Monday 9 May 2011

On Twitter

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.

PS - of course, if you want to use Twitter properly, don't follow me...get a decent guide.  @erica does a good online course in social media.  Or there are always books... or, hey, ask on Twitter... ;)


Toby Neal said...

I too am a Twitfreak. It's been fun and interesting and good laughs, also gets people to my blog, especially with my recent forays into porn and Bin Laden.

Anonymous said...

I've not yet been tempted by Twitter, and fear my soon to be paucity of internet access makes it an impossibility - but I love blogging for its ability to connect people up across the world. And sometimes even morph into reality! Just like this journey in fact.

Lorraine said...

I am the Lorraine in question and cannot wait to meet the lovely Jane at long last.
Twitter has helped me meet so many interesting people and used in the way Jane says, is a very effective marketing tool and has widened my horizons considerably.

Sessha Batto said...

I can't help it, I'm hooked on the instantaneous feedback of twitter ;) It's a joy to hold two or three simultaneous conversations on wildly different topics with people NOT in my own head.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jane. I admit it, I am sooo jealous that you're meeting Lorraine, one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world!! (who, incidentally, I've never met in person, just on Skype nearly every day!)

I love Twitter, it's a fabulous place to make connections. I once questioned however, if Twitter was overtaking the blogging communities and was inundated with replies telling me "absolutely not". Somehow though, I'm still not convinced. It does seem a little more convenient these days to leave a quick 140 character tweet in response to a blog post than actually comment on the blog itself.

Have a fantastic time next week. I am green with envy!!

Kathryn xx

Exmoorjane said...

Toby: yup, it can be a great way to get people to read the blog - I watch my stats soar when I tweet... though can take a time to get established, no?

Mud: so, did you get the job?? Aaagh, must go and check out your blog... :)

Lorraine: very thrilled at the thought of meeting you...:)

Sessh: oh yes, I think we're in total agreement about that. You're one of the major joys of Twitter for me. :)

CJ: I think you have a point. I find I get FAR less comments on the blog nowadays (though views are up)- but I'm guilty too.. it is so easy to fire off 140 chars or less... :) But think blogs and Twitter work hand-in-glove (if you handle them right)...which I don't!

Viv said...

It took me almost 2 years of floundering to get what Twitter was about. Now I am hooked.
The thing about it is that I don't go seeking people as such. I've never followed the suggestions. I just sit and wait like a patient arachnid and wait.
tweeting in the small hours relieves intense loneliness; and some conversations have had me almost hysterical with laughter. I have even had lovely people buy my book because of twitter.I've found a shampoo maker who makes stuff that might actually work for my horrible scalp and rampant mane.
And yet, people at work look at me as if I have 2 heads when I mention Twitter or blogging.
One of these days I shall treat myself to a phone with a proper keyboard and a contract.

Dump Him Love said...

I am the @dumphimlove lucky enough to be mentioned in this blog. I love twitter simply for the diversity of the tweeps & the tweets. How else would you meet such an array of personalities & interests? Today the subjects have been books, self esteem, comedy with reference to good taste or lack of it, exotic pets & blisters - oh and dialogue with one bloke the content of which is perplexing. Jane, however, seems to understand him. I've stopped caring that my friends think I'm unhinged. I love twitter!

Northern Snippet said...

You perfectly summed it up,though I admit before I started I didn't really get it.For me its really amazing the paths you can follow and find amazing blogs etc purely by chance.
Thanks for the honourable mention BTW :)

English Mum said...

I love Twitter. We live so far away from each other - how else would we get together and have a good cackle? xx

Chris Stovell said...

Well said, that's it in a nutshell. It's always interesting to see what's going to appear... although I have learned not to eavesdrop for fear of being savaged!

citybushisland said...

Well how would I have 'met' you without Twitter?? I love it, it's great for making friends,getting messages out and building brands. Most of all though it's fun. Some of my Twitter pals have become real life friends (@rachelhamada from Zanzibar and @ElizabethNBO from Nairobi) which when you live in the isolation that I do is really lovely

Peter woodfellow said...

I signed into my twitter account on my phone so now each time a person i follow tweets i get a alert from my phone, not helpful in meeting lol. Boss did really care for Stephen frys updates at all.

Linda said...

I don't believe such a thing as a distinctly low-brow conversation with a potty-mouthed mummyblogger crew is possible! Who are these people? I will sort them out for you.

Nickie O'Hara said...

I think it's well know that I'm a complete and utter Twitter addict. i love the random connections and the overlap of people. I also love the immediacy of everything - there's always someone there with that snippet of knowledge that you need. And then there's the giggles too.

Liz said...

I absolutely love twitter and my experience runs the gamut. I've cried with laughter, had political discussions, rows, been called names (!) and enjoyed celebrity tweets. But it's also fantastic professionally - I've found lots of case studies via twitter, made contacts and driven traffic to my blog. Twitter rocks, that is all.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I agree with you. I'm a complete Twitter addict. I think that it does not have an agenda and seems not to let itself be manipulated is its I get to chat to lots of lovely people including your great self! Super post. :)
PS: V.Glad that Northumberland is on your list.

Unknown said...

I think I sort of get Twitter. But I also feel like I'm not very good at it. It's such a time-sucker. I'm either all in and wasting my life away or all out and completely absent. So it seems like little use at all.

Anonymous said...

What a great Blog! I agree...most people think its all mindless chatter...It can be... but it is a web of networking. you have to work at it, you have to be clever, but personal too.. You don't have to tweet all the time - there are tools out there so you can save your profound tweets up so you don't get 'sucked in' ...I generally don't tweet on sundays!It's brought me new friends and new sales, new clients and.... such a lot! Better than FB!