogs and started building a business plan. I did copious amounts of research and started to get an idea of the ‘key players’ in the industry, and, with a business name finally chosen (a whole other blog post in itself), I re-joined Twitter at the end of last year, as Utterly Wow, with the intention of using it as a source of industry info, to make contacts (and perhaps new friendships), and gain some sort of ‘industry presence’ before launching the business at the end of this year.
In the space of a few months I’ve gained just over 200 followers. If numbers are important (as Twitter would have you believe) that’s ok… I think… considering that 90% of them are total strangers and my ‘business’ is still only a business plan. Of those 200 followers, I follow around half of them back, and of the 180 people I follow, around half of them follow me back…. It’s a game of halves, this Twitter lark.
When Twitter is good, Twitter is great. It still amazes me how, without even asking, a blog post I’ve written can be retweeted to thousands and thousands of people by the company I’ve written about; as happened with my Boux Avenue review, and my If Money Were No Object post. When I was having an engagement ring wobble, I asked a couple of big boy bloggers with a large bridal following to RT and they did; earning me my best day on the blog for a long while, and gaining a chunk of new followers along the way. Being mentioned as part of a #ww (Wedding Wednesday) or a #ff (Follow Friday) makes me giddy with excitement (even though it’s only happened once or twice), and thanks to a call-out on Twitter, I have a fantastic band booked for my wedding next year. I don’t have a particularly large blog readership, but I do seem to have a loyal band of lovely ladies who, thanks to Twitter, read regularly and leave thoughtful comments… There is no doubt that used correctly it can be a powerful and invaluable business tool.
But when Twitter is bad… well, it can be pretty rubbish. Paranoia, depression, inferiority… these are all feelings that I have experienced- however fleetingly- since becoming a regular tweeter. And I don’t think I’m alone; I have seen many a sad or cryptic tweet by someone who is obviously feeling a little low at that moment. And these by people with thousands of followers! But then why should the number of followers we have mean anything anyway? That ‘number’ is so utterly irrelevant and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. We want to be followed by people who are interested in what we have to say, surely; not those who simply follow in order to get a follow back? Then there are the cliques you’re not a part of, the meet-ups you’re not invited to, and the ongoing ‘conversations’ between industry pals that clog up your twitter feed (when really they could be conversing via more private means, such as email or the telephone…). Yes, yes, I know I could ‘unfollow’ them if I really wanted to, but the truth of the matter is… I want to be a part of that clique, god damnit! And therein lies the paradox of Twitter.
Aside from the odd moan or lonely tweet, Twitter can be likened to a shop front; a happy, shiny, newly-painted, flowers in the window shop front that invites customers (followers) to come inside (click through to the promoted website/blog) and make a purchase (become a ‘follower’/take a vested interest in that person/business). Therefore we are generally led to believe that everyone on Twitter is happy and successful and that business is just booming, thanks for asking. Fighting against my natural instinct to be sarcastic and cynical and self-derogatory in order to provide amusement for others (as I do on my personal Facebook page) I find myself being consistently upbeat and positive in my tweets. On a good day this comes naturally (“I’ve written a blog post! Come read it- it’s great!”). But if I am feeling a little low or a little ‘what am I doing with my life again, aged 27 and 3/4??’, well, Twitter has all the power to make you feel just that little bit more inadequate. So I’m gradually learning to stay away when those flashes of insecurity appear. I head on over to Facebook and make people laugh with a witty mockery of my inadequacy instead- instant uplift!
It is a bit of a game, Twitter, and one I don’t think I’ve quite got to grips with yet (it’s no Balderdash!), but it’s one I shall persevere with. I get surprisingly few blog hits from Twitter (I thought it was going to be the main referrer when I first started but Facebook and Google are proving way more successful for me at the moment), which saddens me only because I’ve discovered so many fab blogs and bloggers through it myself. Surely we shouldn’t expect people to read our utterings if we don’t take the time to read others’ utterings as well?
But then again, if you’re reading this now then I’m preaching to the converted, aren’t I??