Twitter, eh? I seem to have been defending it a lot lately. Last night I was at a birthday party and a friend who runs a (rather amazing) country house b&b thanked me for putting a guest onto her. ‘Don’t thank me,’ I said. ‘Thank Twitter.’
‘Oh, I don’t get Twitter,’ she replied breezily. And I thought, how strange. I just don’t get why small businesses don’t use Twitter cannily. Yes, it takes a bit of time to build up a following but, after a certain point (if you use it wisely and appropriately), it is self-generating.I explained how I’d simply written something about how beautiful Exmoor was in spring (a rare lyrical moment) and someone I know online (the lovely Lorraine) had replied. Next thing, she’s asking for a recommendation near Dulverton and lo and behold, Three Acres gets a booking. And I get to meet Lorraine (see, it’s a win-win).
Another excellent Exmoor hotel (a little further away) does it perfectly – Rosi gives out tantalising snippets of information about what’s on locally, what’s on the menu, why it’s worth coming to this little bit of heaven. By beautiful serendipity, it turns out that she and I went to the same university and even did the same course – yet I’d never have met her if it hadn’t been for Twitter. I have a list of places a mile long that I will visit when I get the chance – from Northumberland to Tanzania via Greece. And yes, all from Twitter connections.Meanwhile back at Vicky’s dinner table the puzzlement continued. ‘Isn’t it just people talking about what they had for breakfast?’ said Gill with a wrinkled up nose. Well, you ignore those, don’t you? Just like you ignore spam or people who irritate you.
‘I don’t have enough friends to have a conversation,’ quipped another mate. Ho ho ho. Follow interesting people or people with similar interests and say things that will interest you and them. Give a little bit, share a little bit. That’s the bottom line. And I explained about how a good tweet or a good cause can go viral.But really, I don’t love Twitter for its business opportunities. I love it for the connections. It’s a web. You get chatting to one person and then, through them, you meet someone else and then...whoah, off you go.
A couple of days ago I was chatting to a couple of Twitter friends and somehow (I forget exactly) we got onto talking about poetry and I waved my arms around a bit at Old English poetry (The Seafarer, anyone?) and then Barbara (@dumphimlove) posted this – and I tossed it to Margo Lanagan as she has been writing a book about selkies and she passed it on and now I’ve met three more writers who love myth and folk tales and so the magic spreads.
Sometimes it's downright hilarious. A couple of days ago I found myself holding two conversations in tandem: one relatively thoughtful about literature and one distinctly low-brow with the potty-mouthed mummyblogger crew. Not letting one pollute the other was, hmm, challenging.Once again, I find myself floating fecklessly in cyberspace. Yet again, I hear myself giving people advice I don’t follow. I don’t promote myself as a writer online; I never remember to plug a book; I probably scupper myself professionally by forgetting people are listening and chortling wildly over weirdly shaped penises or my capacious inglenook instead of being a wise, kind, lotus-positioned self-help *guru* (cue hollow laughter).
But hey. So be it. Really I just love the way Twitter appears totally random yet offers a clear conduit for synchronicity. And the best thing of all is when you see a couple of people you know and love, chatting happily to one another, getting a kick out of a new connection of their own. Webs. Spinning. Delicious.
online course in social media. Or there are always books... or, hey, ask on Twitter... ;)